Governing Board Address 6/27/23

Madame la Presidente, membres du conseil d’administration, Chancellor, CEC colleagues, and guests. “Jambo”

Madame la Presidente, I know you are fond of songs as themes for presentations, so I chose “Summer Breeze” by Seals and Crofts as I remember it fondly from my childhood.  A more appropriate choice, however, might have been Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out for Summer.”   

This song in particular brings images to mind of classroom doors flung open, masses of excited students pouring out, and trailing behind, an exhausted faculty body. Faculty who many believe will take the next few weeks off, retiring perhaps to a villa in the South of France to wander among the lavender fields.  While this may be true for some, and I express no hate (but perhaps a tad bit of envy), I’d like to tell you about the work of the many Maricopa faculty who will spend their summertime engaged with teaching and learning. 

Maricopa Community Colleges is offering  4770 summer classes across the 10 colleges.  Would it surprise you to know that 58% of those classes are taught by our residential faculty?  Faculty who have chosen to remain connected to the classroom during the summer months.

Others are remaining connected to the classroom but taking those classrooms to international locations.  This summer, we have six international programs in both Europe and Mexico.  For example, 35 students are currently in Ireland with Dr. Barry Vaughn of Mesa Community College where they will spend a month embedded in the local culture.  Not only do they immerse themselves in the study of Irish religion from Neolithic to Medieval times, they learn the art of Irish storytelling and regale the locals with their final projects at the neighborhood pub.  Many students have been so impacted by their experiences here that they choose to return for further studies. Now spending a month in Europe may sound like a vacation, but I can assure you that it is very hard work wrangling a group of college students. I speak from experience as one of those former students, who many years ago, along with some co-conspirators, almost got our group kicked out of a hotel in Rome for using bed linens as togas.  Who knew that wasn’t appropriate?!? But the opportunity for students to experience different cultures, values, and perspectives firsthand challenges their preconceived notions and broadens their worldview.  It fosters empathy, tolerance, and an appreciation for diversity, making them a more open-minded individual.

And that, mes amis, is incredibly valuable in this increasingly divisive world we live in.  

Other faculty are engaging in the field of pedagogy over the summer. At Scottsdale Community College, 12 faculty are collaborating during a Summer Service Learning Institute to develop Field of Interest specific experiences.  One, led by the director of the Hospitality Program, is working on putting together a Human Trafficking Awareness Week at SCC. Arizona is a major hub for human trafficking, and victims are often trafficked through hotels. While the project is very early in its development, the core idea is that her hospitality students will create an advocacy campaign, host speakers, and offer some training on what to look for. The director is involving experts at the city and state level, as well as leveraging her numerous contacts in the hospitality industry. 

The District-wide Maricopa Summer Institute brings teams of faculty, often cross-college, together to develop and deploy projects in the classroom.  This past May the Institute highlighted the work of 10 teams.  One that was particularly intriguing was an attempt to encourage student buy-in for math. Math is often considered a necessary evil to obtain a certificate or degree but its applicability beyond that is often questioned. To address this, students are asked to interview professionals in their specific field of study and a panel of professionals was filmed talking about what math looks like in future career choices. Other Summer Institute groups are looking at the ethical use of generative AI in both English and Psychology classrooms.   

These highlights are not meant to diminish those residential faculty who choose to spend their summers disconnecting but rather to celebrate those who choose to remain connected with teaching and learning.

Irrespective of where or how the faculty spend their summers I can assure you they will return on August 11, refreshed, reinvigorated and renewed of purpose. 

I will close with a haiku on summer teaching

Golden rays embrace
Knowledge blooms with each warm day
Summer’s lessons shared.

Approved Compensation Package

Last week the Chancellor sent an email regarding the approval of a compensation package for the next budget cycle.  Some of the highlights of this package for faculty are:

  • Increase the number of steps from 14 to 15
  • Provide a step for ALL residential faculty (including those originally at top of step)
  • 1 or more equity steps for some residential faculty
  • A lump-sum stipend for any employee whose base pay adjustment with the step is less than 4.13%.
  • The establishment of step equity minimums based on time as Residential Faculty

While I understand that the compensation may, in many cases, not match the inflation that we are all experiencing, it is my hope that we can come together to celebrate the fact that this is the first step we have received since AY 16/17 and a clear commitment on the part of District leadership and the Governing Board to address compensation and inequity issues as much as budgetarily possible.

I would like to take this opportunity to give a special thanks to Dr. Frank Wilson and his team for their diligence, flexibility, and willingness to work collaboratively with faculty input to come up with a compensation plan that attempts to address compensation issues for as many faculty as possible given budget constraints.

Further details can be found in the May 23rd Governing Board Docs and the Slide Deck from the Compensation Town Halls.


Governing Board Address 5/23/23

Madame la Presidente, members of the board, Chancellor, CEC colleagues, friends and family. I am Dr. Lisa Marsio and am honored to be the Faculty Association President for the 2023-2024 year. I would like to take a moment to thank Dr. Newton for her friendship, leadership, and mentorship over the past year. And for being the Ted Lasso to my Roy Kent!

