Author Archives: BOT Blogger

President Toler’s Comments to the Board of Trustees: Aug 20, 2019

Our students have returned, and in their world, everything is as normal as can be when a lot of them are in the throes of figuring things out – parking, navigating from one class to the next, timing lines at Starbucks. Faculty – both full-time and adjunct – are excelling at the jobs we’ve been hired to do. As the kids say today, this is “our jam.” (Kids may not really use those terms any more – I’m about three years behind on my tv and movie watching so I know I’m not that hip.)

I do know that being at these meetings is not really our idea of a good time.
Already, things have happened that are not likely to be forgotten. A prospective full-time faculty member had a job offer rescinded. Phone calls were made to new hires to give them the “opportunity” to rescind the full time positions that they had worked so hard to earn. I don’t know what prompted that kind of drama. There are rumors out there that you were planning to lock us out. I hope that’s not true. I’m not sure it matters any more.

What do we need to do to get this done? Is it about Promotion?

I researched promotion schemes at the 30 Pathways schools in the first AACC Guided Pathways class. I was able to get a pretty good look at 26 of them – of those 26, 20 had promotion schemes very similar or even identical to our current structure.

Is it about evaluation?

I went back and read our HLC site visit report form April 2017.

Higher Learning Commission – Core Component 3.C
Institution has the faculty and staff needed for effective, high-quality programs and student services.

We met this criteria at the April 2017 site visit. I’m not sure what the indicator is that we are sub-standard on this front.

Two components of this that I think are of special concern to this board are 3 and 4:

3. Instructors are evaluated regularly in accordance with established institutional policies and procedures.

4. The institution has processes and resources for assuring that instructors are current in their disciplines and adept in their teaching roles; it supports their professional development.

Our contract defines the policy and procedure, so I think that #4 gets at the crux of it. Does our evaluation process assure that instructors are current in their disciplines and adept in their teaching roles?

Right now, full-time tenured faculty are evaluated based on teaching, advising, curriculum development, institutional committee work and other relevant activities. Student evaluations are conducted every three years – and sometimes more often than that. So far, HLC has deemed this process as meeting their standard. What is our indication that this doesn’t meet HLC standard? Why hasn’t administration shared this concern with us sooner?

Our proposal is a way for all of us to move forward.

There are things we wanted that we won’t get in that proposal, including financial increases on Summer, Insurance, Professional Development.

Current faculty salaries pool is 2.7% lower than it was in 2016. Our proposal to increase the base salary by 3% means that the pool increase each year would be 4.85%, 4.6% and 4.45% each year. Keep in mind that does not include promotions or retirements.

Cost of the entire proposal is less than 1% of the fund balance and is only about $800,000/year more than what you have proposed.

Our negotiation team has worked hours developing proposals and debating the rationale behind these proposals. Again, this is “our jam.” If you want to geek out about HLC criteria or monetary value of proposals – we’re your people. Ask us questions.

This whole process was not set up by any of us in this room. It was a previous board and previous leadership that decided against interest-based bargaining. It was previous leadership that thought discussions around this table would poison relationships between academic affairs administration and faculty.

I think we’ve proven otherwise.

Erich Hauenstein, Professor of Mathematics, comments to the BOT | Aug 15, 2019

Good evening, current members of the College of DuPage Board of Trustees, my name is Erich Hauenstein, a Mathematics Professor. I do not know any of you personally, but I have been teaching full time here at COD for the past 30 years and am speaking you tonight on behalf of many of my seasoned colleagues who have 15 or more years of experience at our college. We make up a majority of the full-time faculty and have devoted the prime of our lives and given our best to this institution and our students. Many of us have put down roots, have families like you, and raise children here. In turn, we have trusted in the commitment of the college to support the plans for our lives.

In the early years of COD we saw record enrollments and tremendous growth. Personally, I was fortunate to be an athletic coach and to see my teams blossom to earn multiple National Championships. It was a time of many national accolades for our college.

However, as you well know, these later years have been speckled with controversies and struggles for our institution. The Breuder years were difficult and left a stain on our good reputation. HLC accreditation problems and athletic probation have tarnished our image, and we too have not been left unscathed throughout all of this.

Many of my colleagues including myself have endured a stagnant yearly income, earning less now than we did 6-10 years ago while not only performing the same duties, but being asked to take on more. Our out-of-pocket healthcare costs continue to rise and eat into our salaries, thus the consequences of recent contracts have left our buying power dwindling while the cost of living has steadily risen. And while money isn’t everything, it is the currency that allows us to provide good things for our families.

