JCD NEA propose no confidence vote

Posted on 17 May 2013 by admin

Faculty members express concerns at BOT meeting

BY: KAVAHN MANSOURI

Chancellor Myrtle Dorsey

Editor-in-Chief

The Junior College Division of the National Education Association (JCD-NEA) announced the results of a straw poll in favor of voting no confidence in Chancellor Myrtle Dorsey at the May 16 Board of Trustees meeting at the STLCC-Meramec campus.

Of the 114 faculty members who attended the last Junior College Division Nation Education Association (JCD-NEA) faculty forum, 87.7 percent voted to conduct a vote. At the May 10 NEA Council Meeting, the council voted unanimously supporting the vote.

A straw poll or straw vote provides dialogue among movements within large groups, but offers nonbinding results.

Several faculty members expressed the concerns brought forward at faculty forums during the BOT meeting. The final speaker, STLCC-Wildwood Communications Instructor Ellen McCloskey spoke on behalf of JCD-NEA President Doug Hurst and Vice President Cindy Campbell and announced the results of the straw poll.

Board of Trustee Vice Chair Craig Larson said the vote of no confidence comes at a low point for the college.

“It’s really hard to absorb. The conversation a lot of us are having is that we really need to improve the climate of the campuses. We need to help the college,” Larson said. “The workers, the employees of the college – whether that be the teachers or the staff or counselors – everybody should feel better about this place. We’re at a low point now.”

Newly elected Trustee Joan McGivney said the college must unite to better the current situation.

“I am concerned. We, the board, have to discuss this,” McGivney said. “We need to work as a team to make sure that the community college thrives and we’re all one happy family.”

McCloskey said faculty members discussed ways they could help the college repair damage at the four campus faculty forums.

“We are highly educated, intellectual people who could be a part of this and help the college move forward,” McCloskey said

Larson said although the results of the straw poll were negative it does not represent the entire faculty.

“There are 1,800 employees, there are four or five hundred full time professors and hundreds of adjuncts. That was a hundred people – so we really don’t know,” Larson said. “We’re in the middle of negotiations and the NEA is into hard bargaining. From my seat, it’s hard to know. It’s not where I want it to be. There’s no question to that.”

Trustee Graham said teachers need to work hard to make their job a “happy place to be.”

“What I’m really waiting for is for teachers to come to the mic and tell Dr. Graham and the rest of the trustees how hard they are working on their jobs,” Graham said. “To keep their students engaged and learning – and saying that when I go back to that classroom ‘I am going to put my best foot forward and whatever goes wrong I’ll work hard and collaborate with my colleagues to make my job a happy place to be.”

 

Faculty addresses “Major Themes”

 

Forest Park Professor Beth Anderhub, M.Ed. said faculty at the faculty forums discussed four “major themes.”

“In the last two weeks meetings were held at each campus by NEA faculty representatives and were facilitated by NEA President Doug Hurst. At each forum four major themes were discussed. Organizational culture, teaching and learning, student engagement and moving forward,” Anderhub said.

Anderhub highlighted issues from organizational culture that included honesty to the public and students, faculty faith lost that problems are being addressed, control from the top, lack of trust and organizational judgment.

Forest Park Professor Tobie Chapman said student faculty relationships have suffered from unresolved issues.

“As time passes and issues that relate directly to the student and faculty relationship in the classroom go unresolved and or not addressed a decline in institutional effectiveness is apparent,” Chapman said. ”Faculty have brought many of these critical issues forward and will continue to bring them forward.”

Chapman listed issues from the theme “teaching and learning” that included top down management leading to low moral, lowered collegiality, aging campuses, physical facilities not being maintained and discouragement from innovation.

Chapman said the college’s focus on cost has hurt the quality of education offered at STLCC.

“Instructional emphasis has shifted in the last couple of year to cost versus quality,” Chapman said. “Administrative positions and salaries are at the expense of teaching and instruction.”

Becky Helbling, of the Meramec library, said problems with student engagement faculty members have faced include students being distracted by feelings of anger and abandonment, students sensing a culture of fear that has led to disengagement with the college and students feeling like they have been lied to.

Helbling said action needs to be taken if the college plans to turn retention and enrollment around.

“Especially after tonight we can all agree that unless serious efforts are made to address student engagement, enrollment and retention will continue to decline,” Helbling said. “It’s critical that faculty are involved in the ground level of this work so that the planning, the changes and the outcomes are most effective with real life teaching and learning needs.”

 

  • John Messmer

    What I’m really waiting for is for teachers to come to the mic and tell
    Dr. Graham and the rest of the trustees how hard they are working on
    their jobs,” Graham said. “To keep their students engaged and learning –
    and saying that when I go back to that classroom ‘I am going to put my
    best foot forward and whatever goes wrong I’ll work hard and collaborate
    with my colleagues to make my job a happy place to be.”

    What a bizarre paragraph. First off, we’re professors. Stop treating us like we work at Kinder Care. Secondly, if keeping students “engaged and learning” is so important why has the board allowed the dismantling of the Center for Teaching and Learning and the Honors Program (the latter is “technically” still around but only a shell of its once proud self)? Third, the board and the administration needs to jettison this fairy tail that we’re “one college.” Nonsense. To serve the community correctly we have to acknowledge that we’re three campuses (Wildwood is just a building, not a campus) serving three diversely different student bodies.

  • Natalie Smith

    Dr. Messmer is correct. If the school’s administration is that concerned with retention and engagement then they need to look at their own practices and how they effect the students.

    I have been a student of STLCC for two years and I am leaving to attend SLU without my Associates degree. Due to the changes in financial aid disbursement and the lack of support for the Honors program, STLCC has made it impossible for me to continue my education there.

    Their decisions made them lose an Honors student to a school that appreciates my hard work, not the faculty.

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