May 9, 2008

INFOLIST: Town Hall Tidbits

From the college's electronic mail server, Infolist:

Dr. Terry Calaway, JCCC president, opened his Town Hall meeting May 7 with a discussion on campus safety. He discussed the two instances of graffiti, recently found in restrooms, that threatened violence in May, noting that no specifics were given and no certain group was targeted. The Overland Park Police Department was consulted, and they noted that the situation is similar to a pattern occurring in the high schools, where students are looking for some time out of class. Dr. Calaway noted that while there is no reason to be anxious about the situation, there is every reason to be aware. He encouraged faculty and staff to keep eyes and ears open, and if they see anything out of the ordinary to let Public Safety know.

Dr. Wayne Brown, executive vice president, Administration, concurred, noting that there are at most five Public Safety officers working on any shift and encouraged people to report unusual situations on campus by calling extension 4111.

Dr. Calaway noted that it’s possible we’ll see a third occurrence of graffiti, probably before finals. Additional cameras will be placed in hallways and outside (not inside) restrooms in some buildings to help find out who is writing on walls.

Dr. Calaway then brought up the subject of the academic reorganization currently underway in the college’s Instructional branch. The new structure (see calls for eight academic deans. The search process is underway to fill three of these positions – Health and Wellness, Business, and Technology – by fall. Faculty will continue to be involved with the search process this summer through special contracts.

Conversation continues on the question of whether to have chairs or facilitators for academic departments. The history and sociology departments will pilot the concept of chairs next academic year. Compensation issues have been addressed with the career program facilitators as well.

Also to be considered is the concept of staff support for the academic positions and whether it is adequate.

Dr. Calaway is also looking at ways the credit and continuing education branches can work together more effectively and how those programs can be meshed together. Structural issues are also being addressed in the President’s, Information Services and the Administrative Services branches, and conversation continues on what to do with the advising role at the college. Innovative proposals have been proffered regarding the role of advisors in keeping students engaged.

In response to concerns about how long the reorganization process was taking, Dr. Calaway stressed the importance of conversation and inclusion, as faculty and other institutional leaders are part of the process and planning. From his perspective, this process was about getting college faculty and staff engaged so more people understand how the internal process works and are committed to its success. Most of the planning will be wrapped up in the next month, he said. To continue to build the infrastructure to support the work we’re doing, several new positions have been requested in the 2008-2009 budget.

Many questions from Town Hall attendees concerned support staff, who inquired first about the recent climate survey. Results of the recent college climate survey will be returned and released this summer. Staff also asked about the upcoming salary study, questioning why some positions had already been changed, while others were waiting for the salary study to be conducted. Others said they felt they were lumped together under “umbrella” titles that did not adequately reflect their jobs. Still others expressed uncertainty, not knowing whom they would be working for or what they would be doing. Dr. Calaway noted that he felt we needed to get the deans in place first to give an overarching structure to the Instructional branch and to get a full picture of what was needed for the area. In large branches, we could be looking at hundreds of different positions, and we need to see where those fit. The problem often is the volume of work expected of people, not their placement within the system.

Staff also asked about the Hay Group, the firm that will be conducting the study and who also conducted the last study 10 years ago. Many feel that the previous study looked only at titles and not at the individual positions.

Dr. Judy Korb, vice president, Human Resources and Organizational Development, assured people that the Hay Group will look at the content of each full-time job, analyzing the decisions made, the scope of the responsibilities, the impact on students, and the specific functions. While titles may need to become more descriptive, it is the functional aspects of the position, and not the title, that determines where positions are placed. Conversations with Hay will start this month. Changes recommended by the study are intended to be implemented in the upcoming fiscal year and not over five years, as a rumor has it. Rather, changes that can be made will be made within the next fiscal year. The college is committed to an honest, fair assessment and to implementing the resulting recommendations in 2008-2009. When the results are returned, supervisors will have the opportunity to review them to provide feedback.

Dr. Calaway lauded support staff for having the courage to speak up. Respect and trust, he said, needs to extend in all directions. The Town Hall meeting was an example of how we can make it work.

A question also arose about future campus expansion. Dr. Calaway said we need to have the staffing infrastructure in place before any expansion of facilities. The college has been approached by groups in Olathe, Lenexa and Mission about siting satellite campuses in those cities. Sometime in the next year we’ll need to make a decision about facilities. He also noted that in the coming budget year funds have been allotted to bringing other campus facilities up to the level of the Regnier Center.

A question also arose about the role and function of part-time staff and the status of part-time benefits. While part-time staff will not be part of the formal salary study, their positions can be reviewed, as can the question of moving part-time positions to full-time. Human Resources needs the results of the part-time benefits survey, which was to be provided by the part-time employees, with assistance from Institutional Research.
A posting to the Library listserv clarified the salary study's scope. Korb said the study does include part-time workers.
The question of representation for line staff was also raised. Many staff members are not represented by any organization like OP, and OPL is not representative of all hourly staff. The possibility of a Campus Senate could help more people feel represented. Allowing all groups to have a place to air their views will be the way we improve the institution, Dr. Calaway said.