In Chairman Napolitano’s e-mail today he mentioned a couple of times the need for the board to be fiscally responsible with the taxpayers’ money, and while I agree with that, it does not mean that in an affluent district like our own, where consistent tax money is apportioned towards maintaining excellence in our institution, the board should be tightfisted and miserly with the compensation for the educators that these same taxpayers intended those moneys to support.

In the face of these recent obstacles, this faculty still stands ready and eager to move forward to forge a better, brighter, renewed College of DuPage. In light of all this, we can’t understand why the board’s negotiation team has chosen to take such an antagonistic and adversarial role to these current contract negotiations. It leaves many of us longtime, experienced faculty feeling the board doesn’t really value our extended tenure here and frankly would rather replace us with a newer, cheaper model.

As son to a father who was lead negotiator for the Board of Trustees at a community college in Michigan for over 10 years, I know that you the board have the power and ability to change the current course of these negotiations for the better. We as your faculty ask you to reconsider your stance, so that together with Dr. Caputo we can usher in a new era of refinement and prosperity here at College of DuPage.

Thank you.

Jason Ertz, Reference Librarian, comments to the BOT | Aug 15, 2019

Good evening, my name is Jason Ertz and I have been a librarian and full time faculty member here at COD for 13 years so far. As a librarian, I spend many hours with students and community members assisting and teaching them about information. Its power. How to find it. How and why to evaluate it. And of course why it matters. My work and research here at COD, with the students, the community, and my faculty, staff and administrative colleagues is one of the most fulfilling I have had in my life.

I was raised in district 502 — I am a Downers Grove Mustang. After a tour in the Marine Corps and a couple of universities, it gave me great pleasure to come back to work for this community. The diversity of the student body is why I enjoy my work so much. From the students who are still figuring out their education goals, to the students starting a second career, every one of them makes my work life interesting and engaging. The students who come through the Library desperately wanting to ask questions but unsure how, keep me inspired to teach them how to think about and use information to answer their own questions and ask more sophisticated ones. I love assisting aspiring community members with their business research or their interest in history, poetry or a religion which they are unfamiliar, bringing a cultural foundation to our community. I know myself and my librarian colleagues work tirelessly to help our students become information literate – a key to student success.

As evidence of my commitment to our institution, I am a faculty leader on the Pathways project. I helped research Pathways and how it could best be implemented to our institution, educating faculty on how to make the Pathways process work best for our students, their education, and their educational goals. Even if some of the faculty want to choke me for it. We are on the front lines of our students’ education, helping them transfer to a 4 year school, enter the workforce or apprenticeship programs, and ultimately succeeding. Faculty are making Pathways run and leading it.

In the library scholarship, library anxiety and uncertainty are important concerns for helping students develop the habits and thinking skills of an information literate person. The affective domain, dealing with feelings, emotions, and motivation has a significant impact on learning at large, not just in research and library work. We faculty help students find their passions and education goals, building their internal motivation and positive direction. And we try our hardest to inspire the students in the classroom to WANT to know and the work necessary to create that knowledge that will help them begin to build their careers. We are a kind of leader, or mentor, to our students within the disciplines. It is no mistake that these same affective principles of motivation and emotional development are part of the work of leadership.

Leaders should inspire and motivate in order to help develop exceptional performance and fulfillment within the people from their organization. Actions on behalf of one’s organization speak louder than hollow praise. Fear, disrespect, and division rarely work to motivate or inspire a group of people except for maybe survival. History has shown us, they are used by the worst of rulers. I do everything possible to keep fear, disrespect, and division out of my classrooms and the Library, but my working conditions are students learning conditions. And as I came back from a vacation to a new school year, actions have me feeling terribly disheartened and demotivated. We can do better. Thank you.

Tauya Forst, Professor of Criminal Justice, comments to the BOT | Aug 15, 2019

Good evening,

I am Tauya Forst, an attorney by trade, but a Criminal Justice educator by choice!

STUDENTS MATTER!

They are why we rise 1-3 hours early to complete work at home prior to coming to the college and why we stay up late doing the same. Students are why we are connected to our email and Blackboard while preparing dinner, enjoying cultural events and spending time with our loved ones.

COD faculty have students’ dreams, thoughts, struggles, victories, arrests, and comprehensions ever before us.

Being a professor is not a job… It is a calling which requires complete dedication that supersedes any position I previously held, and I worked on a death penalty case. It challenges me in ways that I could have only dreamed of, but it continues to provide growth in areas which may have been blind to me.

Achieving the COD mission of excellence in teaching and learning requires a collaborative respectful COD team (Board of Trustees, Administrators, Faculty, Staff, and Community Stakeholders). I enumerate each group to remind us not of our differences, but that we are all educators modeling behavior for and with our students. They look to us for guidance and emulate our methods. If COD stakeholders refuse to value its faculty, what behavior are they modeling for our STUDENTS?

