Faculty Governance Update — September 2021

Thursday, September 30, 2021

A Message from Michael Robbins, President, Collegewide Faculty Association

Hello Valencia Faculty!

We’re about a third of the way through the semester, give or take. I think there’s value in remembering that we all still have time to grow, and your students are eager to continue to learn from you. If you have students who are struggling, remind them that they still have time to be able to improve, and that they aren’t doomed this early in the semester.

Don’t be shy about using other resources across the College, either! That might include tutoring services, or referrals to advising or referrals to counseling services. Remember that you’re not alone in educating your student; the whole of Valencia is available to help your students succeed.

I thought it would be helpful to give you all a brief rundown of our Thursday, September 9, 2021, Faculty Council meeting.

Committee Selections and Endorsements

One of the Faculty Council’s functions is to review current calls for service from different work teams, committees and projects across Valencia. In this meeting, we appointed members to the College Curriculum Committee, the Assessment Coordinating Committee and the Honors Implementation Team and appointed a co-chair for the Instructional Materials Committee. We also provided feedback and endorsement on planned definitions for assessment of Degree Pathways, as well as endorsement for an institution-wide setting for Canvas Attendance Tools.

Sounds exciting, I know. But I can assure you, these procedural decisions are a vital function for the Faculty Council. These committees are responsible for outcomes, assessment and materials presented to students, not to mention implementing new principles that will broaden participation in the Seneff Honors College. I appreciate everyone who volunteered to serve in these roles.

Discussions

We held two discussions:

  • Masking and Physical Distancing: We discussed a faculty petition for strengthening the requirements for masking and physical distancing guidelines. After in-depth discussion, the Faculty Council moved that while individual concerns are understood and respected, there is no further action that will be taken by the Faculty Council. I followed up this discussion with conversations with leadership at the College centered on contact tracing and plans for Spring 2022.*
  • Work Team for Retention of Continuing Contract by Administrators: We gave feedback to a proposal for a work team that will review the “current practice of tenured faculty moving from a continuing contract to an annual contract if they accept a position as an administrator” and “make recommendations for any changes to [Valencia’s] current practice.” Recommended changes were sent to leadership at the College.

Why It Matters to Have These Discussions

These discussions are vital, and faculty voice is needed in these discussions. I understand the outcomes may not be precisely what everyone wants; I wish there were a way to please every person under every circumstance.

Discourse won’t always turn out exactly as every person wants, but that’s not the ultimate goal of discourse. I teach my students that argument is not a matter of winning or losing, but rather a matter of coming to understanding. Jim Corder, a rhetorician I admire deeply, described argument as “emergence toward the other,” and noted that it requires an “untiring stretch toward the other, a reach toward enfolding the other.” That’s precisely why I value these discussions; not to get the outcome we want, but to try to understand each other.

I look around and sometimes I think we forget that those we disagree with, even at Valencia, are not enemies or active agents to fight against, but are fellow educators, seeking the best ways to ensure we can improve our communities. I hope that faculty can remember that as we continue to address sometimes contentious concerns.

I encourage you all to continue to reach out to me, as needed, so we can come to what Corder calls a “commodious universe;” reach out to me, even to continue to disagree with decisions we’ve made. My e-mail is mrobbins9@valenciacollege.edu.

… I’m not adding a references page here … I’m nerdy, but there are limits. If y’all want the citation for Corder, email me.

*In the original messaging, I misspoke regarding the motion made in Faculty Council. While individual council members noted current guidelines are working, that was not a driving factor for the decision for Faculty Council to not pursue this matter further.

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