What's Really Happening - 2004/12/02

 

 

What's Really Happening

Columbus State Education Association Newsletter of December 2, 2004  

MEDIATION REGARDING OFFICE HOURS

As a result of a mediation hearing October 25, three faculty members had personal leave hours restored.

A faculty member who requested an entire personal day for his five class hours asked to reschedule six office hours, but was denied.

Another faculty member was charged two hours of personal leave for missing a department meeting, which was scheduled outside the faculty person's normal posted work week.

A third faculty member wished to move three office hours so that she could observe Passover. The chairperson denied the request.

After a long day of work with a mediator, CSEA reached a settlement with the administration. All 3 faculty members had their forced personal leave time reinstated. As part of the settlement, the College and CSEA have agreed to the following office hour guidelines:

Scheduled Office Hours (7) - CSEA Contract Article 4.02 B

  1. The canceling of posted office hours is only permissible if initiated by the College, such as attending conferences and the College In-Service Day. Then no leave is required.
  2. Faculty who are absent from or miss scheduled office hours must inform the Chairperson and take appropriate leave. Faculty who are late for scheduled office hours may make up those missed hours provided the faculty member:
    • Calls in advance to the chairperson or secretary
    • Reschedules the office hours during that particular day
  3. No flexing of scheduled office hours unless agreed to with the Chairperson and the Faculty. The Faculty may request a change, one time per quarter until the expiration of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. Such requests shall not be unreasonably denied.
  4. Some changes to office hours may be necessary during finals week, but faculty continue to be responsible for their 7 scheduled office hours and 3 flexible hours. The contract does not differentiate for this week; therefore, 7 office hours are required during finals weeks.

Scheduled Department Meetings---Appendix J

  1. Faculty department meetings shall be scheduled at least two (2) weeks in advance as per Appendix J of the 2004-2005 Faculty Handbook.

FACULTY MEMBER BECOMES DEPARTMENT CHAIR

Dr. Karen Muir has left faculty ranks to take the position of chair of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Department. She replaces Dr. Jonnie Budke, who retired this summer.

She has served on Faculty Senate, in shared governance, and as a member of the committee on Intellectual Property and Distance Learning, as well as on countless other College task forces. Dr. Muir has agreed to serve as chair through next summer and has the option of continuing in that position if she chooses. CSEA has concluded an agreement with the College that protects Dr. Muir's faculty rank, tenure, and salary increases.

Dr. Muir has been a strong advocate for faculty, and we congratulate her on her new role, one in which flexibility and a keen sense of faculty's jobs and needs make all the difference.

THE SAGA OF DATAHELL CONTINUES

Just one day after publishing our last newsletter, another scathing article about Columbus State's Datatel debacle appeared in the Columbus Dispatch. A student who tried to register for Winter Quarter for two days without success was interviewed, and she complained that again the system is slow, confusing, and clunky. "Why can't the school streamline the process after six months of complaints?" she wondered.

The Board of Trustees and the college administration continue to make a bad decision worse by approving additional college funds to purchase more hardware in hopes that it will camouflage the obvious fact that the decision to implement the Datatel system was a mistake. The new system has cost the college over $10 million and performs at a level that even a novice user would declare unsatisfactory. The system is also frustrating and inefficiently slow. Processing Datatel transactions is like watching paint dry except for the fact that you can stop looking at the paint without being timed-out. And while it's true that upgrades implemented over last weekend have improved the speed of some internal-use functions, they come too late to have any meaningful impact on Winter Quarter registrations, which are down as much as 18% in some programs and departments.

The Board of Trustees was aware that the new system is inadequate over two years ago when it took months to convert to the new payroll system. Then again, in April 2003, when the student financial aid portion of the system could not be implemented, the administration could have cut its losses then. The same problem appeared in Spring 2004. But rather than admitting that they had made a mistake, the Board allowed the administration to "force implement" the student registration portion of the system by removing all of the old Legacy system's functions.

