Category Archives: Leadership

CODFA Leadership Blog
Announcements and commentary from the CODFA President and Vice President.

CODFA Pres Goldberg Comments to the BOT | Aug 19, 2022

Good evening. It feels great to be back on campus at the start of a new semester.

Today, the faculty panel on four connections was strong. The break-out session on stress and burnout led by Counseling Faculty Silvia Donatelli and Dennis Emano provided explanations and ways to address the growing challenges a lot of us face. Given the strong faculty turnout I think this panel was timely and needed. We should consider a check in later this semester.

On my way to and from the MAC yesterday I encountered students and parents walking their schedules. Eager to start their college experience from the looks of it.

A big part of this in-service week’s success is due to the diligent efforts of Tina Bures, Jenn Kelley, and Nicole Matos. Thank you for your work. It makes ours easier and allows many of us to focus on Monday morning.

Much of what makes COD a great place to attend is the people that teach and work here. That starts with hiring committees. The search committee process is problematic to say the least, across a number of areas.

To be clear, I am not referencing any current faculty search committees.

There are a number of problems from minor to potential ethical lapses about which we should all be concerned.

The high turnover and missing out on good people from vice-presidents, directors, managers, groundskeepers and associate vice presidents is an issue.

Outgoing employees should not populate committees to pick their successors. That is a conflict of interest without extenuating circumstances.

There are three large issues that need to be addressed immediately:

1. Timing

Most searches in the academic world are announced via discipline and area specific communications earlier in the fall. Jobs are announced internally, externally, locally, nationally and internationally. The committee is convened begins the process and by mid-spring is having on campus interviews and making offers.

At COD recently, search committee work starts at odd times. Some began in the summer when at least 1/3 of faculty are not on campus. This is not the norm and not consistent with our best practices. The outcome is we are not getting the best applicants, who in many cases have already accepted positions elsewhere.

2. Training of Committees and conducting their work

Greater direction and training of all search committees is needed on campus. That’s hard to do when there is so much turnover in HR.

If the will of the committee is routinely ignored or overruled, that has a trickle-down impact on morale. People don’t want to work on committees for dozens of hours over months and months when there is a pre-determined outcome. This is bad for our institution.

3. Lowballing Candidates

From groundskeepers, faculty, student assistants, to upper management, applicants are turning down positions because they can earn a better wage/salary elsewhere. Beyond understaffing key positions, it hurts our reputation as an attractive place to work that attracts the best candidates.

Given the economic circumstances, this is not the time to lose candidates as it is, anecdotally, a reason frequently given.

Replacing permanent positions with interims that last for a significant time also hurts our internal culture and has been noted both internally and externally. It’s time to remove the interim label from so many.

Timing, training and lowballing need to be addressed.

This is not a contractual issue. It is an issue that this board can and should address by clarifying the process for everyone involved.

Thank you.

CODFA VP Elizabeth Arnott-Hill Comments to the BOT | April 21, 2022

My name is Elizabeth Arnott-Hill. I am professor of psychology at COD, and I currently serve as the vice president of the faculty association.

First, I want to express my appreciation of the hard work of the faculty, staff, and administrators who have worked diligently to prepare for next week’s HLC visit. I have every confidence that your excellent work is going to pay off.

As we near the end of the semester, I have been reflecting quite a lot, as I typically do this time of year, about my students and their outcomes, in my courses and also more generally as they pursue future endeavors. Like most professors, I have lofty goals for my students. I want them to develop academically but also as people; growing in general knowledge, but also in cognitive, interpersonal, and even basic life skills. I hope that education changes their lives for the better, as it has mine, and I hope I can be a small part of that process.

It is with those ideals in mind that I struggle when I hear the value of education being reduced to metrics. As a social scientist I am a firm believer in using evidence to make decisions. However, I also know that complex things rarely have simply definitions, much less explanations or solutions.

As we comb through survey results and benchmarking data, I would like to encourage us as an institution to think more deeply about how we are serving students instead of focusing on how to simply improve numbers by developing one-size-fits-all solutions. It is my hope that we can broaden our definition of “student success” beyond a final grade in a course. To draw valid conclusions, we must recognize that one outcome cannot reflect the myriad goals and experiences of our students. Single quantitative measures are not sufficient to measure the multitude of qualitative experiences. And an overemphasis on these single quantitative measures could potentially blind us to the richness of the story our data have to tell.

