Good evening. First and foremost, I hope that all is well in your households. Sitting on a college board right now is a unique kind of stress and I appreciate your service.
We learn a lot about ourselves and the people around us during challenging times. The words, the lack of words. The actions, the inaction. We figure out who we can count on. We gravitate toward competence. We identify who inspires us. We determine who our real leaders are.
All faculty have been working hard throughout the summer in preparation for this very unusual Fall. We are ready to bring our best selves to this environment, and on Monday we will start to help our students figure out how to bring their best selves to a virtual classroom.
I am especially grateful for the work that our adjunct faculty have put in, even when the support they’ve received has been uneven and sometimes absent. They deserve our full support – and that includes not just offering training sessions, but compensation for the time spent in those training sessions and the resources needed for this format of teaching. COD should better honor the work and resources these faculty have dedicated to our students and remember that COD doesn’t function without adjunct faculty.
Tonight, you will notice two full-time faculty resignations in your packet. Both of these faculty were hired away by universities – during a pandemic that has brought much uncertainty throughout higher education. That says a lot about the quality of our faculty.
I applaud that this board has added equity as a core value for COD. Our keynote speaker today was very impressed with that, and her review of our website left her thinking that we are quite advanced on the equity front. I suppose that’s what a web site is for… to project our best self. But I’m sure many of us grimaced a little bit at this praise.
We know that professing equity as a core value is not the same as living it. And while we have a host of initiatives underway to help us move in the right direction, we are most definitely not there yet. Faculty have work to do. Administration and Staff have work to do. This Board has work to do.
You also need to reflect on the role you have played to reinforce white privilege on this campus.
You can’t be fully responsible for the diversity of the Board of Trustees. The realities of running a campaign in a large district like ours make it difficult for COD to attract economically and racially diverse candidates.
However, this Board has had several opportunities to reach into the community and invite diverse participation on Board work. For example, you appointed a replacement for Deanne Mazzochi. Did you consider any candidates of color? Did you publicly promote the open position?
You populated the Presidential search committee with community members that look like you. The CODAA President and I even questioned you about that at the time – and your response was to suggest that we could perhaps recuse ourselves from the committee in favor of diverse faculty members. Because somehow, your friends in the community had more valuable input to offer than COD constituent leaders who had been elected by their peers.
Equity is not an issue that you can point to and tell us to fix. It’s not a word we put on our web site and just let it speak for itself. Everyone one of us needs to engage in developing and implementing solutions. Campus leadership in all areas — teaching, administration, and the board — should look more like the students that walk our hallways.
I truly believe that we all want to do better. COD is incredibly fortunate and I know we want to right by that good fortune.
The next time we have a keynote presenter offer up praise – hopefully in person – let’s all feel good about. And let’s reflect back on how hard we worked to get there.