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OCTOBER 2013, issue 2, volume 1:         Collaborating...           Mission Focus          Council Updates           Calendar 

Governance Connections Newsletter for 2013-14

Photo of Jason Rivera, College Council Chair
Jason Rivera,
College Council Chair

Collaborating in Transformational Times

As this edition of Governance Connections goes to print the United States Government remains "shutdown." Whatever your political or ideological beliefs, I hope we can agree that the shutdown is, simply put, bad business. The nation’s opposing ideological beliefs over the Affordable Healthcare Act or Obama Care, as it has been coined, reminds me of the current Academic Redesign with which we have embarked. Of course, there are significant differences—the Academic Redesign is a management right and Obama Care, which is now law, was something that went through the democratic process—but the importance of both is one that resonates with me.

The academic redesign is likely the most significant transformation Montgomery College will undergo in this decade, and it will have a significant impact on students, faculty, staff, administrators and the greater Montgomery County community. For this reason, I commend Dr. DeRionne Pollard, the College president, and Dr. Don Pearl, the senior vice president for academic affairs, for developing an inclusive process. As the teams for the redesign were created, Dr. Pearl sought recommendations for faculty and staff representation from the governance system. This gesture is one that I believe deserves highlighting as collegewide redesigns and/or restructuring is a management right and does not have to be done in a collaborative or inclusive manner.

Although the redesign is a management right, it is the College Council’s responsibility (as well as the responsibility of lower councils in the system) to represent the constituents who we serve and to express their concerns regarding the redesign. In that spirit, on October 8, 2013, during the College Council meeting, we discussed the Academic Redesign as well as a concern expressed by a faculty constituent during the September 24 open comments section. The discussion was very important and highlighted several issues regarding the restructuring of the College’s academic side of the house. The faculty member’s comments were one of many that council members have been hearing from constituents across the College. Accordingly, the College Council extended an invitation to Dr. Pearl to attend the next meeting of the College Council to discuss the questions and concerns we have gathered from our constituents and that resulted from our discussion. I would encourage anyone interested in the redesign to attend the next College Council meeting, scheduled on October 22, 2013 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Board of Trustees Conference Room (MK 115).

On another note, despite the rain last week, I had the great pleasure of speaking with colleagues at the Workforce Development and Continuing Education (WD&CE) picnic, which was organized by the WD&CE Council. Kudos to Annell Bond and her cabinet for coordinating a wonderful event! I was happy to play a small part, sharing a brief history of the participatory governance system and discussing the importance of increased constituent involvement. I would like to share that message here, too. Whether you decide to pursue a governance position, serve on a governance committee, or simply participate in a council meeting, I hope you consider getting involved. For some of you, that may be asking a lot. Rest assured, I will never minimize the cost of getting involved, as I recognize that it comes with a personal and professional price—we are all over extended in these very busy times. However, I believe the benefits do help balance the costs. As I see it, there are many benefits to getting involved at an institutional level including the development of a strengthened College community. On a more individual level, all who engage in governance gain a better understanding of the College and the resources available to the community, and those individuals have an opportunity to diversify their professional experiences and the contributions you make to students and the greater College community.  Individuals who are engaged in governance also have an opportunity to participate in collegewide initiatives that impact the entire organization.

In closing, it is my hope that constituents contribute to the development of a College culture that embraces inclusivity and a culture of shared responsibility. The governance system is positioned to serve as a vehicle for efficiently collecting stakeholder input and sharing that with senior leadership. This is what we shall do with the information we have received regarding the Academic Redesign and it will be what we continue to do as we realize the promise of governance. I hope you contribute to the process by getting involved or at the very least sharing your voice with your council members.

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Photo of Dr. Tacy Holliday, Governance Coordinator
Tacy Holliday, PhD,
MC Class of '03 and '10
Governance Coordinator

The Promises  of Governance:  Mission Focus

 

"What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make."

