Senate President’s Remarks to the Board, May 2017

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

The Faculty Senate would like to join in congratulating all of the NISOD Award winners and Dr. Michael Botson.  We would also like to recognize two of our own: Linda Comte will serve as this year’s Treasurer for the TCCTA and Dr. Helen Graham will be a member of the Professional Development Committee.

One of the great honors and pleasures of the position I hold this year is the invaluable opportunity to participate in and observe the many extraordinary events for and work by our students and faculty.  For instance, near the end of the semester, I watched students from the Southwest Honors College address a host of Student Services and Instructional Services administrators as part of their English 1302 coursework (argument and rhetoric).  These exceptionally brave students attempted to persuade those decision-makers to consider the use of green space at the Stafford campus, the social and educational value of good food that would be available in their proposed Eagle Café (also at Stafford), and the importance of sound safety policies in an era of campus carry.  Watching them find and use their public voices is a timely reminder of why we are all here: to put our students at the center of what we do and to see them shine.

Not only did I have the pleasure of attending the celebration of our Veteran students and faculty as they were honored and corded at a ceremony at NRG, but also I witnessed the joy, delight, and pride of our students and their families as our graduates walked the stage at four unique and fantastic graduations.  Each featured speaker offered distinctive words of encouragement to our students, and I commend the entire graduation committee team for successfully planning and executing these ceremonies.  What a sacred honor.

Once closing out the spring semester, our dedicated faculty jumped into professional development work. I watched in awe of our college readiness faculty who teach EDUC 1300 (our college success course) as they spent a few days collaborating with the nationally recognized experts in that field, thinking carefully and deeply about that course’s purpose in our students’ educational paths, its learning outcomes, how to align the curriculum to those outcomes, and how to measure student learning in those courses.

The All Faculty Retreat, hosted by the Faculty Senate, took place last week, and it was a resounding success.  Faculty from both workforce and academic areas built their daily workshop agendas and reflected individually and collaboratively about their own teaching philosophies and classroom practices.  As one participant reported, “What a great chance to meet with colleagues across disciplines and in varying levels of experience! We often need time to discuss common issues and how to handle them, but we do not always have the time during the academic calendar to do this. Sharing solutions and the positive environment lead to improved outlooks on the profession and a renewal of commitment to it.”  I would like to express my deep appreciation to Vice Chancellor Dr. Kimberly Beatty and Dr. Stephen Levey for their early support of this effort.  Further, I would like to thank Senior Vice Chancellor Teri Zamora for giving the Faculty Senate Professional Development Committee the go-ahead, and especially Warren Hurd and his office manager, Renee Alsandar, for guiding us through the complicated processes that underpin such an event.  Their ceaseless patience coupled with their ability to adjust on the fly were crucial to getting this event off the ground.  Lastly, I would like to recognize Dr. Helen Graham for overseeing the All Faculty Retreat, from scouting locations, to planning the menu, to conducting the application process, to organizing the agenda.  Of note, more than a quarter of the participants at the All Faculty Retreat were adjunct professors, demonstrating our adjunct faculty’s commitment to our students and to their own professional lives.  I urge all of us to consider how we might offer more opportunities and support to these vital members of our college family.

Our Coleman faculty who teach in the nursing programs have spent the year working closely with curriculum designers in the IIED to redesign their courses, to align curriculum to the learning objectives, and to shore up the academic rigor of those programs.  Current students are thriving in this nascent environment of re-energized faculty, new program leadership, and a dedicated Nursing Dean, all functioning as a team who put students, their learning and their success, at the center of everything they do.  These are just a few examples of faculty working together in order to better fulfill our college’s mission. Rest assured that faculty across all programs are committed to our students and their learning.

I have had a front row seat to this year’s budgeting process: the identification of priorities within divisions and across the institution, as well as this Board’s budget workshops. Since a budget is a statement of values, then aligning our budget with the College’s strategic plan underscores our mission and best serves our students and our institutional health.  Of note, the top three budget priorities presented this spring pertain to faculty and connect inextricably to performance excellence.  Many faculty well remember our professional lives under previous administrations: ones of hiring freezes, wage stagnation, underfunded programs, doing more with less and less.  We praise this board and this administration for their attempts to true-up and right-size over the last two years of implementation of the three-year plan to bring salaries to market.  Faculty encourage you to continue supporting the third year of the compensation plan to offer good pay to good people to do good work.

