Governing Board Address 10/26/21

Good evening, everyone.

Last month I shared with you some of the ways that faculty are helping the District to achieve its goals. I talked about creating new baccalaureate degrees, operationalizing the new Faculty Agreement, and implementing Guided Pathways. These initiatives are big, bold, new, and important, and they will change how Maricopa operates for years to come. However, in discussing how faculty help Maricopa achieve its goals, there was one goal that I skipped over. The goal I failed to mention is not big, or bold, or new, but it is important. The goal I skipped over was “educating students.”

Leaving that goal out felt like a big oversight on my part. In trying to understand how I could have missed “educating students” in my list of recent faculty achievements, I was reminded of the following parable told by celebrated author David Foster Wallace: ‘There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”’

Wallace meant that the most obvious and important aspects of our lives are often hard to remember — they’re so ever-present that they blend into the background. For faculty, teaching is our water: it’s not so much “what we do” as it is “who we are.”

Now while faculty are constantly teaching, the WAY that we teach is far from constant. We continually strive to hone our craft and improve our ability to convey knowledge to our students. Even in fields with long histories, today’s classes differ strikingly from the same courses taught in semesters past. To illustrate how our faculty keep their classes new and relevant, I want to discuss just one example tonight: the New Media Lab Experience at MCC, run by Dr. Eddie Webb.

As members of our Governing Board, some of you are quite familiar with this space, since you’ve had the opportunity to work with Dr. Webb on podcasts. The primary focus of the New Media Lab Experience is to welcome students of all classes to an open computer lab where they can learn new technologies and collaborate with other students to create multimedia projects. The lab teaches students how to use innovative styles of communicating, such as documentary filmmaking, graphic design, and audio podcasting. Additionally, so far Dr. Webb and his team have trained 76 faculty members to produce multimedia projects.

The New Media Lab Experience teaches students how to use industry-standard software and hardware to help them modernize the written word. The process prepares them to be competent and highly sought-after players in the ever-growing field of digital communication. Now, make no mistake: the work these students do moves far beyond “arbitrary projects for the sake of learning the technology.” The New Media Lab Experience prides itself on emphasizing novel research, meaningful scholarship, and team-building. Before they are allowed to even touch a camera to record their project, each of these students must complete at least six weeks of focused research.

When students join this program they begin by organizing into four research teams, each conducting both archival and original research centered in four main areas of study: historical overview, facts and data, analysis and discussion, and findings and recommendations. First, the teams convene a conference to choose a joint topic to research. The students then collaborate to propose a framework, including a community statement, two research questions, and four research goals. All of their research is shared across teams using high-tech tools like Google Docs, Excel spreadsheets, and a Spark page. At the same time, the students create a business plan that includes organizing video production teams and marketing teams. In the end, by engaging with these projects at every step of the way, the students find their own voices and learn to use them in ways that are new, creative, and culturally relevant, all while fostering a learning environment that is fiercely collaborative and engaging.

The New Media Lab Experience is a next-generation program, where the next generation of students learns next-generation tools to communicate with the next generation. The times, they are a-changin’, and you can rest assured that Maricopa’s curriculum is changing right along with them. Thanks to our faculty and staff working hard to keep up with change, our students will never fall behind.

Thank you for your time.


Governing Board Address 9/28/21

Good evening, everyone.

Have you noticed that MCCCD is a busy place these days? Maricopa continues to work on implementing Guided Pathways, on operationalizing the brand-new Faculty Agreement, on centralizing IT services to save money and avoid redundancy, and on retooling the enrollment process to make it faster and more user-friendly. Additionally, we are also unveiling the District’s three strategic priorities and launching our new four-year degree programs. And on top of that, we’re pursuing the Chancellor’s nine Governing Board goals for the year. Whew!

Well, tonight I want to update you on how the faculty are trying to move some of these initiatives forward for our District.

While we’re just beginning to craft our new baccalaureate programs, it’s already clear that faculty will be heavily involved in every stage of the process: we have faculty on the steering committee, faculty on the college recommendation committees, and faculty Instructional Councils ready to formulate the plans to get these programs to launch. What’s more, faculty are chomping at the bit to engage in the process — knowing full well that it takes a massive effort to roll out an entire four-year degree program, the most common feedback I’ve heard from faculty members is raw enthusiasm to dive right into this brand-new and long-awaited expansion of our mission. Additionally, we agree with the District leadership’s approach of moving carefully enough to get it right from the very beginning so that our students can extract the maximum benefit from these degrees. It seems clear that the faculty will be eager partners in this ongoing effort for many years to come.

