The Winter Faculty Assembly meeting was held on Feb. 26th. Pam Chambers introduced Ned Young who led a discussion about the Faculty Issues Team (FITs). Ned reiterated the outcome of the faculty survey conducted during Fall, saying that the areas which faculty considered most in need of attention were overload, summer and base pay. Pam also introduced Cindy Beckett who led a discussion about the planned renovation of the LRC.
Senate considered possible changes related to supplemental retirement. Current Handbook policies (section 2.9.4) allow retirees to teach 15 payhours per year for three years at a rate of one-fourth their final base pay. The Handbook also allows them to teach 6 additional payhours per year at the overload pay rate. This 6-hour limitation has been removed as an STRS requirement, but is still part of the Sinclair Handbook. Senate’s Personnel Committee has made a preliminary recommendation that the 6-hour limit be removed and will report to Senate again during Spring Quarter.
Senate met twice during the quarter with Matt Simon, library consultant, and Alan Scherr, project architect, to provide input regarding plans for the renovation of Sinclair’s Learning Resources Center (LRC). During the discussions, Senators supported the goals of improving access, increasing LRC usage, and improving the environment. Some Senators also expressed concern that the changes to the LRC should be consistent with the goals of a Learning College and that any consolidation or reduction in student resources should not reduce the effectiveness of departmental labs and activities. Some Senators also suggested it may be appropriate to develop an evaluation plan that will assess the impacts of the renovations and associated changes.
Senate began a wide-ranging examination of policies regarding short-term and long-term leave, disability benefits and family medical leave. The discussion included possible establishment of a procedure by which Sinclair employees could donate some of their unused sick leave to employees with exceptional needs. Other issues discussed included a perception that leave policies may be interpreted differently in different departments and that 9-month faculty may have needs that are distinct from those of other Sinclair employees.
There was also discussion about the role of Faculty Senate in helping to shape polices such as this which generally apply to all full-time employees, not just to tenure-track faculty. Senate met as a whole in a very valuable discussion with Janet Jones and Lois Raches of Human Resources. The Senate’s Personnel Committee was charged with investigating practices at other institutions, and the Committee will report back during Spring Quarter. Ms Jones will also report back to Senate with additional information.
Senate discussed its role in reviewing proposed changes to the Faculty Handbook. Some changes may be very minor, while other changes can be extremely important to at least a limited number of faculty. It is important for Senate to coordinate effectively with the Academic Policies Committee and other groups which may propose Handbook changes. The Senate Vice President seems the appropriate person to oversee this process, and Senate will consider a Resolution to that effect early in Spring Quarter.
Senate had extensive discussion regarding ways to move forward in a timely and effective manner with the FITs process. Issues discussed included:
Senate gave considerable attention to the need for effective coordination and communication across the College. In addition to the items mentioned above, actions implemented during the Quarter included improvements to the Faculty Senate website, increased communication with officers of Staff Senate, discussion of possible new procedures for the election of officers, and plans for a second retreat with senior administrators.