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.