Monthly Archives: March 2022Share
Thursday, March 31, 2022
A Message from Michael Robbins, President, Collegewide Faculty Association
As we leave March and enter into spring proper, I’m thinking a lot about renewal. I wanted to take a moment to recognize that we’ve gone through numerous transitions over the last year. The College has seen many changes: New leadership, refreshed models for governance, renewed organizational structures and transitions back to campus after having to completely rethink some of our practices for teaching.
I know this has been difficult for some faculty. Transitions, changes, revising, assessing: These practices uproot comforts that we’ve grown accustomed to. I too have felt this, from time-to-time. But assessment and change is a vital part of higher education. In my mind, it is the most vital part. There’s a need to evaluate and ask questions, to really consider if our previous practices were what’s best for the College, and if what we’re doing will improve the lives of our students and our community.
That’s why I’m excited for what’s coming. Our new practices are striving for equity. We’re looking for ways to bring more voices into the College, and really questioning if we’ve reached everyone we could reach in the past. This isn’t an indictment of our previous practices; change doesn’t mean previous practices weren’t successful. But change recognizes that previous practices weren’t perfect, and change recognizes a landscape that’s shifting and requires new ways of thinking.
I bring this up because I can often hear an edge of cynicism when speaking to some of my colleagues. I’m not talking about healthy skepticism or questioning authority … I always approve of healthy skepticism and questioning authority. Rather than seeing appropriate skepticism and questioning, I see blind speculation. Conspiratorial rumors. Unfounded concerns.
I don’t ask any of you to stop being appropriately skeptical or to stop questioning. I’m feeling optimistic, not foolish. But I’ll tell you the same thing I tell my students: Blind naysaying isn’t the same as being skeptical. Skepticism is only helpful with appropriate research, or when coupled with discourse. It requires a capacity for critical thinking, not just of ideas you find disquieting, but of your own ideas and reactions. It requires conversation.
If you have a concern, reach out to someone in the know. Contact me, or contact a leader at your campus in the Faculty Association. Contact a leader at the College. Find out if there are conversations happening on topics you’re concerned about. I try to respond to as many inquiries and messages as I can. If I miss a message you sent, please don’t hesitate to reach out and remind me that you had an inquiry. I may not have the exact response you want, but I can at least tell you more about the conversation or any existing plans the College has.
I wanted to end on a high note: We have faculty who have volunteered to continue the important conversations we’ve had over the last two years. In the next month, I’ll be sending you all our nominees for the next Faculty Association vice president (2022-2023), who will eventually serve as your Faculty Association president (2023-2024). Keep an eye on your email, and please remember to vote when you receive your ballot. And if you’re still concerned about what’s happening at the College, remember that change is guided by those who show up. Participate in conversations and discussions, and come ready to offer solutions.
If you have any questions, please contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.