Senate President’s Remarks to the Board, February 2017

Good afternoon, Chancellor, Honorable Trustees, colleagues, ladies and gentleman.

On behalf of the entire Senate, I would like to express our appreciation to Chancellor Maldonado for his visit to our February Faculty Senate Meeting.  He introduced us to the new Vice Chancellor for Planning and Institutional Effectiveness.  The senators appreciated the Chancellor’s full-throated endorsement of sustained academic rigor and enjoyed the opportunity to begin to get to know Dr. Ewen.  We thank the Chancellor for his continued interactions with the Faculty Senate and look forward to working with Dr. Ewen.

This month has been a busy one as we settle into the Spring semester.  Faculty are preparing for our Annual Faculty Conference, hosted by the Faculty Senate and overseen by the Professional Development Committee.  We hope that you will be able to drop by on March 4 at the DoubleTree downtown to get a glimpse of our faculty’s brilliance, innovative teaching strategies, and commitment to our students’ success.  The event will open with breakfast at 8 and ends at 2:00pm, culminating with our guest speaker, Dr. Paul Handstadt, a champion of general education, the liberal arts, creative/innovative thinking, and integrative learning, who also happens to be an English professor.

Last week, Dr. Beatty and the Student Success Division, led by Dr. Betty Fortune, hosted our first Pathways Institute for instructional leaders (deans, chairs, associate chairs, and program coordinators).  This vital event set the stage for the hard work necessary to launch our pathways program at scale in Fall 2017.  Drs. Andrea Burridge, Martha Oburn, and Misha Turner provided key disaggregated student data to underpin the necessity for this system overhaul.  Dr. Gretchen Schmidt, Executive Director of the Pathways Project for AACC, visited us to underscore the urgency of such a design change, and Susan Goll gave instructional leaders a glimpse of the plans for both Instructional Services and Student Services which aim to better serve all of our students.

I just returned today from the annual Achieving the Dream Conference where I had the opportunity to attend Dr. Beatty’s and Dr. Misha Turner’s presentation about HCC’s transition to a college which values a culture of evidence.  In this presentation, Dr. Beatty described HCC’s transformation in the last two years, and I was reminded again of the hard, wonderful, vital work we have accomplished in a relatively short time.  Grappling with our data and investigating the key questions this evidence raises allows us to see clearly what we do well and what we can certainly do better.  We are currently an Achieving the Dream Leader College.  Should we succeed with our redesign to a pathways system which foregrounds student success and completion—which puts students at the heart of what we do, which aims for equity and inclusive excellence–I am confident that we will be THE Leader College within the next two years.   (Be warned, I came back with ideas, and you know there’s nothing quite like faculty who have ideas.)

Many of our faculty are attending the annual 70th Annual TCCTA Convention which begins today.  This event is a premiere professional development opportunity for community college educators, offering over 150 discipline specific sessions as well as nationally renowned speakers.  Serving over 1500 community college experts across the state, this convention offers our faculty an invaluable opportunity to network with their peers.  Once again, I would like to express our appreciation for the professional development funds assigned to each full-time professor, for these faculty will return to their students renewed and inspired.

Lastly, I have begun my spring listening tour and have visited a couple of campuses so far.  I am actively and empathetically listening to faculty, to their successes and to their concerns about some of the day-to-day operations at their campuses.  As one brilliant colleague puts it, “routine things should be done routinely,” and I will be reaching out during the next few weeks to those leaders and administrators who are in positions to help eliminate unnecessary redundancies, navigate or eliminate bureaucratic bottlenecks, and streamline business processes.  Supporting and empowering faculty is fundamental to our shared mission: inclusive excellence, student completion aided by career and college pathways, and positive student experiences that span the life-cycle of a student at Houston’s Community College.

Remarks delivered by Senate President Dr. Melissa Miller-Waters


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