How have I seen the college’s excellence in teaching and learning exhibited?

In the Addison model where faculty Bob Clark, Ken Gray and I created success curriculum for the Project Hire-Ed Orientation.

In Elmhurst Citizens Police Academy where (as requested by a student) my husband Richard and I presented legal and emotional aspects of Intimate Partner Violence.

In the classroom, watching students dissect, define, and challenge the Constitution.

Finally, in Barrington where our students were US Supreme Court Justices O’Connor, Ginsberg (the Notorious RBG), Sotomayor and Kagan – seriously…our students, Irene, Aneekha, and Maria literally became these justices as they put on their black robes and told the stories of four remarkable women. After witnessing these students, I am encouraged to keep loving and doing what I have been blessed to do – teach and learn! Because after all putting students first means that all COD stakeholders must highly respect and value faculty.

Therefore, STUDENTS Matter so FACULTY should matter.

Dr. Tim Henningsen’s comments to the BOT | Aug 15, 2019

Board members, President Caputo, President Toler, colleagues. My name is Timothy Henningsen. I am an Associate Professor of English here. I also chair the college’s Composition Program, which has the unique distinction of enrolling more students than any other on campus. I am the Chair of the college’s Instruction Committee, where we work with a variety of constituents, including faculty and administration, to maximize teaching effectiveness at the college. I work closely with our 120 English adjunct faculty to promote our pedagogy and ensure best practices in the classroom. I serve on hiring committees. I participate in campus research projects. I present my work at conferences. And, lest I forget, in addition to all this I teach hundreds of students a year, in face-to-face & online courses. I work a whole heckuva lot. But good God I love my job.

I’ve been asked by my faculty colleagues to say a few words about that tonight, but I’d actually like to talk about that by way of someone else.

On March 10 of this year, the college lost one of our own. Professor of English Eric Martinson passed away after a nasty year-long battle with leukemia. Eric and I were hired together. We started the same day, and had offices next to one another. In a short 5 years, he became an incredible friend to me. But where I really learned to respect Eric was in watching him teach. I marveled at his commitment: meeting with students in his office, emailing them at all hours, staying after class. Always teaching, always advising, always supporting. Even in his final days on earth, lying in a hospital bed after brutal bouts of devastating chemotherapy, he would email former students providing words of encouragement.

He was undoubtedly one of the most beloved professors on campus. Professor Martinson was just 39.

I tell this story not to take advantage of the circumstances in which we, the faculty, and you, the board find ourselves in right now.

I tell it because Eric was like so many of the people in this room tonight. Eric devoted himself to his students. They absolutely adored him, because he cared about them.

While Eric’s story was cut short, my colleagues and I have created a scholarship to honor his legacy here — the Eric Martinson Memorial Scholarship — and I hope all of you would consider a donation. Many of you, including our own President Toler, President Caputo, Professors Hazard, and Evans, and Monnier, and Bowers, and Tipton, and Tungol, and Snart, and McGrath, and Murtaugh, and many, many more, have been incredibly generous already. But perhaps the most telling contribution comes from Barb Groves, who works in the Office of the Provost. Barb’s daughter, Kimberly, took Eric’s composition classes a few years ago. Barb isn’t on campus today, because she is helping Kimberly move into a new apartment. Next Wednesday, Kimberly begins graduate school at Clemson University, where she intends on becoming an English professor. Because of Eric.

He was an exemplar for what I and my faculty colleagues stand for. This scholarship will aid COD students, but it will also honor the unyielding guidance and support that teachers like Professor Martinson provided to so many here. Teaching matters, and Eric Martinson mattered.

Dr. Sam Mitrani’s comments to the BOT | Aug 15, 2019

Hello, my name is Sam Mitrani. I am a full-time faculty member in history.

As my students know, the study of history revolves around the search for the causes of things – We ask “why” questions — why did an economic crisis, a revolution, a war, or a social movement take place?

In that vein, I have to ask – why has the board taken such an aggressive stance against the faculty in these negotiations? Why has the board proposed to destroy our long-standing pay structure and impose an extremely ill-conceived and onerous system of evaluation on us, breaking with the way this school has been run in recent memory? Why would the board try to hire replacement teachers while negotiations are still ongoing? Why would the board make these moves, after faculty have, for years, agreed to give up pay and health care and accepted to do increasing amounts of work on one project after another?

The administration’s attacks on faculty are clearly detrimental to our students and to the whole College of DuPage community.