As we flow into the summer months, faculty are preparing to teach their summer courses, students are gearing up for those classes which pass with lightning speed, and you all move into a critical part of your own work. Students, staff, and faculty trust that you will use our common mission as your guiding principle, and we are counting on your wisdom and stewardship to make decisions for the long term health and well-being of our institution and the communities of the greater Houston area.

Thank you.

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Senate President’s Remarks to the Board, April 2017

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

On behalf of the entire Senate, I would like to express our thanks to Trustee Loredo, Trustee Glaser, Trustee Oliver, and Trustee Evans-Shabazz for battling the rodeo traffic and stopping by our Annual Faculty Conference which was held in early March.  Further, we would like to thank Chancellor Maldonado for his appearance and his words of support, as well as to Senior Vice Chancellor Zamora and Vice Chancellor Ewen for their attendance. About 300 faculty descended upon the DoubleTree in downtown Houston on that Saturday to participate in the conference, which successfully showcased our faculty’s expertise and our commitment to each other as well as our students. Richard Moore, Executive Director of Texas Community College Teachers Association presented legislative updates and the associations’ lobbying efforts, and gave an overview of the associations’ initiatives (such as Pathways, dual credit, adjunct issues).  Dr. Paul Handstadt, our keynote speaker, spoke brilliantly to us about “Creating Wicked Students: Engaging Pedagogies that Improve Student Authority.”  I would especially like to thank Linda Comte, Debra Schulz, and Melinda Payne for leading the steering committee with relentless energy, patience, and enthusiasm.  It’s no easy job to wrangle paperwork, contracts, bags of giveaways, vendors, publishers, and faculty to produce and host this excellent professional development event.  Once again, I would like to underscore our deep and sincere appreciation to Senior Vice Chancellor Teri Zamora for creating a sustainable budget for this annual event.

March also saw our second of this semester’s Pathways Institutes for instructional and student services leaders.  This institute offered an opportunity for instructional and student services folks to work together on program mapping and on investigating appropriately robust technology which would support our collective efforts.  One of the best moments of this institute involved us working in small teams to unpack various program maps.  The beauty of this exercise was the way it framed our experiences from the perspective of students—new to higher education and often unfamiliar with its machinations—and, for faculty, from the perspective of advisors who must often assist students with information about programs with which they are unfamiliar.  The Institute demonstrated, once again, how vital it is for Instructional Services and Student Services to collaborate and work in tandem to build and provide the ultimate student experience.

During these last two months, faculty have been hard at work in and out of the classroom.  The Communications department hosted their second annual speech tournament; the Reading Cultures Series concluded its programing and are in the process of assessing student work; the REEL Film and Speaker Series has concluded its Spring events, and the ESOL/INRW/English Summit will be held tomorrow.  These are just a sample of the many co-curricular and professional development activities which faculty host and support.  Some faculty were able to attend the Transformation Tours and appreciated the opportunity to be updated by the leadership team.  Thank you, Chancellor, Dr. Beatty, Dr. Brewer, and Dr. Carter for visiting many of our locations and fielding the good, thoughtful questions of faculty and staff, for we all value transparency and those key opportunities for dialogue and interaction.

I would like to take a moment to update you on the activities of the Faculty Senate particularly:  first, the Faculty Senate would like to thank Dr. Siddiqi for his visit with the senators located primarily at the Central campus.  They sincerely appreciated his open format and his candor and thoughtfulness as he answered their questions and noted their suggestions.  Second,  we would like to thank David Cross, Director of EEO/Compliance, for visiting the full senate to discuss important aspects of Title IX.  Third, I am proud to announce that the Faculty Senate has voted to convene a new, standing committee:  Standing Committee for Diversity and Inclusion. This standing committee will advise Administration regarding issues of diversity, equal opportunity, and inclusion and facilitate programs and services that meet the changing needs of faculty members and instruction in a diverse community.  If, as I’ve intimated before, “the key aspect of shared governance is a responsibility to share in problem solving, “ this committee stands ready to cooperate with other institutional entities to deliver on the promise of our Imagine 2019 Strategic Plan, which highlights diversity and inclusion, and to support all of our students.  Fourth, the Faculty Senate is holding its first round of elections for next year’s senators.  In the first round, we elect those senators designated by specific programs.  By the time we meet next month, we will have identified next year’s senators.