Thank you.

CODFA Pres Goldberg Comments at Special BOT Meeting | March 21, 2022

Good evening.

Tonight, the board votes on proposed tuition and fee increases for the fall of 2022. This is not an easy decision, especially given the number of students at COD who face financial hardship before and during COVID. I hope that the board will make the correct decision to propose modest increases for the health and longevity and work to assist students for whom even modest increases can be a significant obstacle in their pursuit of higher education.

Tonight board members will also hear a presentation on student success indicators. According to the presentation in the board packet, the information relies heavily on the Baldrige Criteria.
The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program sounds prestigious and is worthy of a bit more attention.

It is housed at the Commerce Department and applies primarily to the private sector including health care, businesses and non-profits. In 2014-2015 the last two years for which data was available, there were six schools total that applied.

Baldrige was first instituted under a previous administration that, unfortunately, still casts a long shadow over COD. It might be worth considering wandering into the early 21st century in developing appropriate metrics to pursue success at COD.

Before going any further I would like to turn your attention to the slides on pages 8-9 of tonight’s board packet. Please look carefully for use of “students” anywhere on those two pages.

While I was unable to find any mention of students, “customers” appear prominently and account for 8.5% of the total weighted value. I couldn’t find faculty either, but will save that for another meeting.

If we have only customers and no students, it calls into questions the very value of higher education. Customers exchange money for a product or service of value. Higher education is not transactional and should not be treated as such.

Student success is narrowly measured as a grade of C or higher. In looking at a number of other community colleges participating in the benchmarking project, many had goals including increasing enrollment and strengthening retention, but I did not see a narrow, superficial definition that includes a metric that is very specific and cannot be compared across disciplines let alone colleges.

It’s unfortunate that attempts to measure what we do as a college are reduced to a customer consumer relationship and the shallowest of measures of helping students accomplish their goals.

We already have a student success plan. It’s called teaching and learning.

CODFA Pres Goldberg Comments to the BOT | March 17, 2022

Good evening,

I would like to begin by thanking Board Chair Dunne and President Caputo for their efforts to chart a sound fiscal path for the College of DuPage: modest tuition increases and collecting the appropriate tax levy. These are not easy decisions taken lightly. The uncertain current economic environment makes them all the more challenging and necessary. Lifting the hiring suspension contributes to a climate of stability for faculty and all employees and is appreciated.

We recognize the Board takes its role seriously and value the discussions around these issues. I would also like to thank the efforts of CFO Scott Brady. Scott visited shared governance this month to provide some context and will be visiting faculty senate next month to do the same. His willingness to clarify often opaque financial matters with patience and good humor is valued.

I am eager to see a growing turnout of faculty and students sharing their thoughts on a wide range of issues this evening.

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure to serve on a panel with professors Ben Whisenhunt from History and Joel Quam from Geography on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It was exciting and invigorating to address a group of students, colleagues, and community members on issues of timely significance that animates much of our teaching. Thank you to Joan Dipiero for making that even possible. It’s always a pleasure to work with Joan as she highlights the best of COD faculty.

Together we can drive the snakes out of Ireland. Thank you.

CODFA Pres Goldberg Comments to the BOT | Feb 24, 2022

I would like to offer an optimistically preemptive congratulations to the eighteen colleagues who will be approved for tenure after the board of trustees vote. This vote represents an investment in the future of the institution, not one that should be taken lightly by the faculty involved or the administrators who help facilitate the process.

In the face of a significant number of retirements in the coming months among all groups, it is exciting to welcome new members to our ranks who shape the direction and personality of the college.

I would like to offer the same congratulations to the thirty-seven administrators who see their contracts renewed for another year. It was a pleasure this month to start what I hope will be a longstanding practice of meeting with all deans on a monthly basis. Increased communication between faculty and deans is a recipe to avoid confusion and head off issues before they develop. We look forward to working together.

Manufactured Crises

On February 9, the Budget Committee met and discussed among other things President Caputo’s hiring suspension, which was initially communicated to the cabinet on February 7. After two weeks of repeated requests for information, it was shared on Monday, 2/21.