Another important project is the rollout of our brand-new Faculty Agreement. After a few years of intense effort, this document is decidedly a “beta version,” but because of the skill and dedication of the drafting team we have a higher-quality initial document than any reasonable observer could have anticipated. Nonetheless, it is THE most significant policy change for the faculty in decades. Well, the good news is that we’re successfully adjusting to this new ruleset. As I mentioned last time, over the summer the Faculty Executive Council held a “book club” to bring faculty leadership up to speed on the contents of the new document. Now, those faculty leaders are extending their efforts by hosting additional “book clubs” for interested faculty across the entire District. Faculty are also finalizing their new “department charters” to align with requirements introduced in the Faculty Agreement, and we are deciding how to parcel out supervision work and pay in accordance with new Faculty Agreement guidelines. Suffice it to say that while this document has caused massive changes to every aspect of faculty life, we are rising to the occasion and making all the necessary adjustments.

Of the District’s major initiatives, Guided Pathways is the longest-running, and also the closest to completion. The goal of Guided Pathways is supremely student-oriented: to help each student find the classes that lead to their chosen goals and to provide them with the 360-degree wrap-around support necessary to let them reach those goals. Faculty have been crafting the “pathways” part of Guided Pathways for a few years now — setting up semester-by-semester guides for students in a chosen degree path. Now, these guides are living documents needing frequent adjustment in response to new innovations and discoveries, not to mention requirement alterations by our local instructional councils, by national education councils, by certification boards, and by transfer partners. That’s why this fall we have 18 separate teams working to either refine existing pathways or create brand new ones in programs ranging from Commercial Real Estate to Kubernetes.

On the “guided” side of Guided Pathways, we’re unveiling the District’s new “First Year Student Experience”: that’s our name for a suite of support structures to give our students the knowledge, skills, and habits necessary to succeed in college…and beyond. The First Year Student Experience includes gateway courses, enhanced advising, co-curricular experiences, career exploration, and much more.

By putting all of these pieces together, our Guided Pathways work is revolutionizing our student experience, so much so that the rest of the educational world is taking notice: in addition to a forthcoming academic publication summarizing our work, four separate community college districts have asked our faculty to come and present about these efforts so that they can try to follow in our footsteps.

The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus once wrote that “the only constant in life is change.” In Maricopa, we’re constantly experiencing change. Luckily, our faculty, staff, and administration have learned to embrace it. This year, we will once again face a wide array of changes that will challenge everything about how we function as a system, and once again our employees are not only willing but EXCITED to rise to the challenge and to ensure that our students get the highest-quality experience that we can provide. After having seen how their dedication and skill have transformed our District so far, I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Thank you for your time.


The Faculty Association, our past, and our future


Crazy times, eh?

Over the last few years, we’ve experienced a lifetime worth of tumult: nationwide protests, two presidential impeachments, a global pandemic. In our quiet little corner of the world, we’ve seen our own share of turbulence: a Governing Board President ousted mid-term, a Board vote requesting the resignation of one of its own, the replacement of our decades-old Residential Faculty Policies with a brand-new Faculty Agreement.

Despite the bumpiness of our journey, from a professional perspective, the faculty have had a huge series of gains over the last few years, including:

  • A transformational 2020 Governing Board election where the Faculty Association’s advocacy helped to secure a pro-education majority
  • A 4% raise (the largest increase to the salary scale in over a quarter of a century)
  • A plan by HR, District leadership, and the Governing Board to implement similarly large salary scale increases in each of the next four years
  • The creation of a new District-wide Shared Governance Committee, along with a commitment to embrace the principles of shared governance throughout the organization
  • The creation of a new District-wide Committee on Academic Freedom, along with a reaffirmation of the principles of academic freedom (following a successful lawsuit by the Faculty Association to protect it)

What will the next few years bring?

With three Governing Board seats up for election in November 2022, the next chapter of the story remains unwritten. Will we ride this momentum and secure further victories for the students, the District, and the employees? Or will we experience setbacks, ceding ground to the relentless push for budget cuts and neutered employee organizations? The stakes remain high: our allies advocate for predictable salary advancement and a meaningful employee voice in District leadership while our enemies attack our pensions, introduce bills to allow guns on campus, and undermine academic freedom and workplace democracy throughout the state.