As we race to the end of April, faculty are frantically preparing for end-of-the-semester projects, final exams, graduation ceremonies, and grade turn-in.  If you see us and we seem frazzled, harried, and distracted, just give us wide berth and throw some chocolate in our general direction.  We will be back to our “normal” selves sometime in the middle of May.   Thank you.

Bedichek is coming sooner than you think!

Hey!  I (David) am sitting here with one of our Bedichek co-chairs, Linda Graham. We were making some tweaks to the B-O Donation page when we realized that we are less than ninety days out from our October 13th Auction.  NOW IS THE TIME TO GET READY!  Be thinking about donations of items and/or services that you can do or procure.  Begin planning your costumes for our disco-tastic  Seventies theme.  And above all, SAVE THE DATE!

Second Round Election Results

The results of the second round of delegate elections are now final.  You may look at the results of all of the elections by clicking here. The Senate extends its thanks to everyone who felt the calling to run, and wishes to remind everyone that anyone can serve on a Senate committee, even if they’re not an elected delegate.

 

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

Senate President’s Remarks to the Board, January 2017

(NB the following comments were delivered by President-elect Mohamad Tlass, who was present in the absence of President Melissa Miller-Waters)

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

Faculty Senate President Melissa Miller-Waters regrets being absent today but is honored that, as President Elect, I am able to present her remarks for her.

Once again, the Faculty Senate would like to express its appreciation to last year’s Board Officers and our congratulations to this year’s elected officers.  Congratulations, to our new chair, Trustee Loredo, to our new Vice Chair, Christopher Oliver, and to our new secretary, Trustee Sane.  We look forward to your steady hand and solid stewardship in the coming year.

The Faculty Senate would like to acknowledge the Chancellor’s commitment to HCC as seen through his participation at all pre-semester faculty meetings and convocation.  Traveling between Houston and Austin to participate in our college’s events and the legislature’s opening events is no small feat, and we appreciate his commitment to our faculty and our mission.

The Faculty Senate would like to thank Dr. Beatty for visiting us during our first Faculty Senate meeting of the spring semester.  We appreciate Dr. Beatty’s (your) forthrightness with the senate and your willingness to field all questions.  Thank you, Dr. Beatty.

As part of our aim to build a culture of evidence, faculty examined quantitative student success data by program for our Fall Instructional Day.  For Spring’s Instructional Day, we examined more qualitative data, gathered by the Student Success division through focus groups which collected student voices—their perceptions of their experiences here at HCC in and out of the classroom.  A faculty panel constituted of full-time and part-time faculty representing both academic and workforce programs discussed those student perceptions.  (Here, you can give your take on your experience serving on that panel).

The Faculty Senate continues to hold academic and intellectual rigor in our curriculum as central to the success of our students and to the health of our institution.  Dr. Beatty has challenged faculty instructional leaders to develop an operating definition of rigor, one specific to HCC and preemptive of outside groups. As part of the Instructional Leaders meeting before the beginning of this semester, the Faculty Senate’s Educational Affairs Committee developed a workshop to begin constructing our definition.  Chairs, Associate Chairs, and Program Coordinators came together to jumpstart this important work. I would like to acknowledge the amazing work of our Educational Affairs committee, led by Chair Antrece Baggett. This group developed the workshop and facilitated it, all under a tight timeframe with an immovable deadline. Their dedication to the Senate, to all of our colleagues, and to our students is impressive and inspiring.

The Faculty Senate looks forward to the spring semester, and we remain committed to shared governance and to our students’ success.  Lastly, on a personal note, I would like to express my heartbreak at the sudden loss of Kirk White, a dear man who was a wonderful colleague and who will be missed by all of us.  I extend my thoughts and prayers to his family; we know they must be devastated.