February 22, 2008

COMMENTARY: BOT Play-by-Play

This edited summary of yesterday's Board of Trustee meeting combines the version posted on the college's electronic mail server, Infolist, the version by Faculty Association President Mike Martin posted to the FA listerv in green, and my sarcastic comments in red.

New Library

The board heard a presentation from the Clark Enersen Group about plans for the library of the 21st century. Possibilities include renovating the existing Billington Library, building a new library and renovating the existing building, or building an addition to the library and renovating the existing structure. The last option is the one Clark Enersen recommends, which keeps the project within the $35 million budget. The new structure would be to the southeast of the existing library. The project would include a bridge to the Regnier Center; space for offices and programs already housed within the library; space for programs that would be good partners for the library, such as the Writing Center and the Academic Achievement Center, among others; more classrooms; faculty offices; and perhaps underground parking. The board and the Facilities Committee will continue to discuss possibilities for the library.

As an employee of the library, I really don’t have much to say about this project other than we really do need a new facility, which will happen. The big question is ultimately what will students get? No one has really explained that to me -- or the campus.

While no actions were taken, open, informative discussions were had. I expressed to the Board that a contemporary library is central to the operation and mission of an academic institution. We support a new library and also acknowledge a shortage of classrooms and office space -- some of the four plans addressed this better than others.

When the faculty were asked (several years ago and under a different administration) to support a new art museum and the Regnier Center, it was pledged that at least 25 classrooms would be gained from the buildings and the vacated spaces. To date, we have a net gain of 18 classrooms (and that was up from the 11 or 12 that were first rolled out).

Based on their experience with the Nerman and Regnier buildings, the FA is right to worrying about a new library. Like them, I’m concerned the process of creating a student-friendly library will get bastardized into another opportunity to reward donors with useless named facilities. I’m concerned that administrators will claim this new prime real estate overlooking the Japanese Garden and Regnier Center. I’m mostly concerned that students will end up with yet another building created for them that they cannot use.

I expressed to the board that program growth and sustainability require additional classroom and office space. We, the faculty, are poised to do more with grants and collaborative initiatives, but that requires the space to grow (and not to displace current offerings). I tried to express to the Board that classrooms and office space are a high priority for the faculty. While the Board does serve as stewards for the community to the financial resources of the College, they also serve as stewards for the community to the intellectual resources/talent within it; by providing adequate classroom and office space for the College at a time when we are anticipating growth in student numbers and faculty initiatives, the Board can help to catalyze the intellectual growth and work-readiness of the community.

Students totally support creating more offices for faculty. We know -- as does the college -- that cramming multiple instructors into one office violates student privacy.

The external firm did involve two faculty members from the library, Carol Campbell and Judy Guzzy, but did not involve any other faculty; given that some of the four plans did involve regular classrooms and faculty offices, it seems prudent that other faculty would have been involved in these considerations. The report given was preliminary and there should be future opportunities for engagement as plans might proceed.

Armed Campus

Dr. Wayne Brown, executive vice president, administration, gave an update on safety matters. The deliberation on whether the current department of Public Safety should become a police force continues (yeah, sure it does). As an intermediate step, certified officers will be equipped with OC (pepper) spray and a baton. All officers will be outfitted with bulletproof vests. In addition, funds have been budgeted for two fully-equipped police vehicles in next year's budget (‘deliberation,’ huh?). Two vendors will be interviewed regarding a campus-wide emergency notification system. A web survey will be conducted to ask students, faculty and staff their opinion about having a police force on campus (which we already have with an armed officer from Overland Park) to help make justify the decision.

Seriously?

It was suggested in new business that the Pledge of Allegiance be said before each JCCC Board Meeting. Also, a desire to have a US flag and a copy of the US Constitution be placed in each classroom (preliminary costs were given for some of this) was expressed. It will be a topic for the Board at an upcoming retreat. A primary retreat consideration will be on potentially switching to a policy governance approach on behalf of the Board.

Governance

Trustees Don Weiss and Shirley Brown-VanArsdale, President Terry Calaway, and Vice President Dorothy Friedrich have been working on policy governance, which is a model for board oversight and decision making.

Anything project involving Dorothy Friedrich, a woman who violated college policy by covering up for Carlsen’s alleged harassment, makes me think it’s a bad idea.

