Survey reveals lack of confidence

By EDDIE CELAYA

A recent survey from the Pima Community College Education Association has raised concerns about low morale among faculty members and questions about faculty trust in Chancellor Lee Lambert.

The results of the survey conducted by the PCCEA were made public in December 2015.

Of nearly 320 surveys sent, there were 263 responses, far exceeding PCCEA’s goal of a 50 percent response rate.

According to Pima spokesperson Libby Howell, PCC employs 350 full-time faculty.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents indicated that they were unhappy at the college, up from 24 percent in 2013.

Nearly half—47 percent—responded that they were considering leaving PCC altogether.  Reasons cited for this included feeling overworked and underappreciated, a lack of proper oversight, and low morale among staff.

The results are higher than they were in 2013 under former Chancellor Roy Flores.

Board member Sylvia Lee said that is not the fault of the current chancellor.

“Many of these new policies, such as mandatory attendance taking, are the direct result of either federal mandates or accreditation concerns and should have been implemented a decade ago,” Lee said.

She faulted the leadership of Flores for failing to implement policies in some cases and outright ignoring problems in others. For example, implementing a standardized syllabus is a requirement of accreditation by the Higher Learning Council.

That was implemented under Lambert’s leadership.

“I think some of this may have to do with those mandatory sort of policies; he implemented these and it should have been done much earlier,” Lee said.

The inclusion of the confidence question within the survey caught some instructors, including adjunct hospitality instructor and Adjunct Representative for the Faculty Senate Carlo Buscemi, off guard.

“It was a big surprise to us,” he said.

Buscemi added that, from an adjunct perspective, “a year ago things were very bad.  But in the last six, seven months, things have really turned around.  Gradually, the administration is listening.”

Mathematics instructor and PCCEA Co-Vice President Ana Jimenez said it was unclear if the survey accurately reflected low moral among faculty.

“PCCEA has not surveyed faculty again on this topic, so we cannot accurately state if morale has changed,” Jimenez said. “However, we are planning to include the morale question again in our annual survey of faculty next semester.”

Lambert said that PCC is “making important improvements, but they are challenging and difficult to implement. It’s understandable that faculty and other employees feel anxious.”

He encouraged the faculty to inform him of any concerns.

“I have encouraged them to reach out to me to express their concerns, and that’s why I am committed to listening and continuing the dialogue,” Lambert said.

The survey results showed a split in faculty support for Lambert.

Forty-eight percent of respondents marked either “strongly agree” or “agree” when asked if Lambert should be subject to a formal vote of confidence. Twenty percent of respondents were neutral, with the remaining 32 percent indicating they supported the chancellor.

A vote of confidence shows that a majority continues to support the policy of a leader.

While nearly 50 percent of responding faculty support holding a vote of confidence, that is not enough to warrant one, according to Jimenez.

“The survey results show that faculty are split with regard to a confidence vote on Chancellor Lee Lambert. PCCEA would never pursue a vote of such nature without an overwhelming mandate from faculty,” she said.

According to Lambert, however, the results are not “statistically valid,” and due to anonymity “one person could have voted 10, 15, or 20 times.”

Howell agreed.

“Neither the chancellor nor I believe that the survey was a statistically valid assessment of unhappiness,” she said. “For one thing, the same person could fill out the survey more than once, skewing the results.”

Lee echoed Lambert’s sentiments.

In an email to an employee, Lee said that “my guess is that (the vote of confidence question) was crafted by a handful of individuals with motives that are destructive.”

In response to those claims, Jimenez refuted the assertion that instructors had “stuffed the ballot box,” defending the surveys methods.

“We believe in the integrity of our faculty colleagues and feel that the open and honest answers fostered by anonymity greatly outweighs the need to track responses,” she said.

Instead, Jimenez suggested that the issues and concerns revealed in the survey need to be acknowledged by administration.

“The concerns expressed in the survey, however, need to be addressed. PCCEA has been in discussions with the Chancellor since January regarding the survey results and are actively working to respond productively to the issues raised,” she said.

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