4 things you missed… at the Feb. 25 board of trustees meeting

Statue in front of the Student CenterBY JENELLE FRANKLIN
Contributor

and TAYLOR ROBINSON
Editor

 

  1. David Fitzpatrick voices concerns about new HLC faculty requirements

David Fitzpatrick, WCC’s Education Association Union liaison, addressed reimbursement of continuing education for fulfilling Higher Learning Commission accreditation, and the effect it will have on the part-time faculty.

“We have department chairs, especially with our larger departments, that have dozens if not hundreds of part-timers, who are greatly concerned by what will happen if we lose them due to HLC guidelines,” Fitzpatrick said.

He does understand that WCC holds the accreditation in high regard, and does not seek to lose it.

“I am hopeful of a great outcome here,” Fitzpatrick said, “but I want to put a word in for the adjuncts and part- timers.”

According to the section “Limitations on the Application of HLC Requirements Related to Qualified Faculty” from the HLC qualified faculty guidelines PDF, “HLC fully expects that institutions will work with current faculty who are otherwise performing well to ensure that they meet HLC’s requirements, including its recently revised Assumed Practices.”

 

  1. Two public comments, one problem

Along with the approval to negotiate a campus safety and security contract with the local county sheriff’s office last meeting, came concern from two students to this one. Judy Bonnell-Wenzel, an emeritus student, shared with the board how much she loves the college, but is concerned to hear that college may be paying half a million dollars to have armed officers on campus.

“I absolutely don’t think that I would feel safe at all with a gun where I was going to school,” Bonnell-Wenzel said. As a trained social worker in mental health, Bonnell-Wenzel adds that she thinks there are other ways to go about this and urged the board to, “go very slow and look into everything.”

In agreement was Susan Edwards, a fellow WCC student. While she thinks this may generally be a response to the increase in violence in schools across the country, she doesn’t think more guns would have prevented those situations, or prevent a situation on WCC’s campus.

Expressing that it personally frightens her, she reiterated Bonnell-Wenzel’s plea to take on the issue slowly. She recommended taking a look into increased mental screening or referrals, because “that is where the problem lies.” The agenda did not include further addressing the topic, but the contract will be discussed at a later date.

 

  1. Negotiators for unions

The board of trustees approved the resolution to add four negotiators to its team to negotiate and bargain with the Washtenaw Community College A.F.S.C.M.E. Local 1921. This is the union chapter representing the custodial staff at WCC. The motion was granted to appoint Barbara Fillinger, director of Bud Pur Aux services; Michelle Benin, labor relations coordinator; and Todd Robinson, manager of building maintenance as negotiators; and Marla E. Stuck, director of employee and labor relations as chief negotiator. It was unanimously passed, with quick “Yes” votes around the table.

The board of trustees approved the resolution to assign five negotiators to its team to negotiate with the Washtenaw Community College Education Association affiliated with the MEA/NEA. The Michigan and national education associations were assigned negotiators for the wage reopener, and Trustee Dave DeVarti confirmed that this is to renegotiate the wages for faculty.

Michael Nealon, vice president for instruction; Valerie Greaves, dean of health sciences; Marla E. Stuck, director of employee and labor relations; Michelle Benin, labor relations coordinator as negotiators; and Doug Kruzel, vice president of human resources as chief negotiator. It was another unanimous approval by the trustees.

 

  1. New chief of staff for President Rose Bellanca

According to Bellanca, Monique James has been at WCC since 2008 and has been serving as “director of lifelong learning, director of community enrichment, director of community development,” and is now her new chief of staff.

This appointment is part of “the president’s initiative of diversity and inclusion,” one of the six initiatives at WCC, Bellanca said. The role James, who has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and communication and a master’s in social work, will be taking on has a larger responsibility list attached to the same title.

Her office will now be collaborating tasks with the Public Relations Department, working with people both inside and outside the college, and according to Bellanca, James can expect to work closely with Arnett Chisholm, dean of student diversity and inclusion.

This new appointment by Bellanca was well received around the table. Vice Chair Diana McKnight-Morton said of her first meeting with James, “She came around the table and shook all of our hands. That really impressed me.”

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