Then "volunteer" full-time employees and faculty members were diverted from their jobs and asked to help students manually edit input registration and financial aid data. To register for Summer Quarter, thousands of students were forced to physically come to campus and enroll for classes. In the past, students could handle this process by using the Internet. Even with this Herculean effort from both faculty and staff, and after it was determined that Summer 2004 enrollment was down 14% from Summer 2003, the administration, with Board approval, decided to continue to use this obviously inadequate system for Autumn Quarter 2004. The rest is history, and students, employees, and the college's reputation have suffered immensely.

The Board of Trustees continues to act as if nothing serious happened. If they don't believe that the College's well-earned reputation has suffered, they should talk to some students, or to some staff who handle phone calls, or read some of the emails that faculty and staff received over the past 6 months from students and their parents, none very pleased with the online registration snafus. At this time, the Board still believes it is better to continue with a bad decision than to admit the obvious: the new system is a huge mistake. There have been some hardware changes, and there's talk of software changes, but no one has been held responsible for the questionable decision-making of the past several years. Rather than admit an error and moving to correct it, the administration has created an atmosphere in which everyone is afraid to point out that . . .

THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES!

HUGE ENROLLMENT DECLINE

According to an October 21, 2004, news release from the Ohio Board of Regents, Columbus State Community College suffered, for the first time in a decade, an 11% decline in enrollment for Autumn 2004 when compared to Autumn 2003 enrollment numbers. Of course, this means that we suffered an accompanying 11% drop in tuition income. (See enrollment table below.) This drop in enrollment is in the face of growing enrollments at most other state community colleges and restrictive enrollment policies at OSU, from which Columbus State should have benefited.

Our Board of Trustees has refused to admit that they made a bad IT decision with the implementation of Datatel, against all warnings to do so. Then they decided in their wisdom that the solution to the problem was to spend an estimated $600,000 more for hardware to correct the "performance problems." Columbus State is spending millions to save face, but not one cent for any meaningful corrective action.

Faculty and staff have expressed concern both privately and publicly about the impact of Datatel's shortcomings on enrollment. With Summer and Autumn Quarter enrollments down, and enrollments for next quarter significantly lower than a year ago, more people are expressing concern that the administration's failure to address the technical problems will soon affect jobs, raises, and hiring. The refusal of the administration to candidly address the situation is eroding morale at a frightening rate.

Take a look at the Ohio's enrollment figures as reported by the Ohio Board of Regents:

Preliminary

Preliminary

Percent

  Fall 2004 Fall 2003 Of Change
  Headcount Headcount 2003 - 2004
Community Colleges      
Cincinnati State 8,472 7,722 9.7%
Clark State 3,499 3,309 5.7%
Cuyahoga 25,214 23,808 5.9%
Edison State 3,139 3,031 3.6%
Jefferson 1,678 1,583 6.0%
Lakeland 8,605 8,635 -0.3%
Lorain County 9,972 9,618 3.7%
Northwest State 3,194 3,348 -4.6%
Owens State 20,160 19,615 2.8%
Rio Grande 1,609 1,465 9.8%
Sinclair 23,241 23,588 -1.5%
Southern State 2,360 2,241 5.3%
Terra State 2,628 2,572 2.2%
Washington State 2,196 2,231 -1.6%
Columbus State 20,726 23,299 -11.0%
Total 136,693 136,065 0.5%

For Autumn Quarter 2004, we estimate our revenue loss conservatively at $2.5 million. Another $1.5 million from Summer Quarter, and another $2 million or so each quarter that we continue to see Datatel problems.

Let's do the math: Assuming that Columbus State would have grown by 2.8% as other colleges did if you factor out CSCC, we should have an enrollment of 23,960 students instead of 20,726, a net loss of 3,234 students. The average student takes 9.5 credit hours. This has remained steady for several years, and can be found in the CSCC "Information Manual" put out by the President's Office every November (see p. 8). This results in 30,723 lost credit hours for Autumn Quarter 2004. At $73 per credit hour, Columbus State has experienced $2,242,779 in lost student tuition. AND we've lost approximately another $2 million in state subsidies for each quarter! There is no other factor besides Datatel to account for these losses.

