By ANDREW PAXTON
Pima Community College’s Board of Governors is reviewing and revising its bylaws, a crucial step to getting sanctions removed by the Higher Learning Commission.
The HLC, the college’s accrediting body, placed Pima on probation in April. It sent a fact-finding team to Pima in January to investigate numerous allegations of violations.
The governing board met for a study session on Nov. 7 to review the bylaws and make corrections and additions needed to bring the college into compliance with operating criteria.
Among other findings, the HLC team determined that “the board has failed to appropriately review many of the college’s policies, regulations and standard practice guide procedures as a matter of routine business or to review these items following administrative action.”
Many board policies were written in the 1970s and some have not been updated in more than a decade, according to the report.
“This team believes the board has essentially abdicated appropriate oversight of college operations in personnel policies and actions,” the report said.
Now the board is working to ensure that procedures and policies are clear, up-to-date and in compliance with the HLC’s expectations.
Another issue cited by the HLC when the college was placed on probation was the lack of faculty involvement with board decisions. The board discussed how to give staff, specifically adjunct instructors, more input.
“What we want to do is give a stronger voice to adjunct faculty since they teach such a large fraction of our classes,” board member Scott Stewart said.
Board member David Longoria agreed.
“I think it is essential to include adjunct faculty representation, because for too long they haven’t had a seat at the table,” Longoria said. “They deserve a voice just like everybody else.”
The board was unsure whether Faculty Senate or Staff Council represents the concerns of part-time instructors or adjuncts who may teach one or two classes.
“Not all people are members of these groups,” board member Marty Cortez said.
The members decided to study the matter further and make a decision regarding the best way to include adjunct faculty participation during a future session.
They also discussed operational matters such as how to add items to their agenda, the formation of committees and updating the college’s discrimination policy.
Recognizing that the bylaws may not be revisited for years to come, the board members said they understand the importance of making the rules definitive and manageable.
“We need to be cognizant that we are amending these bylaws for future boards, not just for our own usage,” Longoria said. “We want to empower future boards with good ways of governing themselves”
“I would like to see what the best practices are,” board member Sylvia Lee said. “What are some of the other governing boards doing?”
The board members will continue revising their bylaws before putting them to a final vote at a regular meeting. The next study session will be held on Nov. 19 at 5 p.m. at the college’s district office, located at 4905 E. Broadway Blvd., in the community room.