― Jane Goodall

 

One of the promises of participatory governance is the focus on mission. Mission is critically important because it helps us understand whether a response in a situation is right or wrong, whether an opportunity is one we should take, and whether a solution to a problem truly solves the problem. At Montgomery College, our mission states that "we empower our students to change their lives, and we enrich the life of our community. We are accountable for our results." That overall mission is achieved when we do the many jobs and tasks that are in alignment with that mission. Sounds easy, right? In reality, it is often more complicated than it seems.

I heard a story at a seminar I recently attended from Dr. Clayton Christensen, a professor of management at Harvard University, that illustrates this point. Dr. Christensen told about a time he was asked to consult with a fast food company about how to make a better milkshake.* He observed people buying milkshakes and discovered that there were two main categories of milkshake buyers. The first category was composed of customers who ordered their milkshakes later in the day. They were parents with children, and when Dr. Christensen asked the parents why they chose to buy milkshakes the answer he heard was that they had often spent the week telling the child no. No, there wasn’t money for dance lessons. No, there wasn’t time to go to the park. No, the child could not invite a friend over to spend the night. The milkshake made the child feel special and made the adult feel like he or she was being a good parent. It was a relatively cheap and quick way to say yes.

The second customer segment purchased milkshakes in the morning. When Dr. Christensen talked with these people he learned that they had long, boring commutes. They purchased the milkshakes as an entertaining breakfast. They believed the milkshake was a better choice for them than other breakfast foods because it made their commute more pleasurable, they could take their time drinking it, it kept them full for several hours, it left them with one hand free to drive at all times, and could it easily be stashed in the cup holder when they needed both hands on the wheel.

After talking to both groups of customers, Dr. Christensen realized that the correct answer for how to make a better milkshake depended on what job the milkshake was being purchased to do. For the afternoon customers, a milkshake that could be consumed more quickly would help the busy family finish the meal and get to their next activity faster. For the morning customers, a thicker milkshake would make the shake last longer. Bits of fruit would add an element of interest as long as the fruit was still small enough to drink through a straw. The shake would also be more appealing if the driver could quickly get it without having to waste time waiting. Dr. Christensen’s point was that to determine how to make a better milkshake we need to consider what job the milkshake is being asked to do.

The same consideration applies to making the College better. Do students want more opportunities to participate in campus activities and extracurricular programs or do they want to complete their course or degree while spending as little time on campus as possible? It depends on the student and why that student is attending Montgomery College. The same kind of question could be asked of any other College group. The One College model asks us to think more broadly about how we can make a better College so that an improvement in one area does not create a corresponding problem in another area. When the needs of two groups cannot be equally met, if we approach the situation from a Collegewide perspective, we can understand what the apparent needs are so that negative impacts can be lessened and future opportunities for resolution can be identified. Governance provides a unique way to achieve such a Collegewide understanding.

From a governance perspective, what the councils do is look at an issue brought to their attention and consider what response to the issue would make the College better from their viewpoint. When other perspectives are also relevant, they consult with other councils. There is intentional overlap built into the governance system because College leaders recognize that many issues benefit from consideration from multiple perspectives. The councils fulfill their part in the mission of the College by helping constituents and leaders understand different perspectives and needs so that more robust decisions can be made. Each council has a particular charge that defines its alignment to mission. You can read the charges of the various councils by visiting this page (http://bit.ly/15VW3NI) and then clicking the name of any council you wish to view.

The College community helps to maximize the promise to focus on mission in two ways. The first is by sharing our needs with the councils that represent us. The second, and perhaps even more important function, is to learn about what is valued by people whose role in the College is different from ours. This is part of what makes governance more than a big suggestion box. The dialogue that takes place from multiple perspectives allows us not only to be heard but to hear. When we gain clarity about more than just our side of any given issue, we are best positioned to create a better Montgomery College.

 

*Clayton Christensen recorded a version of the story he shared with our seminar in his book, titled, How Will You Measure Your Life?

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We're Listening

We're Listening!