For the first time in recent history, Columbus State leads the other state community colleges in enrollment decline when our history has been to lead the state in enrollment increases, especially in the last few years as central Ohio's population has multiplied. Despite these clear performance issues, the Board rewarded college administrators with promotions and salary increases and gave the president salary and compensation increases that added more than 8% to her income. In fact, Columbus State's President, Provost, and Senior Vice President for Business are the highest paid community college administrators for their respective positions in the entire state system.

BUDGET CUTS-HOW THE OTHER HALF LIVES

The administration has informed department chairs that they need to reduce labor costs by at least $7 million because of its mismanagement of college resources. Does this figure sound familiar to you? Apparently, a large part of this bloodletting will come from the flesh of our hard-working adjuncts, already underpaid and under-appreciated. In addition, class size will also increase. Many small classes (which Columbus State is known for) are being canceled. So while administrators get raises and promotions, the cost of the Board of Trustees IT decisions is going to be paid on the backs of the faculty and students.

COLLEGE WILL CONTINUE TO ALLOW NON-GRADUATES TO PARTICIPATE IN GRADUATION CEREMONIES

Over the objections of faculty, the administration has decided to regularly allow students whose final grades have not been determined to participate in quarterly graduation exercises.

The College apparently allowed any student who had filed a Petition to Graduate to walk across the stage at the Summer Quarter graduation. Apparently unable to process the grades of potential graduates in a week, the College has opted to continue this quarter to allow all who assume they have met the requirements for graduation to receive the honor of a ceremony recognizing this "achievement." (Actual diplomas are sent out to students-or not-several weeks after the ceremony.)

CSEA representatives objected to the idea when it was presented to them in early November. Faculty present stated that to allow those who had not definitely passed their final exams to be publicly honored made a mockery of the achievement of other graduates who, in fact, had passed. They further noted that such a practice-regardless of what how many colleges engage in it-is the same kind of feel-good assessment that critics of education have denounced for years, and that it cheapens the honor that the graduation ceremony is designed to confer. This is especially true since, as part of the ceremony, the Provost states that those being recognized have completed all the requirements for graduation.

In response to an inquiry by CSEA, Provost Dr. Michael Snider stated, "[T]his practice of inviting all students that complete the "Petition to Graduate" to participate in the ceremony is a common practice.. [T]he faculty, chairs, deans and I have spent many graduation mornings working with issues concerning graduation. The September graduation went without stress to students."

Reducing stress about financial aid makes sense. Reducing stress about registration makes sense. But it's hardly reassuring to know that reducing student stress about grades has become part of our mission. When will educational principles, rather than technological efficiency, dictate the operation of the College?

NEW LIMITS ON FACULTY IN GOVERNANCE

Faculty who want to participate in governance may be out of luck, if a recent arbitrary change in attendance rules is allowed to stand.

President Moeller has dictated a new rule for attendance at meetings of the Governance Councils and their subcommittees. The new dictate was reported in the most recent minutes of the Instructional Support Council: "Faculty are not permitted to get substitutes for their classes to attend a SG Council or Committee meeting. If [they] cannot attend the meeting due to teaching, this will be counted as an unexcused absence." Previously, faculty were allowed to get substitutes to participate in this fundamental form of College decision making.

