The faculty, staff, and administration of MCCC took a step toward improved shared governance at an attendance-required meeting.
College employees met in the La-Z-Boy center on Tuesday, April 13. MCCC President Dr. David Nixon reviewed the campus constitution and described different options for enhancing employee participation in the governance process.
“The plan for the meeting was to view, with all of the men and women who work here at the college, the college constitution on shared governance,” President Nixon said.
Some of the options discussed at the meeting included further use of college committees, providing better notice of committee meetings, and encouraging more feedback and suggestions.
The need for improving shared governance arose from a visit last year by the Higher Learning Commission, which evaluated MCCC’s accreditation.
Though the campus did receive the 10-year accreditation renewal, the HLC recommended a return visit in three years on three specific issues; one was shared governance. The college is appealing the suggested three-year visit.
“One of the things that they said we needed to do was to maximize participation,” Nixon said. “In other words, how can we get more people to get involved in the committees, and how can we better communicate what those committees are doing?”
Mark Bergmooser, president of the Faculty Association, explained why the issue likely came up during the HLC visit.
“Oftentimes, some of the concerns that we have as faculty members are that decisions are being made without our input, and these are decisions that affect us,” he said. “And yes, you can only talk about something for so long until a decision has to be made; I understand that. But with that being said, there needs to be the discussion.”
Bergmooser said the college constitution specifically addresses the need for faculty input in decisions.
“It’s not ,‘we want to.’ We’re supposed to,” he said. “And when we don’t, that’s in violation of the constitution.”
Besides going over the constitution, Nixon also covered the responsibilities of each of the various college committees.
“If you hadn’t reviewed the constitution in a while, it gave you a chance to be privy to all of the different committees that are involved,” Bergmooser said.
Some faculty may have been frustrated that so much of the meeting covered the constitution and committees.
“We probably would have liked a little more discussion,” he said.
Several employees did offer their opinions.
Gail Odneal, professor of nursing, suggested that it would be more valuable to send information about committee meetings beforehand, rather than improving the minutes of the meetings afterwards.
“I don’t read the minutes after the fact, I’ll admit it, because it’s too much to read to try to get to the content,” she said. “But if I knew what the meeting was about and I had a vested interest in something, you can be sure I’d try to be there.”
She also suggested that making an improved agenda and sending it out ahead of time, “opens up communications so we are not supplied the content after the fact in minutes.”
Gerald Jean, a computer operator in Data Processing, was critical of college employees for not offering more suggestions.
“No one is saying anything,” he said, “But as soon as we walk out of that door, everyone will be talking.”
Despite the lack of discussion, Nixon said he felt the meeting was a success.
“I was really impressed with the good suggestions we had, and it motivates the committees because then they have opportunities to improve and things to work on,” he said.
In addition, Nixon said the goal is not only to improve shared governance, but for it to become a permanent part of the structure of MCCC.
“It’s not something you can just work on every few years when evaluators come. We have to keep working on it all the time,” he said.
Bergmooser said he remains undecided on whether the meeting will have the expected outcome, but hopes for the best.
“I think an attempt was made, but I don’t know how you could measure it, whether it was successful or not,” he said.
“I think we need more open and honest communication here, and you can tell from some of the comments that people had some pent-up emotion that needed to be expressed.
“People obviously have things that they want to talk about, that need to come out, so hopefully we have more opportunities to do something like this.”