By Charles Errico, NOVA Professor of History and Chairman of the Chancellor’s Faculty Advisory Committee
Now that the summer is upon us, it is a good time to review this past academic year’s activities of the Chancellor’s Faculty Advisory Committee (CFAC).
CFAC is the voice for the 2,300 full-time faculty members in the VCCS and consists of representatives from each of the twenty-three community colleges. It is proud of its respectful and collegial relationship with the Chancellor and his Cabinet that has allowed it to initiate a number of positive changes in policy. Meeting with the Chancellor and the System Office representatives each semester, CFAC operates as a team that brings about proactive recommendations that benefit not only the teaching faculty, but also strengthens the entire VCCS.
• Well before the Governor proposed parental leave for classified staff, CFAC recommended eight weeks of paid leave for both parents of newborns and those adopting and fostering children. The Chancellor was supportive as were the college presidents. The policy applies to teaching, professional, and administrative faculty. Enacting parental leave serves is an excellent recruitment tool as more baby boomers retire and younger faculty members replace them (see VCCS Faculty Policy Manual 188.8.131.52).
• While parental leave benefits younger faculty, our more senior colleagues can take advantage of an earlier CFAC proposal that allows them to reduce their workload in their last three years of teaching. This creates a slower off ramp to retirement for those faculty members who still wish to teach, but would prefer assignments to fewer courses to minimize their workload. It also benefits budget conscious colleges that save money through the use of less expensive adjuncts to teach those courses that are no longer the responsibility of the more highly paid senior faculty (see VCCS Faculty Policy Manual, 3.8.14).
• This past year, CFAC recommended a policy that would not require teaching faculty to inform their supervisors of part-time outside employment. Some part-time outside employment (book contracts, consulting in business/industry) enhances and adds knowledge/real world experience to the classroom. Other part-time jobs (waitressing, clerking) are sometimes necessary to pay bills and embarrassing to reveal to others. Faculty evaluations would reflect if these or any other factors negatively impacted on the individual’s ability to fulfill their contractual obligations. At the same time, CFAC felt that the primary obligation of faculty is to their students and other contractual responsibilities. Outside full-time employment compromises those duties and faculty must advise their supervisors with the expectation that such work will be normally prohibited.
• CFAC is attempting to clarify and develop system-wide consistency on a policy that better defines the faculty’s responsibility in withdrawing students between the census date and the 60% point in an academic session. It is a complicated issue that impacts attendance policies and financial aid. CFAC has recommended that a faculty member cannot take unilateral action to withdraw a student without their permission. At the same time, it is beneficial to advise students with sporadic attendance and/or failing grades of the advantages associated with withdrawal. It is then the student’s obligation to weigh the benefits of a “W” versus an “F” to their grade point average as well as their commitment to repay financial aid.
• CFAC has supported the nursing faculty’s petition that the clinical workload calculation should provide one workload credit for each hour of clinical instruction.
• CFAC continues to monitor the multiple measures policy for English and mathematics placement to ensure that student success in these important courses is not compromised. It also receives regular reports on the development of “passport” courses that will provide a guided pathway for students in their first year and that will ensure that those courses easily transfer as requirements to four-year universities.
• Close to a third of the VCCS colleges have initiated searches for new presidents over the past year. CFAC has appointed a representative to each of those selection committees to provide a faculty perspective on the determination of the final candidates.
• Falling enrollments have put some faculty jobs at risk. CFAC distributes news of open positions at each VCCS college for those faculty facing a reduction-in-force or who are simply looking for a change of scenery at another college.
• Twenty-first Century faculty members face new challenges and technology dictates that the way they teach their courses and communicate with their students has dramatically changed. CFAC has a subcommittee examining office hours and other age old academic policies and whether they still work as well as they did in the past.
• CFAC continues to monitor summer pay formulas across the VCCS. It encourages colleges, given budget restraints, to pay faculty for as many credit hours as possible at the same rate that they would receive during the academic year. This “equivalent” rate of pay is usually twice as high as adjunct or overload rates.
• This past April, CFAC continued its annual session at New Horizons where a panel of representatives reported on issues and received feedback on topics for future agendas.
The Chancellor’s Faculty Advisory Committee (CFAC) consists of elected representatives from each of Virginia’s 23 community colleges. Twice during the academic year, they meet in Richmond with the Chancellor and his administrative staff for a collegial and free-flowing discussion that addresses faculty concerns and issues related to student success.
Each member invites feedback from colleagues to more effectively represent the interests of the teaching faculty and better serve Virginia’s Community Colleges.
Here are the current college representatives on CFAC:
• Blue Ridge – Audrey Perselay
• Central Virginia – Cynthia Deutsch
• Danville – David Balfour
• Dabney Lancaster – Tondalaya VanLear
• Eastern Shore – Paul Weitzel
• Germanna – Mirela Fetea
• J. Sargeant Reynolds – Jason Sampson
• John Tyler – Steve Carlisle
• Lord Fairfax – Rachel Dodson
• Mountain Empire – Terri Lane
• New River – Amber Clark
• Northern Virginia – Charles Errico
• Patrick Henry – Michelle Zollars
• Paul D. Camp – Joseph DeStefano
• Piedmont Virginia – Kim Hoosier
• Rappahannock – Ruth Greene
• Southside Virginia – Tommy Wright
• Southwest Virginia – Brian Wright
• Tidewater – Stacey Deputy
• Thomas Nelson – Michelle Alexander
• Virginia Highlands – Winona Fleenor
• Virginia Western – Toni Pepin
• Wytheville – Susan Evans
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