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.