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You Have to Let the Process Run Its Course: Our Thoughts on Policy Documents 1200 & 1300

On September 30, as he said he would at the most recent meeting of the Academic Senate, President Keen sent an email to the entire campus, making available to us two important draft documents the Board of Trustees has been working on:

In his email, Dr. Keen noted the Board’s intention to adopt these policies at its meeting on October 18th (about which, more below) and that he has distributed and been in discussion about these documents with various entities on campus, including the Middle States Response Team Subcommittee on Institutional Leadership and Governance, the Academic Senate Executive Committee and four representatives of the elected faculty leadership: NCCFT President Frank Frisenda, Academic Senate Chair Evelyn Deluty, Chair of Chairs Lynn Mazzola, and AFA President Stefan Krompier. Together with sharing the draft documents across the entire campus, these discussions have been consistent with the commitment to respectful and inclusive consultation we’ve previously noted in Dr. Keen’s approach to the issues confronting our campus—a welcome change we should all be thankful for.

If you haven’t yet read Policy 1200 and Policy 1300, we urge you to do so. They raise serious concerns about the role the Board of Trustees will play on this campus moving forward—relative to our contract, to how shared governance operates on our campus, and to NYS Education Law. The AAUP has articulated some of these concerns in its most recent post and some of you have begun to share your comments on the campus email system as well. We want you to know that we share your sense of urgency, but we also want to caution against drawing too-quick conclusions based on documents that are clearly labeled draft and are still under discussion. Because we are sitting at the table where that discussion is taking place, we will not discuss specific details of the documents here, but there are some thoughts we would like to share with you nonetheless.

First, as President Keen noted in his email, and as Interim AVP Collins pointed out at a meeting we had with her and Dr. Keen on September 29th, the Board has drawn up policy documents 1200 and 1300 in response to Middle States’ requirements, stated under Standards 4 and 5 (Leadership and Governance & Administration, respectively) of their report. These requirements charge our entire institution with:

  1. “complet[ing] a formal review of the roles and responsibilities and authority of all constituencies and staff of the college [in relation to] policy creation/revision, policy final approval and policy implementation” (Standard 5), and
  2. “creat[ing] a system of shared governance in which each major constituency carries out its role in a complementary manner consistent with the principles of shared governance and New York State Regulations” (Standard 4).

These requirements essentially mandate the creation of documents like Policy 1200 and Policy 1300, which, as Dr. Keen points out in his email, collect and update policies and procedures that have been in existence for some time. In other words, not only would the Board have been remiss in its Middle States responsibilities if it did not create the documents in the first place, but we would be remiss as an institution if we did not have the conversation those documents have started. In either case, we would have had a hard time persuading Middle States that we’d taken their requirements seriously and that they should therefore remove our probationary status.

Second, at the September 29th meeting we mentioned above, President Keen expressed his commitment that the policy documents under discussion will not, in their final form, violate our contract. While the distance between that commitment and the documents’ final form still needs to be navigated, we left the meeting reassured that our concerns are being be taken seriously. Dr. Keen provided additional evidence of this when he told us he would ask the Board to delay voting on these policies to a meeting after October 18th and then scheduled three additional meetings with the elected faculty leadership specifically to discuss our concerns.

We recognize that it can be frustrating not to know the details of what’s going on in a situation like this, so we want to reassure you that we—along with the rest of the elected faculty leadership—have combed through these policy documents very carefully and that we stand ready to take whatever measures are necessary to protect the integrity of both our contract and our system of shared governance. So far, we seem to have found honest brokers in Drs. Keen and Collins. The most responsible measure to take right now, therefore, is to allow the discussion we are having to run its course.

If you have thoughts about this you’d like to share, please submit a comment below. While members of the executive committee do not respond on the blog, we do read all comments. If there is something you would like to communicate to us directly, please do so at nccft@ncc.edu. Meanwhile, stay tuned. We will post any updates here. If they become necessary, calls to action will be posted here and on Twitter.

5 Responses

  1. Thank you for shedding more light on this subject. While I can understand the concern with the documents; it is good to hear that there continues to be discussion, The conversation on line, while valuable to allow expression of opinion, may be early in its final review since again – the documents are still in draft form.

  2. According to President Keen’s letter to the faculty
    “…the documents are considered to be in draft form, as they have not been approved by the full Board, and Trustees are considering some possible minor revisions.”
    “Minor revisions” is not a reassuring term given the scope and breadth of the draft documents. If the documents were still in their early stages of development then they would not have been made public. The only conclusion that I can draw is that the BOT is planning to perhaps tweak the wording of these documents but the overall substance of them will remain intact.
    I respectfully disagree that we need to allow the process to run its course. Once these documents are formally made into policy there will be very little recourse for the faculty.

  3. Could you please provide the date and time Dr. Keen made the folllowing statement? I am trying to keep my timeline and flow chart accurate.
    “Dr. Keen provided additional evidence of this when he told us he would ask the Board to delay voting on these policies to a meeting after October 18th and then scheduled three additional meetings with the elected faculty leadership specifically to discuss our concerns.”
    Thanks
    Frank

    1. Frank,

      Dr. Keen said he would ask the Board to delay voting on the documents at the Senate meeting last Tuesday, 9/27. He scheduled the additional meetings with the leadership prior to that, though we cannot give you a specific date.

  4. I believe that Dr. Keen’s email of today addresses the immediate concern (a valid one) that the BoT will vote on the documents and we will never get out from under them. I applaud his action in getting the Board to stop this rush to bad judgment. Dr. Keen’s plan to hold full scale discussion meetings over the next several weeks is the first step in recognizing the faculty and administration as important, professional constituencies. Now we have to turn out in force to take a meaningful part in this difficult conversations about the essence of our shared governance system at NCC.

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