August 21, 2008

NEWS: Townhall Fall '08

Posted today on Johnson County Community College's electronic mail server, Infolist:
Dr. Terry Calaway, JCCC president, opened his first Town Hall meeting of the new academic year on Aug. 20 by welcoming faculty back to campus.

Reorganization.
The first question came via e-mail, asking why people had to follow procedures to hire part-time employees when vice presidents could be appointed. Dr. Calaway noted that last year one vice president was appointed, but two were promoted to that position because of increased responsibilities. Dr. Judy Korb, vice president, human resources, also responded, noting that the positions themselves were not new; instead, new titles had been given to existing positions. New positions require new monies. Twenty-eight new positions were approved in the 2008-2009 budget. Without such funding, new positions can’t be added. In the past, a solution was to create temporary positions, which do not require board approval. However, some of those temporary positions have turned into long-term solutions and need to be revisited.

Dr. Calaway noted that an announcement about the further reorganization of the college’s structure would be made next Wednesday. The announcement will confirm that we’re moving toward a structure with eight deans so that cross-functional committees will know how to ensure all areas are represented.

Regarding timelines, the search process is well underway for the dean of technology, and the search for the dean of business is coming up. Dr. Calaway had an agreement with the faculty not to do more than that over the summer while faculty were gone. The task force meetings on academic reorganization will resume in early September, and the next series of changes will be discussed.

Salary study.
As of now, 497 job descriptions have been sent to the Hay Group for review. Another 100 descriptions need to be completed and sent. We should have feedback before the beginning of October. Hay will also look at the salary structure and compare the college’s positions and salaries with similar colleges.

Facilities.
Dr. Calaway noted the board is committed to building a new library. This year architects will be working to come up with a design. The college doesn’t want to do “value engineering” and scale back the building – we want to do it right, he said. The ballpark estimate for the new library is $70 million. Costs are likely to come down; if they don’t, that would mean we’d need to plan another capital campaign. The new library will not be a stand-alone building. No matter its size, it will be connected to a current structure so that the college can take advantage of state funding. He’d also like the architects to look at ways to incorporate the fine arts program into the library so that art students and faculty are closer to the museum. Technology programs would then expand into a renovated and repaired ATB.

In response to question about a sign or a marquee on the corner, Dr. Calaway noted that his preference would be to clean up classrooms first before spending dollars on a sign, but he would look into whether zoning restrictions would allow us to place something on the corner to announce events and classes.

Benefits.
There have been problems with the contractors covering health service at the campus health clinic. These are being addressed now, although it’s possible the college will seek a new contractor for these services. Benefit coverage for domestic partners will be discussed as part of the negotiations that take place with the Faculty Association this year.

Maintenance.
People brought up how resources should be allocated to maintain buildings at the level of the Regnier Center. In addition to the public spaces and restrooms, it’s important to get all campus classrooms up to that level with new furniture, carpet and paint. If people see problems, they should report them to Campus Services. A message with more details regarding how this can be done will be sent on infolist shortly; Dr. Calaway will also walk around campus to see how buildings are maintained.

Student engagement.
In response to a question about whether sufficient teaching faculty were involved in the new learner engagement process, Dr. Calaway noted that research shows that the quicker learner engagement happens, the better for students. This requires a holistic approach across the entire institution. In response to a question that staff in Student Services felt disengaged from the process, Dr. Calaway noted that one of the most difficult parts of change is communication and vowed to work harder to that end.

As to whether the creation of a separate division for counseling is a permanent move, it’s impossible to say, Dr. Calaway noted. A group will be heading to Texas to meet with CCSSE (Community College Survey of Student Engagement) to talk about student development. We can’t yet say what will happen until we look at ways to develop the idea of learner engagement, which will include the organizational structure that best incorporates engagement into the institution.

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