At the January board meeting, I praised President Caputo for approving fourteen faculty hires next year. In the intervening two weeks was there a dramatic transformation of the college’s financial position and enrollment? No, there was not. This information has been available and known to all parties for at least a year. To publicly announce new hires and then rescind that without additional information is disingenuous at best.

For multiple individuals to discuss the need for cutting faculty, full-time or part-time, without honestly discussing all options available is disingenuous at best. When actors at the college proposed and supported freezing the tax levy year after year, under the guise of fiscally sound judgement, while ignoring the inevitable need to increase revenue streams and paying only attention to the politically expedient scapegoating of faculty, we are disappointed and expect more. Supporting faculty at the College of DuPage should not require courage or leadership.

Is there a budget crisis, or is it manufactured unnecessarily for purposes other than healthy, stewardship of the institution?

CODFA Pres Goldberg Comments to the BOT | Oct 21, 2021

Good evening,

Tonight’s board packet includes the retirements of Professors Thomas Ruehlman of Biology, Janice Miller of Nursing, Edison Wells of Counseling, and Barbara Anderson also of Biology.

Among her significant accomplishments at the College of DuPage, Professor Anderson has served on the Instruction Committee. This committee is instrumental in the development and implementation of issues related to teaching. Professor Anderson is retiring after 42 years of service to the College of DuPage and the community. Barb shared today that when she started there were 100 full-time faculty. I don’t know the number of FTEs in the early Reagan Administration, was but I’m guessing it was significantly less.

Professor Ruehlman served 32 years.
Professor Wells served 22 years.
Professor Miller 20 years.

That’s nearly 120 years of institutional memory walking out the door to new challenges and opportunities.

How do we as an institution replace that institutional memory? Well, I can tell you how we don’t do that, and that’s by not hiring full-time tenure-track replacement faculty.

According to an extremely informal poll of our colleagues:

English is down at least four FTF not counting those serving in administrative roles.

Music two announced retirements this year, not counting the botched tenure track of a Harvard PhD.

Graphic Design: 2 retirements with a 1 year temp position.

Photography: down 3 full-time.

Accounting/Business: Down 2 replacement faculty.

Math: Ten retirements in the last seven years with two hires.

Welding: Down 1.

Automotive Tech: Down 1.

Interior Design: Down 1.

That’s at least 26 full-time faculty that retired and have not been replaced.

In looking at the budget, I saw that the College received over $60million in COVID-related federal dollars. While some of that money is restricted, the nearly $160 million in the General Education fund has more flexibility.

Why has Academic Affairs not been more aggressive about supporting the core mission of the College? Millions of dollars are spent pursuing the latest academic fad, while the programs that necessitate our existence continue to wither on the vine by design.

Let’s honor the legacy of the women and men who made their careers here by hiring the appropriate number of full-time faculty and stop chasing academic fads.

CODFA Pres Goldberg Comments to the BOT | Aug 19, 2021

Good evening,

Monday starts the fall semester and, for many, a return to campus. I am grateful for the opportunity to do so.

While our pandemic challenges are not finished, Monday represents a sort of new normal. My classes are hybrid. For me that means one day in class face-to-face and the second day a mix of assignments. A challenge I relish.

Coming back to campus this week in preparation and to participate in in-service has been comforting and odd, simultaneously. I missed the rhythm of campus and interacting with students and colleagues. Like many I have experienced a bit of zoom burnout, finding it increasingly difficult to establish the connections that best create an environment conducive to teaching and learning.

Which is why today’s keynote address on recovering bandwith from Cia Verschelden was so effective. Her comments on recapturing bandwith, helping students reclaim cognitive resources, addressed the issues many of us struggle with in class and our society and at large in an accessible manner. Reaching out to students by name and connecting seems simple and something most of us do, but is more important than ever.

Her comments were also impactful in addressing the varieties of traumas that our students bring to the classroom. Poverty, race, and social marginalization are both apparent and invisible. Recognizing those challenges in a functional and progressive manner is a task we can all embrace.

Thank you Jenn Kelley, Nicole Matos, and the Office of Academic Affairs for bringing Dr Verschelden to campus.

