A ‘revolution’ of faculty turnover coming

MCCC will face rapid turnover within the next few years.

The college is at the cusp of change. In the next few years, officials say there will be multiple faculty retiring.

“It might be a revolution,” said Paul Hedeen, dean of Humanities/Social Sciences Division.

Mark Bergmooser, assistant professor of Speech/Journalism/Tae Kwon Do, said Tim Dillion, Bill McCluskey, Terry Telfer, and Cheryl Johnston have all mentioned retiring next year.

A concern for some faculty is the college's history of delaying the replacements of faculty members who retire.

Patrick Nedry, professor of Business, thinks faculty retiring is a normal aspect of any college.

“The bigger issue is the delay in replacing the positions,” said Nedry. “We seem to be gripped by indecision.”

Some positions have been repurposed, but others have been vacant for years.

Nedry said there is a position in Humanities that has been open for three years.

He also said the college saves well over $100,000 when it does not replace a long-time faculty member who is high on the salary schedule.

According to Nedry, the delay has a positive financial consequence, but it lets programs, divisions, courses, and students languish.

“No decision is in fact a decision,” he said.

Hedeen said it takes months to replace faculty.

Retirement is announced in a formal letter to President Kojo Quartey. The dean writes a position request that justifies the position, and Grace Yackee, the Vice President of Instruction, refines the request.

The position request is forwarded to the cabinet, who approves and posts the position. Finally, the division puts together a search committee and hires a replacement.

Hedeen wonders whether or not he can do quick searches and still be thorough.

Faculty said the college loses history when seasoned faculty leave.

Bergmooser said some of the faculty have been here nearly since the college’s inception.

Gary Wilson, a retired art professor, taught at the college for 45 of the 52 years the college has existed.

“What I hope is that the foundation has been passed down,” Bergmooser said. “If you lose sight of what we are, that can be a dangerous thing.”

Roger Spalding, professor of Physics & Astronomy, said people do not remember what the campus was like 37 years ago, as he does.

“Sometimes I think people lose track of the history and what we have developed, but they have replaced it with quality instruction and professionalism,” Spaulding said. “It’s just sometimes we don’t have a college memory like we used to have.”

Hedeen said new faculty lack institutional experience, but not subject matter expertise.

Every institution has a different academic culture. It takes two or three years before new faculty are up to speed, Hedeen said.

Yackee said finding highly qualified faculty is always on the college’s mind.

“It is no secret that MCCC faculty (full and part time) are highly regarded by students and the community at large, including four year colleges and universities," she said.

"Replacing seasoned faculty requires diligent review of applicant credentials and their commitment to the community college philosophy, particularly the emphasis on access to higher education."

Hedeen said everyone likes to think they are irreplaceable, but there are other people who will do a good job.

“If you find the best people, you have a good college. It’s that simple,” Hedeen said.

“I’m hoping the new faculty who come in after these legends leave will come here and try to make a difference, try to insure student success, and leave this place better than they found it,” Quartey said.

Bergmooser said he has noticed passion and energy from the new faculty members across the divisions.

Spalding said turnover makes the faculty stronger because people have different history and experiences.

“I think the curriculum is probably going to improve overtime because we are bringing in new views and insights and perspectives," he said.

"I think that is an improvement."