They seem designed to provoke an entirely avoidable labor dispute – faculty are certainly not itching for a fight, though we are not willing to see our working conditions and compensation undermined.

They also seem designed to demoralize the people who do the actual teaching at this school.

If the administration’s proposals are eventually imposed, they will seriously degrade our working conditions – which are our students’ learning conditions.

As the administration often points out, COD has an extremely talented, accomplished, and effective faculty. I am constantly impressed by my colleagues. The board’s proposals – and its disturbing habit of revoking hiring offers from people who have already gone through all the other steps to be hired here – will obviously make it increasingly difficult to hire and retain faculty of this level in the future. If being a faculty member here is made less attractive, the quality of the faculty will decline, which will obviously negatively affect our students.

How would that make us a “center of excellence?”

The college can clearly afford a reasonable contract. The college stands only to lose by provoking a labor dispute, and/or by imposing a contract that will be demoralizing and worsen teaching and learning conditions.

So, to circle back, why would the board do this? What is the cause of this problem?

I can really think of only two possibilities. Either 1) a significant number of board members really don’t understand the consequences that will flow from these actions. If that is the case, please realize that the path you are embarking on is destructive to this institution, our students, and the community.

Or, 2) some board members are willing to hurt the college, in order to make a name for themselves as anti-teacher, anti-labor politicians, hoping this will somehow help their careers. If this is the case, I urge the other board members to resist this nefarious counsel.

VP McGrath’s Comments to the Board of Trustees : Aug 15, 2019

Good evening. My name is Jackie McGrath. I’ve worked as an English professor at the College of DuPage for 15 years and I am honored to serve as the vice president of our Association. Tonight we call on the board to find a pathway for settling the contract. We request the board of trustees commit to doing what’s best for our students, which is coming to a fair agreement as soon as possible. As ICCB Executive Director Brian Durham pointed out during his address on Wednesday, there are more changes on the horizon for higher education in Illinois and we need to focus our collective efforts on the work to come. Settling the CODFA contract will make it possible for everyone to work together on issues that we all care about a lot, including student success and improved transfer opportunities. Let’s get this done.

Tonight I am grateful for my colleagues and community members for gathering with the COD Faculty in support of a fair contract because teaching matters. COD is beloved, and we all have strong relationships across the district—because of the roles we play at the College, and because we are a part of this community, and because teaching matters. We also have strong relationships withIN the College. Why? Because teaching matters. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: at COD, administrators come and go. Board members come and go. Even students pass through for a short time. But faculty and staff—full- and part-time—are here through thick and thin. And full- and part-time faculty are the frontline educators who persist in the work of teaching our students, no matter what is happening, year in and year out, and we know teaching matters. Our students matter. Our community matters.

And full- and part-time faculty have been through a lot together over the years. COD has put us through the wringer. We have shared memories and shared experiences and shared expertise. And full- and part-time faculty have many common interests and values. We all care about student success. And we all believe that teaching matters. Advising matters. Students matter. Union values matter. Our COD community matters.

The decision by COD to advertise over one hundred part-time 12-week positions shortly before the start of the 16-week semester certainly created another common cause for the full- and part-time faculty at COD, and it did not have to be this way. It’s one thing to make a plan, and it’s another thing to implement it. We are very grateful for the courage and support of our part-time colleagues in the face of such pressure. We are calling for a fair contract, and we think this board can find a way to get there. We are all here tonight to ask the board to show that it truly puts our students first.

President Toler’s Comments to the Board of Trustees : Aug 15, 2019

My name is Shannon Toler and I have worked at College of DuPage for 26 years, 18 of those as a full-time faculty member. I am here tonight proudly representing over 300 members of the COD Faculty Association. These are colleagues who have dedicated their careers to preparing District 502 students for a productive future. We are a top-performing transfer institution with cutting-edge programs created by faculty who understand workforce needs.

After two weeks of debate and deliberation about mediation, we are happy that COD has finally agreed to our request to enter mediation. We hope this is an indication of their willingness to take the next step towards a fair contract.

CODFA has also offered a comprehensive package for settlement that addresses the priorities articulated by your bargaining team and also results in fair compensation for our faculty. Most importantly, we believe our offer puts our students and their needs first.

Tonight, I’d also like to ask that you stop preparing for a strike by posting our jobs. And instead start focusing on reaching a fair agreement now.

I want to thank our union brothers and sisters in the COD Adjunct Association for the brave decision they have made not to take our jobs and the lucrative incentives offered by COD in the event of a strike. Thank you for standing with us in solidarity. Please understand the last thing CODFA wants is to go on strike. We want to be in our classrooms with our students. We want a fair contract now. Thank you.