Hello and good evening.
My name is Elizabeth Arnott-Hill. I am a professor of psychology and the vice president of the faculty association.
I am pleased to see four of my colleagues recommended for tenure tonight and heartened to note that their tenure recommendation is properly tied to the student success component of our strategic long-range plan. I hope it goes without saying that student success, a term we hear a lot these days, is not possible without a strong and well-supported faculty. Faculty are fundamental to student success. We certainly aren’t the only piece of the puzzle, but we are an essential one.
In recent years, the number of full-time faculty hired and subsequently approved for tenure has declined. We have core disciplines, like math, which is down approximately 10 positions from a decade ago. Faculty who provide essential services to our students, like our counseling team, are down a number of positions, even though demand for their services has steadily increased. At the same time, faculty are being asked to do more work outside of the classroom, often in the name of student success.
Each month, the board hears presentations from my faculty colleagues about their outstanding work for the college – new grants, new programs and certifications, community outreach programs, OER textbooks, field study and study abroad programs, and accomplishments with student clubs. This is work that supports our students and promotes COD in the community. As our ranks diminish and our workload increases, our ability to engage in this high impact work is restricted. If our goal is student success, it is imperative that our numbers remain adequate to serve our student population directly. We also need adequate faculty so that the hours we devote to implementing the initiatives developed at the administrative level are distributed in such a way as to not to take away from the time we have for our students. Fewer full-time faculty plus more hours devoted to new initiatives does not add up. Additionally, it is essential that such college wide plans are vetted in a way that increases the likelihood that they will have demonstrable positive effects, that they are given adequate time for implementation, that concrete data regarding impact is clearly communicated, and that initiatives which are determined by evidence to be without merit are discarded.
As we look ahead, it is imperative to not only think about making changes that are flashy and disruptive, but also to remember that we can’t ignore the fundamentals. Our institution is only as strong as the quality of education that we provide. And quality education requires faculty.