By BRIANNA HERNANDEZ
During last year’s annual Meet and Confer, tensions rose with discussion on department leadership between members of the Pima Community College Education Association and the college’s administration.
Meet and Confer is a yearly negotiation process with PCCEA, which represents faculty and the PCC administration.
Meet and Confer typically ends in May, however discussion on department leadership reorganization didn’t begin until April.
“It’s deeply disappointing that Meet and Confer discussions on this topic started too late,” said PCC spokesman Matej Boguszak said in a recent email.
In order to convince the PCC board to include the topic in Meet and Confer, Boguszak had to make a public comment at a Board of Governors meeting on April 12.
“As a result, there was not enough time to work through all the details of such enormous change by May,” Boguszak said.
Despite this, both groups continued to meet over the summer to further discussions on department leadership.
Recently, however, PCCEA was able to agree with the PCC administration on policy language regarding department leadership reorganization to be added into the Faculty Personnel Policy Statement handbook.
The FPPS refers to the policies affecting PCC employees.
Last year, PCC changed its academic organization structure, from campus-based departments to college-wide divisions encompassing similar disciplines.According to Howell, final changes to the dean structure began in April and May.
Prior to the change, each campus had a vice president of instruction who oversaw the deans.
The deans were separated by subject matter and oversaw faculty on their particular campus only. For instance, Downtown Campus had a dean who oversaw sciences and a dean who oversaw mathematics.
The disciplines that the deans supervised were dependent on the disciplines offered at their
campus and the amount of faculty members.
Similar disciplines were put under the same division.
In 2017, PCC revised the model they had been using to a model where a sole dean supervises all faculties in a particular division across all campuses.
Last year, a task force was assigned with developing a department chair and academic leadership structure that would fit with the newly implemented college-wide divisions.
The recommended structure was intended to be finalized last fall to be shared with faculty for feedback, yet the task force didn’t release the report until January.
“It was ready late fall, but the Faculty Senate wanted to do some word-smithing before they sent it out,” Howell said. “By the time they were finished, it was late December, so they chose to wait until faculty returned from winter break.”
PCCEA found the task force’s report to be lacking adequate details in areas of division funding,
job qualifications, responsibilities, selection processes and compensation.
Throughout this process faculty was reassured in face-to-face meetings with Chancellor Lee Lambert and administration that additional recommendations could be expected and that discussion on the department chair structure would be on top of the Meet and Confer agenda, Jimenez said.
Following the report’s release, PCC President Morgan Phillips and two faculty members from the task force worked on a handbook that would contain more sufficient information. The handbook was released in early April.
According to Phillips, the handbook details the responsibilities that faculty could undertake at campuses.
Phillip’s noted that the handbook will define how campus divisions operate, but it will likely take a few years to implement the system.
Boguszak found that while the handbook has potential, it was developed by a few people behind closed doors.
Phillips countered that quality documents never begin with numerous authors weighing in all at once.
The lengthy battle between both parties worsened on April 7, when PCCEA found out that none of the proposed features of the new academic leadership structure would be adopted in the FPPS.
Jiménez and Boguszak found the turnaround to be disappointing, since both parties had agreed to share their interests and goals with each other.
THE BATTLE CONTINUES
The summer meetings payed off when both groups were able to come together to form policy language.
The newly developed policy language establishes types of faculty leadership roles, candidate qualifications, selection process and terms of service.
PCCEA also agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding about the establishment of a working group to represent faculty.
The new group consists of administration, faculty and staff, including PCCEA and Faculty Senate representation and a faculty co-chair.
They are tasked with reviewing and updating the handbook.
PCCEA officials had reservations about signing the Memorandum.
“This is the first year for the rather rushed reorganization, so in the spirit of continuous improvement, the working group will be recommending changes as we find out what does and doesn’t work effectively,” Boguszak said.
PCCEA refused to sign off on the section regarding supervision of faculty.
“On two surveys, faculty opinion was nearly evenly split on whether faculty should serve as supervisors for their full-time colleagues,” Boguszak said. “Even among those who supported the idea, nearly half said they would only do so if there was majority support within their department.”
Both parties had extensive discussions regarding this issue which even led to draft language for the handbook.
“PCCEA did not sign this memorandum and expressed alarm at the continued shifting of administrative responsibilities onto faculty without sufficient compensation and a commensurate realignment of administrator duties,” Boguszak said.
The board approved the section on supervision of faculty on Sept. 15 at a Board of Governors meeting.
“PCCEA expects to be closely involved involved in the continuing implementation of the faculty leadership structure to help ensure a fair and well designed system,” Boguszak said.