The Board of Trustees declined to attend an Academic Senate-run Town Hall in a letter sent out to the entire campus, arguing that the meeting is redundant.
The Academic Senate Ad Hoc Committee for Town Halls, headed by senators Melissa Michelson, Yolanda McKay, David Cuatt, Kristin Pilon and Martha House, invited the board earlier this year to attend its Town Hall in April.
Michelson sent out an invitation to both the board and Rocha on Feb. 26 with an intention to have an open dialogue among college constituents.
“In a collegial effort to address this need, the Academic Senate invites you to participate as panelists,” the letter reads. “The theme is ‘campus climate.’… The aim of the event is to facilitate discussion of ideas and effective communication among our institution’s constituencies.”
A response written by board president Anthony Fellow stated that the board’s bi-weekly public meetings sufficed as town halls and that president Mark Rocha was the appropriate person to invite to the upcoming town hall.
“Board bylaws governing the roles of the board and the superintendent-president assign all matters of shared governance and college operations to the superintendent-president,” the letter reads. “Dr. Rocha has conducted a series of well attended school town hall meetings.”
Michelson was upset yet not shocked that the board declined its invitation.
“I’m not surprised that the board members were unwilling to participate,” she said. “They didn’t participate in the Oct. 13 [town hall] either.”
McKay said that the board needed to be open to having more discussion outside of board meetings.
“I’m not putting down the board, but we need more time to discuss specific issues that the faculty and staff have defined [at board meetings],” she said.
The board also chastised senate members for conducting their own campus climate survey, calling it “duplicative and outside of any consultation or involvement of the Institutional Planning and Research Office.” The board letter also told Michelson to “work within the existing system and process.”
Michelson explained that the senate campus climate survey was not duplicative, as it had questions from the college’s own campus climate survey, which was conducted in 2010 and independent from Modern Think, along with questions regarding major discussion topics from last fall.
McKay defended the survey, stating it was the Academic Senate’s right to be able to conduct surveys of its own.
“The senate has a right to do surveys,” she said. “All we are trying to do is resolve issues.”
The information gathered from the survey will be used as topics of discussion for the upcoming town hall, according to Michelson.
~ Note to readers: this story has been updated since its original posting.