I also want to mention college-wide faculty of the year English professor Jason Snart, whose comments were a reflection of the best of COD faculty. Beyond his mention of noonball and Star Trek, I was particularly struck that he took time to thank people that often escape public recognition, administrative assistants and adjunct faculty. These individuals help facilitate all of our success.

We will hear from Professor Snart at next month’s board meeting.

Walking to my office on Tuesday, I ran into someone who works in the mail room and copy center that I hadn’t seen since March 2020. We stopped to talk about a variety of things but what struck me was his gratitude toward President Caputo and his office for their support during the pandemic. It would have been an easy decision to lay off a number of college employees during the worst of the last 18 months. Although federal money helped facilitate these decisions, I would like to thank President Caputo’s office for helping finding creative ways to minimize the material cost of the pandemic for college employees. These are the kinds of actions that make us all proud to be part of a larger college community.

Finally, I’m excited to hear from COD alum and relatively newly minted PhD Dr Haroon Atcha, who will be addressing student preferences on delivery modalities. Dr. Atcha is also a prime example of the best of the College of DuPage.

CODFA Pres Goldberg Comments to the BOT | July 15, 2021

Good evening,

With a little more than a month remaining in summer before faculty return to campus, I thought I would take a moment to reflect on the summer so far.

This week I reconnected with a student who dropped out of classes in March of 2020 and is seeking to finish the course we had together. Their eagerness to discuss the outstanding work and finish the class was instructive. They were also unaware of college resources available to help students struggling during and after the current difficult circumstances. I hope we are doing all we can as an institution to make students and the community aware of the resources dedicated to this.

Tomorrow I’m meeting with a student who had their academic career interrupted to complete military service for the purpose of completing a course.

Next week I’m having lunch with a former student who, after completing COD and a BA at Lewis University, went on to pursue a graduate degree at Arizona State University. Haroon Atcha earned his PhD in Political Science in 2020. Today Haroon does data science at a large private sector company. When I reached out to ask his approval to mention his story, he insisted that I share much of his success should be attributed to Business Professor Jane Murtaugh and retired Political Science Professor Chris Goergen.

A recent piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled, “Your Most Important Resource is Eyeing the Door,” emphasized qualitative research in which students underscore the importance of a mentor relationship as pivotal in students accomplishing their goals. The article goes on to focus on trusting faculty in and out of the classroom to be innovative. This involves a high degree of trust between college administrators and faculty. The degree of trust that is currently spotty and incomplete here at COD.

This week we were notified of the arbitrator’s ruling in a case involving tenure. The ruling clarified that changes to the tenure process have to be negotiated with the faculty association. There can be no unilateral changes to the process. Management rights do not extent to arbitrarily changing conditions of employment for tenure track faculty. This is the second arbitration, intending to unilaterally change tenure, that ruled in favor of the faculty, the contract, and state law as pertaining to tenure.

These arbitrations are tremendously costly. Beyond the thousands of dollars both sides expend along the way, it takes time. A resource better spent in and around the classroom. It is our hope this ruling will be internalized more effectively.

Finally, I serve on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Subcommittee. Equity is receiving a greater focus these days at our the College of DuPage and rightfully so. One area where our institution can walk the talk is in discussions with CODAA and eligibility requirements. No faculty should lose their position or ability to participate in CODAA (and enjoy better working conditions) due to COVID. Where classes were cancelled and faculty lost their ability to teach, they should not be additionally penalized due to circumstances beyond their control. This is not a difficult equity issue. Some of the tens of millions of dollars COD has received from the federal government should be allocated to address this issue. Make diversity a real priority and do the right thing.

Thank you.

CODFA President Goldberg Comments to the BOT | May 20, 2021

Good evening,

Tomorrow marks the conclusion of another semester and for several thousand students the end of their time at COD. Whether it be an associate’s degree, a certificate, enhanced skills for the job market or transfer to another institution, tomorrow’s virtual graduation will be the conclusion of their time at our institution.