The Faculty Association fights all of these battles on behalf of our whole community — faculty, staff, and students alike. When it succeeds, everyone benefits; when it fails, everyone suffers. While we cannot know the outcome of these battles in advance, we do know the most important factor affecting the chance of success:

It’s you.

The strength of the Faculty Association comes from its members — we are stronger when we all stand together. Larger membership gives greater weight to our message by demonstrating that we speak on behalf of the group. It also gives us the resources we need to advocate effectively.

Our fight is your fight. Our success is your success. Our story is your story. Join us so that we have the ability to keep winning victories for you.

The majority of Maricopa’s faculty are already members of the Faculty Association, and we sincerely thank all of you for your support. If you have not had the opportunity to join or renew your membership, please consider standing with your colleagues. To join the Faculty Association or to renew your membership (for anyone not currently paying by ACH Direct Debit or credit card), please go to → Become a Member → and select your preferred dues payment schedule and method. You may select from:

  • Annual = one-time payment (ACH Direct Debit, Credit Card, or Check)
  • Quarterly = four payments (ACH Direct Debit, Credit Card)
  • Monthly = twelve payments (ACH Direct Debit, Credit Card)

Additionally, if you wish to join or renew your membership via personal check, click on Pay by Check and send your completed check via USPS to:

Maricopa Community Colleges Faculty Association
520 East Southern Avenue
Tempe, AZ 85282

See Membership Benefits to learn more about membership benefits of being a Faculty Association member.

Thank you for all you have done and continue to do in support of our students and each other.

Sasha Radisich, Faculty Association President

What future will you choose?

Recently, something rather momentous happened for us.

Something good.

Something that would have been impossible a few years ago.

On April 27th, the MCCCD Governing Board voted to approve a 4% salary increase for all Maricopa employees, retroactive to January 1st of this year. For faculty paid on a nine-month schedule (those who don’t get paychecks for base pay over the summer), the lump-sum increase for the first half of the calendar year should show up in today’s paychecks. For faculty paid on a year-round schedule, the payment will come on 6/17.

This action marks a change in attitude that sharply contrasts with the decade of neglect that preceded it. Furthermore, the adopted plan allocates additional 4% salary increases for us in each of the next four years…unless a new Board rescinds it.

I want to explain how those of us who support our Faculty Association made that happen.

In the 2018 and 2020 elections, our Faculty Association engaged in high-effort (and high-expense) pushes to elect pro-education, pro-student, and pro-employee members to the Governing Board. We gained significant ground in those elections. In fact, in 2020 we swept the table, with all four of our endorsed candidates winning their seats. A new Board brought a new attitude, and with it came victories for us all.

Through advocacy and negotiation (and at times, through litigation) our Faculty Association secured a seat at the table. As a direct consequence, we see our Residential Faculty gaining respect from the District: leadership now confers with us about potential policy and budgetary changes, administration shows heightened awareness of and respect for our academic freedom, and the Governing Board moves to acknowledge our value by increasing our compensation. These changes represent the fruit of a strong Faculty Association — one made strong by faculty support.

Right now, we see MCCCD reviving because of our united efforts. As our Faculty Association changes the power structure, we create a new framework where our working conditions can improve.

Ultimately, you get to choose whether or not we keep our Faculty Association strong. So, which do you prefer? For a Residential Faculty member, this year’s 4% raise would pay their annual Faculty Association dues more than five times over. Will you join to ensure that we have the strength to keep winning victories for you, or will you roll the dice and trust your future to luck? Will you invest a tiny fraction of your gains to keep our successes coming, or will you risk the chance that we have to endure another lost decade?

You get to choose.

Sasha Radisich
Faculty Association President

Governing Board Address 4/27/21

President Sullivan, Governing Board Members, CEC Members, and Guests:

Tonight is my last address to the Governing Board on behalf of the Faculty Association. As of May 11th, my term will be over and Dr. Sasha Radisich (GCC) will be assuming the presidency, supported by Professors Camille Newton (SMCC) as President Elect and John Schampel (PC) as Past President.

I am very proud of the work that the Faculty Association and residential faculty leadership have helped to accomplish this year. Even in the midst of a pandemic, collaborative work continued on important initiatives and projects benefiting students, staff, faculty, and the Maricopa system. From the Faculty Agreement, to the Employee Compensation Philosophy, to the Committee on Academic Freedom, extraordinary (even historic) accomplishments have been achieved through collaboration with staff, adjunct faculty, and district and college leadership.

