Frank Talk From the President’s Desk – April 2018
Posted by The NCCFT Executive Committee
Hurricane Sandy struck Long Island during the Fall 2012 semester and created a nightmare. We had displaced members of the community living in the PhysEd complex; FEMA established offices on campus; faculty, staff and student homes were destroyed; and, on top of all that, classes were disrupted, causing a whole other kind of chaos. Many faculty members, while attempting to recover from personal tragedy, came to the aid of the community and our students. We did everything in our power to accommodate affected students and give them the chance to complete their semester successfully, without compromising academic integrity. We did this without a policy for “make-up days” and the actions we took were personal and voluntary.
The chaos of that semester did, however, bring into clear focus the fact that finding a way to make up missed classes was critical to our mission and part of our academic obligation to our students. As a result, the Academic Senate Calendar Committee crafted, and the Academic Senate agreed upon, the make-up-day policy that presently exists. While there is always room for improvement, just establishing this policy was a major accomplishment given the dysfunctional mood of the campus at the time it was created.
This year, we are also facing a kind of academic chaos, the result of class cancellations forced on us by four Nor’easters. In trying to deal with that chaos, however, we have discovered that our post-Sandy make-up-day policy does not account for the pattern of missed time we’ve been face with this year. In other words, our current policy does not provide for a way for us to make up this missed time college-wide. Making things even more difficult, the added pressure on our schedule of the spring semester’s two, week-long breaks gives faculty little room to maneuver, even on a case-by-case basis.
In response to this situation, the Administration met with the NCCFT, ASEC and Chairs’ leadership. In proposing possible solutions, Dr. Keen has been respectful of the CBA and the Senate policy on make-up days, and, as I write this post, the Calendar Committee is considering an amendment to our make-up-day policy. The plan is for this amendment to be discussed at the April 10 Senate meeting. I encourage our members to engage in discussion about the issue of make-up days in particular and, in general, about what an academic calendar that ensures academic integrity should look like.
The NCCFT has been notified that the search committee for the Dean for Health Sciences has been formed. While the committee includes all the department chairs from Health Sciences, it does not include a representative from the NCCFT or from the Academic Senate. This creates a serious departure from past practice. More than that, though, because every administrator needs to work with the Senate and Union leadership—in addition to working with the chairs in their area—not having union or senate representation fundamentally compromises the search committee’s ability to evaluate how well a candidate could work within NCC’s governance structures. This is unacceptable. We believe that any concerns the administration may have about search-committee membership can be resolved. However, it is the opinion of the leadership of the Chairs, Senate, and NCCFT that any search conducted without representation of all three bodies should be met with a Vote of No Confidence.
As we celebrate the NCCFT’s 50th anniversary, we are aware of the political and economic forces that threaten our existence. The most current is the JANUS case, which the US Supreme Court heard last month. Please read the posts on our website for a thorough analysis of this case. In anticipation of a negative decision by the US Supreme Court, the NCCFT has distributed union re-commitment cards to the NCCFT Department Representatives for your signatures. I recognize there are some clerical errors on the pre-populated cards. Your department reps were instructed to advise you to correct any errors on your card prior to submission. We are asking that you sign and return these cards to your department rep as soon as possible. We need to process them by April 13, 2018.
The Administration and the NCCFT have a draft hard copy of the current CBA. We have reviewed the contents and format of the document and are in the process of finalizing our edits. Once that process is complete, the contract will be sent to the printer and distributed to the membership.
Finally, because of the snow closures, our NCCFT General Meeting had to be cancelled. A lack of available time slots on the academic calendar, coupled with a lack of available rooms, makes it impossible to hold a make-up meeting during club hour. Therefore, upon the consent of the Executive Board, the NCCFT end-of-semester luncheon will be cancelled and in its place will be scheduled the NCCFT General meeting where lunch will be served. At that meeting, along with any other official business we need to conduct, we will distribute “Reflections on a Golden Anniversary, The NCCFT at NCC 1968-2018,” a history of our union written by Dr. Philip Y. Nicholson (NCCFT President, 1987-99).
Please share your responses to this blog post in the comments section below. If you’d like to discuss any aspect of this post directly with me or any other member of the Executive Committee, please do not hesitate to contact us at email@example.com.