The last fifteen months have been especially challenging for students and our community. While tomorrow’s graduation is the second under the specter of COVID, it is my hope it is the last. Under the best of circumstances faculty are inundated with requests to accommodate unique personal and professional situations. While those might often be viewed with skepticism, under the circumstances of the recent past I think most faculty work to be more understanding. I’m reminded of a student who became homeless last semester in my Intro class but managed to complete the class. This semester I have had several students with family members navigating COVID related issues, the challenges of parenthood and full-time jobs.

I am reminded of how resilient our institution and community are. It is my hope we emerge stronger in the face of these challenges.

I can speak for many faculty when I say we are excited to hear VP Bente’s updated plans for the return to campus in the fall. I have appreciated working with Jim Bente and Shared Governance Council as these details unfold. With the updated information that Illinois will be transitioning to Phase 5 and something approaching normalcy, many of us are excited to transition back to the routine of the classroom, face-to-face meetings and office hours.

As our institution faces this constantly evolving challenge, faculty ask that our unique circumstances be taken into consideration. Those include immune-suppressed family members, the absence of a vaccine for children under 12 and the task of addressing schooling and day care issues. We need advanced notice to order our family and work lives if significantly more faculty are expected to return in person to campus. Faculty do not treat our students with a one-size-fits-all approach and expect the same as we begin the next phase.

While she has an additional month in time at the College, I would like to take a moment and thank Marianne Hunnicutt for her service to the College. I have had the pleasure of working with Marianne as my dean for many years. She has served in so many different roles, we developed the term “Super Dean” to capture Marianne’s ability to pivot on a dime and serve an ever-expanding number of faculty and disciplines with her tireless work ethic, commitment to students and fairness. She has served as a model for what a dean should be and how faculty and deans work together. That does not mean that Marianne always agreed with faculty, but it means I always knew her door was open and she would engage in a real exchange about the accomplishments and challenges we faced. You will be missed.

I wish to call attention to the increase in abnormalities related to the search committee process for faculty and administrators. The general outlines of the process have existed for some time and served the College of DuPage well. Hiring committees are time intensive and richly rewarding as we have a say in determining our colleagues at all levels. Recently, that process has lost elements of transparency and accountability. That loss comes at a high price of trust and morale, and I ask that the board and administration reconsider these ill-conceived changes. We are all better served when the process is clear and arbitrary decisions are avoided.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the outstanding full-time faculty member English professor Jason Snart. Jason is a wonderful colleague known for his innovation in online teaching, commitment to students and colleagues. I look forward to returning to playing basketball with him in the not-too-distant future.

CODFA President Goldberg Comments to the BOT | April 29, 2021

Good evening.

Thank you to Frank Napolitano and Chuck Bernstein for your years of service to the college. We hope that you enjoy your newfound freedom on Thursday nights to the fullest.

On behalf of the full-time faculty, I would like to extend our warmest congratulations to Heidi Holan on her reelection and Flo Appel and Nick Howard on their election to the board of trustees.

We look forward to working with you all to write the next chapter of the College of DuPage with a renewed focus on students, faculty, staff and the community.

Among the first requests of the new board, I would like to ask the following: that there be no interruptions in service from the first day of the semester to the last day of finals involving technology that we use to teach and students need to learn. These interruptions are disruptive and make an already challenging environment all the more so.

Instability and uncertainty are not limited to information technology.

Over the past five years the division of nursing and health sciences has had three different deans, several of which were removed amidst allegations of wrongdoing. This kind of instability makes it difficult for faculty to teach, preparing students for jobs in the field of health care or the next stop in their education. And it makes it difficult for students to learn.

As in the previous cases, the current case came after more than a year of substantiated faculty concerns expressed through a variety of channels. Instead of partnering with faculty to address the issues and move forward, the response has been to ignore or minimize faculty concerns. These actions come at a cost, as is now apparent to all.

I ask that this latest example serve as an opportunity not to continually view faculty as adversaries but as partners in addressing issues. The continued drain in resources for the school and taxpayers is unhelpful and detrimental to the goals of the college.

I would like to congratulate the new dean who is being approved tonight and wish him well, to a long and stabilizing career in a division that badly needs it.

Finally, Monday begins contract negotiations with the College of DuPage adjuncts association. Our adjunct colleagues work hard under difficult conditions for meager compensation. Since they teach the majority of classes at COD, these negotiations should be viewed as an investment in the future of our students and the institution.

Thank you.