BY TAYLOR ROBINSON
- President Rose Bellanca receives raise and extended contract
The board of trustees voted unanimously that President Rose Bellanca’s salary for the 2015-2016 academic year be set at $211,140, a $4,140 increase from the previous year. In addition, she has also been granted an extra week of paid vacation and an extended contract through June 30, 2018. Board Chair Richard Landau lead the discussion and stated the process included the self-evaluation of the president and her accomplishments. Trustee Dave DeVarti also offered his thoughts about the decision.
“I will be voting for this,” DeVarti said. “I felt that the president has been very forthcoming with many of my requests, personally, and I think we have communicated sufficiently some of what my personal concerns are and I’m satisfied with that.”
Since Bellanca was hired in 2011, Treasurer Pamela Horiszny has shown strong support.
“I think that she has provided an incredible vision and making sure people have the resources and the freedom to do the job,” Horiszny said. “It’s been a challenging time for the college so you’ve had almost twice as much work than you would normally have and I appreciate that.”
- Higher Learning Commission updates
Julie Morrison, Washtenaw Commuity College’s executive director of institutional effectiveness, planning and accreditation spoke to the board about the update from the Higher Learning Commission, received July 13. For the last couple of years, the WCCEA has voiced concerns about lack of communication between faculty and administration, high turnover rate and vacant leadership positions. However, the HLC’s response concluded that the issues are not a matter of being out of compliance for accreditation but they have requested an update about said issues in January 2016. The HLC will not visit the school until scheduled in 2019-2020 and according to their letter, “The Commission consider its review of this complaint closed at this time.”
- Pilot program for video recording board meetings begins September 21
The original recommendation for video recording was set for a trial run of three months with an evaluation of the program to follow.
“This is an issue I brought forward,” said trustee Dave DeVarti. “I think it’s really important, as I’ve said before, to increase the transparency of the board’s activities. It’s a modest proposal and it’s something I hope the board sees fit to go along with.”
Trustee Stephen Gill didn’t share the same enthusiasm.
“Personally, I don’t see a need for it,” Gill said. “If it truly is a three month pilot program, which to me means that we’re going to evaluate it and probably get some data and see what the impact of it is and think about it, I would like to see some language somewhere that specifies what we’ll do from after the program starts.”
However, board of trustee Treasurer Pamela Horiszny felt three months wasn’t a long enough period of time to collect enough data for accurate feedback. After discussing possible options, the board agreed that a six month pilot program will be in place from September to February, with an evaluation planned at the February meeting.
- Possible faculty policy changes from HLC?
According to Julie Morrison, Washtenaw’s executive director of institutional effectiveness, planning and accreditation, the policy changes for faculty is the biggest news right now with the HLC. Although guidelines haven’t officially been set by the Higher Learning Commission concerning the changes the faculty will face, the board should receive confirmation of the policy changes by the end of August. Morrison informed the board that the college is not alone in these policy changes which include the qualifications for faculty teaching general education courses.
The 1,000 other colleges the HLC oversees will also be affected. Tentatively, Sept. 1, 2017, is the date in which all faculty members must either have a master’s degree in the general education they are teaching or at least 18 credits in the area of study. No community college has received specific guidelines yet, but they are on their way. President Rose Bellanca spoke to the board and the meeting’s attendants ensuring that they will do whatever possible to meet the guidelines while also supporting the faculty.
“As a president, I want to make sure we’re keeping good faculty,” Bellanca said. “I’m really anxious to see what we can do and I offered that we work on this collaboratively. I’m very empathetic to faculty members right now that they think their jobs are in jeopardy.”
Bellanca also informed the attendees that they are not rushing into anything as was discussed in a meeting earlier that day.
“It’s best for us to wait until we get the actual response or guidelines from the Higher Learning Commission before we do anything,” Bellanca said. “I want to make sure that faculty members feel reassured that we are going to do everything we can collaboratively to help them through this process.”
- New 3+1 programs for the 2015-2016 academic year
The board of trustees approved seven more 3+1 articulation agreements with three universities. Through 3+1 programs, students are able to take three years of credits at WCC while working with a university in pursuing a bachelor’s degree and only attending the university for one year. This option allows students a cheaper educational route while still being able to receive a degree in their desired area of study.
Now available are three more agreements with Madonna University including an associate in math and science from WCC and a bachelor’s of science in forensic science from Madonna. Also, an associate in applied science in culinary and hospitality management from WCC and a bachelor’s of science in hospitality and tourism management from Madonna.
Lastly, an associate in arts in journalism from WCC and a bachelor’s of arts in journalism and public relations from Madonna. Three are also added from Eastern Michigan University including an associate in arts in liberal arts transfer from WCC and a bachelor’s of arts or bachelor of science with a major or minor in women’s and gender studies. An associate in arts in construction management from WCC and a bachelor’s of science in construction management from EMU is available. Thirdly, an agreement established with EMU is an associate of applied science in graphic design, photographic technology or web design and development from WCC and a bachelor’s of science in communication technology from EMU. Ferris State University is also offering an agreement including an associate in arts in business from WCC and a bachelor’s of science business administration from Ferris.