Rather than saying “good evening” I will greet you with “jambo”.  Jambo is a Swahili greeting that translates as “hi” or “hey”. I use this, not because of its informality, but rather because I cannot help but smile everytime I say it.  “Jambo”.   

And we, as a District, have much to smile about.  Let me name a few.

We have seen enrollments trending up over the past year, and we can be hopeful that this will continue.  

We have launched 7 baccalaureate degrees and over 400 students have already enrolled.

We have saved our students millions of dollars through the innovative use of OER materials and task forces are being developed to look at everything from appropriate course fees to the use of Artificial Intelligence and other innovations in academia. Much to smile about.

We have come together in the partnership of Shared Governance and begun to build a community of collegiality and trust.  For example, Governing Board members, faculty, and staff worked collaboratively, and with lack of status in the room, on a strategic plan to move the Maricopa Community Colleges forward into an increasingly competitive academic world.  Much to smile about.

Perhaps the biggest thing we have to smile about, however, is our students, who continue to honor and humble us with the trust they place in us to be change-agents in their lives for the better.

Over the past two weeks, there has been great movement in the student population at our colleges.  Many, with degrees or credentials in hand, are entering the workforce.  Many, with transfer credits in hand, are matriculating to 4-year universities.  Some, such as the grandparent who took a social media class for their own edification and have mad skills in hand, are now embarrassing friends and family on Tik Tok.  While their goals may vary, they take with them a bit of the Maricopa mystique that binds them together, be it a Scottsdale fighting Artichoke, a South Mountain Cougar or a PC Bear.

Over the next few meetings, I hope to share happenings in the faculty world of Maricopa; more things that bring smiles to our faces such as the continued work in the realm of teaching and learning that continues to occur in the summer.  Stay tuned.

With that, I would like to close tonight with a haiku on semester’s end:

Books close, minds unfurl
Semester’s end, knowledge gained
Paths diverge, growth

Asante Sana (Thank you in Swahili)


Governing Board Address 4/9/23

Good evening President Sullivan, Governing Board members, Chancellor Gonzales, CEC Colleagues and guests.

It is incredible the difference that 5 years can make. 

5 years ago on February 27, 2018. I was the Faculty Senate President at South Mountain Community College.  I sat that night with hundreds of colleagues in one of the District satellite viewing spaces necessary on the night of the Governing Board meeting because there were too many attendees to be housed in the Governing Board room.  On what Dr. Thor called a “dark day in Maricopa history,” a majority of Governing Board members voted to tear up the Residential Faculty Agreement, abolish the collaborative administration and faculty policy team known as Meet and Confer, and finish the goal they’d begun when they ended staff representation:  They gutted shared governance in the Maricopa County Community Colleges. 

Five years later, complete with two years of COVID smack dab in the middle, I stand here as the Faculty Association President and argue that we are in the midst of a renaissance of shared governance.  Due to the dedicated work of the Chancellor, our Governing Board, and the leadership of faculty, staff, and administration, together this year we have solidified the foundation of academic freedom, freedom of speech, and shared governance in our District.  The results are remarkable:

  • We have an active and thriving Committee on Academic Freedom, with increased requests for support and clarification about academic freedom coming from our Maricopa community.
  • We have a dedicated team of leaders exploring creation of a structure for Shared Governance in Maricopa, testament to our commitment to both its ideals and application. 
  • We developed a new Strategic Plan that involved stakeholders from across the District from start to finish, including retreats that brought together Maricopa faculty, staff, and administrators with Governing Board and community members to envision Maricopa’s future and priorities.
  • The Compensation Advisory Committee and Advisory Budget Committees have worked collaboratively to propose compensation plans for faculty, staff, and adjuncts that support the Governing Board’s commitment to equity and fiscal responsibility.
  • We have three effective teams established for policy development that have resulted in policy documents for residential faculty, staff, and adjuncts.  In true Maricopa acronym love, those teams are the RFACT, SPCT, and AFHCT.
  • This year saw the work to finalize the Performance Success evaluation model for staff, with implementation plans in place to begin pilots in Fall 23 and launch in Fall 24.  This has been a heavy lift and a team effort; I was proud to be part of this incredible work for our staff colleagues.

These are only the *large* endeavors we have completed or have moved into action just this past year.  There are numerous other task forces and initiatives recently launched or in the wings. It is gratifying to see the difference it makes to bring stakeholders together early in the decision making processes that help propel us forward to support our students and communities.  The work is not always easy or fast, and shared governance is a fragile construct  that requires constant vigilance and effort, but the progress is clearly worth the commitment.

In this, my last Board address as Faculty Executive Council President, I wish to take a moment to thank those who have made it possible for me to contribute in this renaissance year to the work of shared governance in Maricopa.  

First, thank you to my colleagues on CEC. Those early morning phone calls, late emails, and last minute meetings are testament to our willingness to collaborate, explore options, and give grace to each other as we address the inevitable challenges and opportunities we face in our complex system.  I have appreciated your generosity and look forward to our continued work. 