At the Instructional Council's most recent meeting, CSEA President and member Steve Abbott expressed concern that the rule change effectively disenfranchises faculty and creates obstacles to their participation in shared governance. In a separate letter to the chairs of the Councils, Abbott noted:

"The most recent minutes of the Instructional Support Council [state that] 'whoever is voted onto the council for future terms will have to adjust their schedule accordingly.' This works fine for managers and staff, who have considerable flexibility in their work schedules. Faculty, however, whose job is to directly fulfill the College's mission of education, do not have the same flexibility. They are required to be in specific places at specific times and can not go to a meeting at any point on any given day, nor can they re-schedule classes that are set for regular meeting times. It seems to be an unreasonable restriction to require that faculty teach only early morning or evening classes if they want to participate in governance. In creating a governance structure, the Governance Committee designed representation that gave faculty the most seats on the Instructional Council because of their central role in instruction. Fairness dictates that both Councils do everything possible to maintain the proportional representation developed through the extensive work that went into creating a governance structure.

"It appears that Council meetings are scheduled for the convenience of those whose schedules are the most flexible. Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems that a governance structure intended to be truly representative of the College's constituencies would exert greater effort to be truly inclusive of members whose schedules are limited by forces outside their control. To restrict participation in governance to those faculty who have control of their schedules for an entire academic year-a minority of faculty at best-limits both the opportunity to participate and the number of faculty who can participate. This seems to undermine the basic ideal of shared governance."

Despite these obstacles, faculty will raise the issue at future meetings of the Governance Councils.

STUDENT PARKING STICKERS

Apparently, Public Safety officers have been unable to issue Autumn Quarter Parking Stickers to students-guess why. Yep, something to do with Datatel. And because many students were not issued parking stickers, Public Safety has not been able enforce parking regulations. While we believe that the existing parking sticker problem could have been improved, we think it was better than it is now, which we can call Parking Hell!

OEA ACCESS OFFERS DISCOUNTS

The emails from OEA Access Update that periodically land in your email in-box are a gateway to a range of money-saving opportunities. When you get one, just hit the REPLY button in GroupWise, and then REPLY TO SENDER. The links to savings on everything to iPods to travel and lodging are worth checking out.

DID YOU KNOW.?

The first three-year CSEA contract expires on June 30, 2005. Negotiations for the second contract will begin Spring 2005. We appreciate all who responded to the CSEA Issues Survey. Your feedback is helping the Negotiating Team and the research committees to frame issues for discussion in negotiations. If you have additional ideas, let your CSEA representative know your wishes for the new contract and how determined you are to ensure that the contract reflects your just desires.

In the event that negotiations are not completed by June 30, the faculty will continue to work under the conditions and terms of the first contract until an agreement is reached. Should an impasse occur between the college and CSEA, faculty will not be able to immediately strike, but first must go through a process of mediation and/or fact finding. At the end of that process, then the faculty are free to strike. (During the last negotiations, the mediation and fact-finding processes took over three months to complete.)

Although the College has blundered itself into financial trouble, we expect negotiations to be successful. Still, any time contract talks are set to begin, it's a good idea to be setting aside a little extra money-just in case..

ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALK

Your Columbus State Education Association has bought a brick from the Columbus State Community College Alumni Association, and it has been installed on the "Walk of Fame" in the quad between Rhodes, Madison, and Aquinus Halls. The bricks reads, "CSEA Faculty Union 11-1-01". November 1, 2001, was the day faculty voted to be represented by CSEA. Proceeds from the sale of the bricks support scholarships for students.


What's Really Happening is produced by the Communications Committee of the Columbus State Education Association. We welcome your comments, news, and insights.

Steve Abbott, President / x5096
Karl Rieppel, Vice President / x2500
Amy Brubaker, Secretary and Association Representative / x5068
Greg Goodhart, Treasurer / x5431
Darrell Minor, Parliamentarian / x5310
Bill Mundy, Association Representative / x5176
Dr. Jane McDowell, Association Representative / x2656 
Dave Busch, Association Representative / x5079
Dr. Charlie Gallucci, Association Representative / x5499
Leslie Smith, Association Representative / x5302
Dr. Wendy McCullen-Vermillion, Association Representative / x2693
Lisa Schneider, Association Representative / x5124


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