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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Migraine

I had a migraine--or at least a pretty bad headache--heading into the BOT meeting on Tuesday. The Board had moved their private, executive session to start earlier, so I hoped that, showing up at 7, I wasn't going to be too late. Hah. We didn't even see them until about 8:30, at which point, they did a brief public session in the back of the room, which we could hear but were not part of (it was still part of their executive agenda, not the actual public session); then they went to the front of the room; we had to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, the chair stated that there was a topic they had to consider in private, and they disappeared again. At about 9:45, they paraded back in--to the front of the room this time--and we stood for the Pledge again (I guess the first time didn't count or something), and then came the time when the Academic Senate Executive Committee (hereafter ASEC) got to address the three big issues on the docket: increase in class size, reduction of requirements for an associate's degree (despite the fact that we just struggled to reach SUNY's mandate for "seamless transfer" requirements and had to cut credits for that: now the Administration wants to cut math requirements even further), and the cut-off scores for exemption from placement testing.

The meeting went until well after 1 a.m.--and Paul, God love him, had to present last, so he was there until the bitter, and I do mean bitter, end. I left at about 10: my headache had risen to such epic proportions I wasn't sure I could see well enough to drive home (though once I was out of the room and in the air, it faded just enough that I could safely get to the diner, eat, and get home).

Ladies and gentlemen, to steal a phrase from G.I. Jane, it was a goat-fuck.

I do wish I'd been there to hear Paul do his thing, as I know he was clear, concise, intelligent, and prepared. I regret to say that one of the first presenters--on class size--was not, although short of getting used to being the target of a knife-throwing act, I'm not entirely sure what preparation would be adequate. The ground of the argument kept shifting, the facts were unclear--and representatives of the administration ... well, I don't want to accuse them of flat out lying, but let's just say that their representations of the facts were decidedly non-factual.

A favorite moment was when one member of the Board felt he needed to agree with the ASEC's position on something--briefly--and said it "pained" him to agree with "you people." He "jokingly" referred to us as "the enemy." He referred to the president of the ASEC as "Miss," rather ignoring the fact that her title is correctly "Doctor" (she holds a doctorate after all)--or at least "Professor." I now have to quote an e-mail from one of my colleagues, regarding this same particular "trustee" (I have to use the word extremely loosely): "This is the same person who told us last week that he doesn't want to set up NCC as a 'paragon' of colleges.  He just wants us to blend into the 'norm.'  In other words, aim low and seek mediocrity.  We will have to put that into our mission statement."

And that was as collegial as it got. The chair of the Board said "this is not a discussion"--when, in fact, the by-laws state that that is precisely what needs to occur. No: the ASEC was given 15 minutes to present their position, the administration was given time to offer a rebuttal, the Board was allowed to ask questions (read "throw brickbats")--and that was it. Moving along.

The upshot is that the Board upheld the college president's veto of the senate resolutions on class size and degree requirements, and the cut-off scores have been kicked back to the Developmental Ed committee for further work (as in, make our decision agree with what the administration wants).

All I can say is that the picture just ain't gonna be pretty for a good long while. I'm not sure what we can do--except continue to gather evidence that the Board is violating our bylaws left, right, and center, and make absolutely sure that Middle States (the association that gives us our accreditation) knows about it and puts us on probation. That's the big fear--and we narrowly averted being put on probation a while ago. I say that's not good enough: yank our accreditation entirely until the entire administration and board have been replaced with human beings.

Meanwhile....

I continue to work on reconfiguring the 101s. That headache, migraine, whatever, actually started on Monday and had gotten bad enough on Tuesday night that it held on all day yesterday and even a little into this morning, so I don't have a lot of intellectual capacity, but I have at least gotten a little work done. I'm now starting to feel some panic about the fact that I'm heading out of town very soon--end of next week--and I feel like all about me are things half-way started that I need to tie off in some way or they'll completely unravel while I'm gone and I'll have to start all over.

I know that isn't precisely true, but in order to alleviate a little of that stress, I am going to send an e-mail to the ASLE conference organizers so I can contact the other members of my panel, talk to them about how I want to run it--and take a look at my own proposal, see how much I have to prepare and how much I can wing it. And from there, we'll see. That may be it for the day. Because, well, you know, tomorrow is another day. Funny how that works.

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