Council Updates

Academic Services Council

The Academic Services Council invites the College community to attend its meetings this fall. The Academic Services Council considers discussions on academic support programs, including assessment centers, labs, registration, scheduling, website information, and transfer and articulation agreements, and the council forwards suggestions to the College Council, the senior vice presidents, or other councils, as appropriate, for further consideration and/or action. The council hosted a special meeting on September 26 to discuss issues related to the winter session 2014 schedule. The council is continuing work this fall to review quiet study space options for students across the College.

 

Faculty Council

Given the busy Professional Week this fall, the Faculty Council members discussed options for increasing the productivity of that week while allowing faculty to address teaching-related activities. Work has also continued on the selection and implications of moving toward an entirely online course catalog. Feedback about online catalog criteria has been solicited and questions have been answered. The choice of vendor has not been made but options will be reviewed and a decision will hopefully be made by the end of the fall semester. Faculty Council representatives are also present on the Learning Technologies Committee, the Sabbatical Leave Committee, the IRB Committee, and the Faculty Services Award Committee.

The Collegewide Curriculum Committee (CCC) reports directly to the Faculty Council and has developed rubrics and streamlined procedures related to the College’s general education program. The CCC is interested in receiving feedback about their undertakings. The Faculty Council has also spent a significant amount of time discussing the College’s academic restructuring, specifically as it relates to the role of department chairs. The council has requested that its constituents serve on restructuring workgroups, to which 27 full-time and part-time faculty have volunteered.

 

Staff Council

The Staff Council has been very busy this fall addressing issues of constituent concern. Some of our discussions have centered on the topics of salary and raise issues, Collegewide security issues, and plans for the 2014 Staff Enrichment Day. The council is also continuing the use of three Staff Council standing committees: an Education Committee, a Communication Committee, and an Engagement Committee. The Staff Council welcomes all to get involved. If any staff member is interested in participating on a committee, please feel free to e-mail staffcouncil@montgomerycollege.edu.

The council has also had full participation at all meetings and has sponsored a successful "Greet before the Meet" session in September at the Office of Information Technology Building. Those information sessions are held immediately before every second monthly meeting and they rotate among the campuses and off-site locations. While enjoying refreshments, all staff are invited to meet and share any suggestions and concerns with the council. If any staff members have a question, concern, or an idea to share, all are welcome to contact the chair of the Staff Council, Andy Lucido. In addition, look for the monthly Staff Council newsletter for more information about the council.

 

Student Council

The Student Council has been busy this fall, and of particular note is the council’s recent discussion of possible alternatives to the College’s current pay-for-printing model, WEPA. The council has also strategized about and organized a book exchange for students, and the council provided input on a new College e-mail system for students.

 

Germantown Campus Council

The Germantown Campus Council meets the first Tuesday of each month. In September the council heard an update about the state of the campus, which included information about a new parking lot. The council also discussed library initiatives on textbooks and session management. Council members began a discussion about a number of issues affecting the campus and the College. In October the council heard several constituent concerns regarding issues affecting the campus and the College and heard a presentation by the College athletic coordinator/trainer about the College’s student-athletes. The council also received an update the Office of Information Technology initiatives and also considered how decisions should be made at the College and how governance councils can work efficiently.

 

Workforce Development & Continuing Education Council

In the Workforce Development & Continuing Education (WD&CE) Council’s first meeting of the year on September 3 the council voted to approve and implement the three outreach activities developed by an ad-hoc group over the summer. Those activities are a slogan contest with the theme to promote governance, "walkabouts" by council members to all WD&CE staff office locations, and a WD&CE staff picnic sponsored by the council. The council’s Communications Committee, which was also busy over the summer, developed an online survey with a data collection period from September 16 – October 4, where the committee solicited input on internal communication problems and resolutions.

MC Governance

In addition to these newsletter reports, all 12 councils and the College Council post minutes detailing the discussion items that occurred in each public meeting. Click on any of the menu links to your left to see the minutes from each council! 

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