Policy governance focuses on policy issues while leaving operational decisions to the president and administration. Weiss will present the framework for policy governance to the board over the next few months, and the subject will also be discussed at the board retreat April 19.

Other Actions
  • The board approved a new course in administration of justice and course fees for floriculture and horticulture courses.
  • The board approved clinical affiliates for the dental hygiene program.
  • They approved the proposal from SKC Smart Communications for the purchase of an audiovisual system for the Healthcare Simulation Center at a cost of $352,263.
  • They approved a three-year extension of the lease agreement at King's Cove in the following amounts: March 1, 2008-Feb. 28, 2009, $110,703; March 1, 2009-Feb. 28, 2010, $115,222; and March 1, 2010-Feb. 28, 2011, $119.740. The total square footage of lease space will increase from 8,357 to 9,037. Kings Cove is used for credit education classes for the practical nursing program and health occupations.
  • The board approved an international student exchange policy that promotes student participation in the study abroad program by providing for a tuition exchange for international students from designated international schools, programs or agencies. (I don’t know what that means.)
  • The board also approved the bids for purchasing a digital color production printing system, science lab supplies, audiovisual equipment, theater lighting, ceiling renovation in the Commons building, and carpet for the renovation projects in the Carlsen Center and the Billington Library.

Faculty Association

The board also met in executive session for 30 minutes to discuss the benefit package, which pertains to matters of non-elected personnel and to consult with the college attorney. The college has received a proposal from Blue Cross Blue Shield for an increase in benefits of 9.2 percent, which exceeds the 9 percent threshold for opening the contract with the Faculty Association. The board approved the 9.2 percent increase in benefits; members of the Faculty Association will vote on the contract before the end of the month.

I don’t know what this means, either.

When we first negotiated our multi-year contract (but with annual vote), it was not anticipated by the board or the bargaining unit that a health plan option would be removed as BCBS has done. This has resulted in additional, unforeseen costs and we all are now in positions to be responsive to them. Through the work of HR, the FA, and the benefits committee we have worked to retain our benefits package and philosophy. At last night's meeting, the board voted to cover the projected 9.2 percent increase in benefit costs and to keep with the practiced philosophy of full-family coverage and basic life insurance being contained within our allotted flex benefit credits. This is conditional upon a vote of the bargaining unit (to be conducted next week via email) and, if it is voted up, will be implemented for all JCCC faculty and staff. More will follow on this soon.

Okay, so this had to do with a health benefits, right? And now everyone should be cool with the outcome, yes?

Boring Stuff

The board also heard a report from the college's lobbyist in Topeka, Dick Carter. Carter talked about what has been happening in Topeka, including bills on energy, immigration, educational funding practices, and the state budget.

These faculty and staff members were recognized for their achievements:

  • Karen Gerety Folk, curator of education, Nerman Museum, had an essay published in an anthology on art museum education.
  • Robert Brandon, Postal Services associate, was commended for finding and returning more than $400 that was dropped in the hall. (I’d like to say that I’d do the same -- and I probably would. But still, that’s 400 bucks … man, that’s a lot of money. He had better have gotten a reward.)
  • Dr. Marilyn Rhinehart, vice president, Instruction, received the Administrator Award of Distinction from Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year schools.

Charles Rogers, director, Carlsen Center, listed performers who will appear in the Carlsen Center series in 2008-2009:

  • The Estonian National Symphony Orchestra (boring)
  • The Czech Symphony Orchestra (boring)
  • Savion Glover - Tap dancer (Hurray!)
  • Branford Marsalis - Musician (Cool, cool)
  • Ruben Studdard - American Idol winner (… interesting)
  • Garrison Keillor - humorist (Funny for old people)
  • Luna Negra Dance Theater (Hot Latin guys and girls? ¡Que Rico!)
  • National Acrobats of China (Is that like Cirque du Soliel?)
  • Zakir Hussain - folk drumming from Grammy-award (...uhmm, ok)
  • The Capitol Steps - political satire (Political satire in an election year? That’s just crazy!)

The next meeting of the JCCC board of trustees is at 5 p.m. March 27 in the Hugh W. Speer Board Room, 137 GEB. Board of trustee meetings are open to the public.

You can watch archived Board of Trustee meetings on JCCC’s video server.

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