The question of how many full-time instructors should be hired resurfaced at Monday’s Academic Senate meeting, drawing an exasperated apology from administrative leadership and exposing divisions within the faculty group.
Interim superintendent/president Robert Miller appeared before the Senate for the second consecutive meeting, repeatedly apologizing for previously estimating at a meeting of the Council on Academic and Professional Matters (CAPM) that the school would add between five and 10 full-time faculty positions by fall of 2015.
“[I offer] a personal apology, from this interim superintendent, for being a little too ‘full-disclosure’ at the CAPM meeting,” said Miller. “It was my mistake, I apologize, I hope we can all move on from here.”
Senate treasurer Manuel Perea brought up the issue by indicating that state projections of the full-time faculty obligation number (FFON) could be interpreted as requiring five to 10 new hires, speculating that the administration could have had the state figures and did not release them.
“The fact that [the state data] has a date of September 4, and we see how [five to 10 hires] could easily be reached by referencing it, we felt we need an answer,” said Perea.
“Was this report being used to calculate and perhaps lowball the new hires at a number under what could have been given to us?” Perea asked.
The Senate reported not receiving those figures until Oct 15.
Miller said that his initial estimate was not based on the state data, and that the implication that the administration withheld anything was unfounded.
“I did not see the September 4 document until the day after the [CAPM] meeting [on October 15],” said Miller.
Senate president Eduardo Cairó pressed Miller on the timeline of when the administration first received the state estimates.
“You got it on October 16, and who gave it to you?” asked Cairó.
“I don’t recall. This is not a conspiracy, folks,” responded Miller. “I really don’t know what we’re going for here.”
Miller acknowledged that there might be a lack of trust in him, but that the school nonetheless needs to move on from the issue.
Senator Mark Whitworth’s blunt assessment of the situation drew a rousing positive response from his colleagues.
“I’m not an administration apologist,” said Whitworth. “But the nitpicking is getting ridiculous.”
“He’s apologized, he said it was a mistake,” he continued. “Just frickin move on.”
The majority of the Senate responded to Whitworth with a round of applause, while others remained doubtful due to the administration’s recent history.
Senator Melissa Michelson cited the controversial era of former president Mark Rocha as a reason to be skeptical of real action, but ultimately she also expressed a desire to get past the schism over hiring numbers.
“I would love to move on, but it’s just really hard,” said Michelson. “We’re so close to our last president that it just seems like the same old [situation]. But yes, let’s take this into account and move on.”
Miller also updated the Senate on the administration’s latest hiring estimate.
“At the moment it would be a minimum of 20 new [full-time] faculty that would join our ranks in September 2015,” he said. “We will do our best to get more than that, taking into account everything else we need to.”
Cairó told the Senate that he recommends 53 new hires on that same timeline.
PCC’s projected 2015 FFON is 382, while it’s current full-time faculty population is at 358, according to the state data provided to the senate on Monday.
In 2013, PCC was over the FFON of 353 by 33, with 386 full-time faculty employees, according to the 2014 accreditation self-evaluation draft.
Following the meeting, Perea expressed that his satisfaction with Miller’s response hinged on what action the administration takes.
“Will we just look to the compliance number and say that we’re meeting the minimum and that’s all we have to do?” wondered Perea. “Or, will we ask what we need to do to provide what our students need?”