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.