‘Wounded’ faculty pass 2020 resolution, want say in new administrative hires

The OCCC Faculty Association met Sept. 22 and voted unanimously to make their voices heard about low morale on campus, how they want the next president chosen, and how the president must be held accountable for alleged misdeeds.

They passed the “2020-2021 Resolutions to the  Board of Regents” listing a number of requests they want the OCCC Board of Regents to sign-on to benefit the faculty and the college as a whole. 

The faculty chair gave it to Provost Jeremy Thomas, and it was received by the Regents last week.

In the meeting, the Faculty Association acknowledged that there is a historically low morale among college faculty, resulting from a fear of retaliation from high-level administrators.  

“The faculty has been wounded and these wounds have gone uncared for,” a Faculty Association member said.

No faculty agreed to have their names given for fear of retaliation.

There have been many many… people that have endured, have gone to different places to work or got fired, and now is the time for faculty to be a voice for the people that have gone before us that we know have been wounded.”

“The wounded matter and this is the time to be a voice,” another Faculty Association member said in the meeting.

As part of the resolution, the Faculty Association wants the OCCC Board of Regents to provide questions and answer sessions before significant policies are changed, when policies involve participation from faculty and impact students. 

They say meaningful faculty involvement has not been sought by the Regents for several years.

A long-time Faculty Association member also said that they witnessed in a Board or Regents meeting how the faculty is not being represented accurately.

“The board has been insulated from the faculty and they have not had direct input from us.”

Further, the faculty wants the procedure for how someone is chosen to be an administrator to change because administrative vacancies have been filled by appointment and not via national search. 

Administrators are those who oversee groups of people and shape the college’s actions, such as deans, vice presidents or Provost.

The Faculty Association members, through the resolution, said they want national searches and committees to help choose all administrators.

For the past number of years, under the current president’s tenure, top administrators have been appointed to their positions, such as Thomas, Vice President for Academic Affairs Kim Jameson and others, the faculty said at the meeting.

The faculty feel appointing people prevents faculty, staff, and students from having a voice about impactful hiring decisions that affect everyone, according to the resolution.

The faculty also said they support the OCCC Board of Regents in their search for a new president.

However, they strongly request the next president be chosen through a national search that involves the input from students, staff, and faculty. 

There is strong concern that the next president will be appointed from a member of the current leadership team–either Gardner, Danita Rose or Thomas– rather than going through traditional hiring practices, according to the Faculty Association.

“We are on the front lines and we want to be a part of things,” a Faculty Association member said.

The Faculty Association also requests that if there is a need to replace an administrator, “there be no lowering or ignoring of standard, and that all hiring be policy-based, or qualification based.”

In the event where it is necessary for temporary selection for an administrative job, the faculty association requests that the individual appointed meet standard and qualification in accordance with college policy,” the resolution states.

Hopes to increase morale

Concerning the lack of communication and or fear of retaliation between faculty and administration, the Faculty Association requests that problems be resolved by the faculty choosing a representative that will directly communicate with the Board of Regents without any administrative employees being involved in this needed line of communication. 

“This is the time for us to speak up because the Regents are listening right now,” a faculty member said at the meeting.

Another faculty member expressed that the resolution is in a way doing a service to the Board of Regents because if they are not already aware of the problems, then the resolution is telling them that this is what it is. 

Many serious issues are coming to the surface, and this resolution gives the Regents a chance to move forward towards positive change, the faculty member said.

“The items that we target in the resolution are very deliberate because we have specific examples from individuals to back it up,” a faculty member said.

The Faculty Association is continuing to make a list of grievances and encourages all faculty who would like to, to share their specifics with a member of the executive committee.

“ I think we need to take advantage of things that are happening right now, and strike while the iron is hot,” a faculty member said.

Photo information: The above artwork is not an image of the Faculty Association meeting. The Faculty Association regularly meets in an old and dimly lit classroom in the Main Building. This semester the group is meeting on Zoom.

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