The relationships that have been started or developed more deeply have been most rewarding and made my term as president less contentious and more collaborative, allowing for greater progress on the important work we all have before us. I will always remember the colleagues I have come to know and the good, and difficult, work we have done together. I do regret that all our meetings were virtual, precluding the normal face-to-face interactions that I find essential for collaborative work and relationship building. On the upside, I have the dubious distinction of being the first Faculty Association President who never held or attended a single meeting in person/face to face for their entire term of office! Certainly not what I expected or set as a goal for my leadership of the Faculty Association! But we make do, and rise to the task before us. I hope my rise met the challenges before me and that the Faculty Association and Maricopa as a whole benefited from my time as President. I am grateful to the Faculty Association Officers and Faculty Executive Council for their unwavering support and counsel and for entrusting me with the responsibilities and duties of this office. I literally could not have done it without you! It was an honor to serve and one of the highlights of my career.

As most of you already know, I have spent most of my life at Maricopa, predominantly at Mesa Community College, where I started as the young kid of a professor running around campus with all the other professors’ kids, chasing rabbits and lizards and having lunch with all the faculty in the Kirk Center, yes, all the faculty fit into one room! Some years later I continued as a student, eventually joining the faculty, where I served as Department Chair, Faculty Senate Vice President and President, FEC Representative, Faculty Association President Elect and President. During that time, I also watched as my kids and grandkids became students at MCC, CGCC, and SCC. I have spent a lifetime watching, participating, and advocating for the mission of the Maricopa and its positive impact on students, employees, and communities. On July 1, 2021, I am retiring, and as a proud alumna I will continue to watch and advocate for the success of Maricopa.

Given my long, deeply personal investment in Maricopa, with your indulgence, I would like to share some parting observations and concerns in the hope it helps Maricopa to move successfully into the future.

Participating in system-level leadership over the past two years has made clear to me that our biggest challenges aren’t new revelations for most of us, but it is critical that we find a way to resolve them so we can move forward. We can’t continue to be okay with the status quo of an organizational culture that doesn’t work yet still doesn’t change and a lack of focus on systems (“little s”) that will help us to operate as a System (“big S”). I don’t want to suggest no progress has been made in this regard, it has, especially recently. But this piece is hard for us, and we must continue our progress with a strong sense of urgency if we are to break through.

Another critical challenge we must overcome is our inability to create a positive experience for students before they show up in our classes. We know the contributing problems — students have a really hard time registering for classes, gaining access to an advisor, navigating financial aid, getting their questions answered. We know these critical student processes need more resources, such as more advisors to provide more student contact and a more streamlined process with consistency between colleges. Employees are doing their very best to work with the tools and processes available to them, but they are overwhelmed and understaffed. More people who provide that broader, deeper student service are part of the solution, as are technology and streamlining consistent processes across the colleges. We have studied this problem at great length, yet it remains unsolved.

I suggest that if we think seriously about the causes of these seemingly intractable problems, we might find that they share a root cause.

Maricopa’s culture has long exhibited an unwillingness to face, acknowledge, and act to change difficult patterns, including the impact of recent history and events involving the prior Governing Board and former Chancellor Harper-Marinick. In addition, Maricopa culturally embraces a parochialism that stifles not only our understanding of and ability to work across colleges and the district office as a system, but also undermines our willingness to change the culture that facilitates this parochialism.

Please understand that I am not trying to pick a fight. I have a deep and abiding love for Maricopa as an institution and for its employees, its students, and the communities it serves. But I do feel an urgent and pressing need to call for Maricopa to come together as an institution to address these issues head on, right away.

We know that Maricopa exists to help students succeed and build a better life for themselves and their families. And caring about and valuing our employees positions all of us to succeed and build a better life for ourselves, our families, our students, and the communities we live in and serve. It will be hard work, but we have survived a recession, a year of pandemic, and a system shutdown. I have full confidence that we are capable of not only surviving, but thriving.

Thank you for your time. My deepest gratitude to all the amazing people that I have met and worked with over my years at Maricopa. I will miss you but I know that the work we have done will position Maricopa to continue its mission of bringing success to all who come to them, whether student or employee or community member or governing board member. As we owe it to those whose legacy we seek to fulfill, what we do from here is our legacy.

Patrice Nango