Thank you and recognition to my Faculty Association Officers, without whom I would not still be #vertical. Past President John Schampel has been on FEC since 2013, and I have appreciated his passion for shared governance, his experience with the history of Maricopa and faculty leadership, and his willingness to shoot straight with me whenever I ask..  President Elect Lisa Marsio already has an established track record of commitment to faculty and Maricopa in her previous leadership positions, and I look forward to supporting her and the intelligence, integrity, and kindness that she will bring to this role.  I have turned to Sasha as a touchstone in all things, to Megan for her generosity of spirit and rhetorical savvy, to Liz for her ability to provide clarity and focus, to Kory for quiet strength and determination, and to Barry and Jim for their institutional knowledge and experience.  These officers have provided the brains and the hands behind the scenes that make this job possible. This role is and will always be a team effort, and I was lucky and grateful to have them at my back. 

Thank you to the members of the Faculty Executive Council, especially the college Faculty Senate Presidents, who ensure their college colleagues are informed and are participating in shared governance locally and at the District.  We all benefit from their efforts on behalf of their colleges, and I have benefited from their perspectives, their work, and their collegiality.

Finally, thank you to the strong and dedicated faculty of the Maricopa Community Colleges.  When shared governance and freedom of expression were endangered in Maricopa, they rallied and worked and leveraged national higher education institutions and our legal system to restore what had been lost.  When faced with an unprecedented global pandemic, they pivoted and learned and sacrificed– in the midst of their own personal struggles– to support their students, colleagues, and colleges and to ensure access to the promise and power of higher education.  And in this new era of collaboration and partnership, they have willingly stepped up when asked to serve on the councils, committees, task forces, and teams that shared governance requires, all while continuing to teach and learn and provide excellence in education.  It has been my privilege and honor to represent and to serve them.  

These monthly addresses have admittedly been the most nerve-wracking part of my role as Faculty Association President, but I have been grateful for the opportunity to share the good work of faculty with you.  As always, thank you for the time and your attention.  Good evening.



Governing Board Address 11/23/21

Good evening, everyone.

When we talk about the District’s mission, we typically focus on our primary goal of serving the students, but we actually exist in service to the entire community. When we’re doing our job right, the whole community benefits from us and recognizes our value. While Maricopa County has always appreciated the work we do, our faculty and staff wanted to do even more for the community we serve.

So, we did. State law requires us to adopt a plan to increase student voter registration and turnout. We put our plan into action and in the 2020 election cycle, we showed double-digit percentage growth in civic participation. This achievement was recognized by All-In Campus Democracy who awarded half of our colleges bronze or silver seals for our 2020 student voter turnout. They also gave out just three “voter-friendly college” designations across all of Arizona, and Maricopa colleges earned two of those.

Now while voting is a great start, our faculty and staff didn’t settle for just helping our students to vote — they wanted to help our students to fully engage with the community. Around the District, we have many pockets of innovation working to make that happen. As just one example, take the District’s Student Public Policy Forum: here, faculty and staff bring together students interested in leadership for an academic program to introduce them to policymaking at the local, state, and national level. The program focuses on experiential learning and leadership development through engagement in the political process. One classroom assignment for the program is to find a problem in your community and propose a solution for it. Two of the program’s students, MCC’s Manuel Valenzuela and Phoenix College’s Holly Tourville, chose as their problem the lack of four-year degrees for underserved industries. (Remember that one?) Well, with instruction from faculty, coordination from staff, and advice from both, these two students lobbied individual state legislators on the issue, using their own personal experiences as launching points for deep (and influential!) conversations. As we all know, the state legislature handed us a major victory this year when they voted to allow us to begin providing four-year degrees. In fairness, it would be wildly unrealistic to credit any one person — or even any one group — with that victory, since it had a thousand parents, but Mr. Valenzuela and Ms. Tourville definitely share some of the credit. This example showcases the power of these civic engagement efforts: by teaching students to be influential leaders and then helping them connect with the community at large, wonderful things happen for the students, for the community, and for the District. It’s a win-win-win situation.

The Student Public Policy Forum is just one of the dozens of innovative efforts scattered around the District that promote civic engagement and service learning. The ten colleges have incubated some fantastic programs, but without a districtwide support structure, we haven’t been able to scale them up. Maricopa needs a “base of operations” where the assorted proponents of civic engagement could gather to exchange ideas, support each other…and broaden their successes. Last year, Chancellor Gonzales created just such a civic engagement clearinghouse when he established our new Center for Excellence. Under the leadership of the Program Director for Workforce and Economic Development, Deanna Villanueva-Saucedo, and Glendale History professor John Coughlin, the Center for Excellence seeks to integrate Maricopa’s work around democracy, shared governance, academic freedom, and DEI. By embedding America’s democratic principles into our District at the systemic level, the Center for Excellence is the perfect structure to weave all of our District’s individual threads of civic engagement into a unified tapestry of community service. I’m hopeful that the Center for Excellence will elevate all of our civic engagement efforts to the next level, and ultimately make our service to our community so clear and so important that if anyone ever asks if we provide value to the community, the community itself will answer with a resounding “yes.”

Thank you for your time, and on a personal note, please let me wish you all a pleasant Thanksgiving holiday with your families and friends.