At Yavapai College in Arizona, a community college serving fifteen thousand students at six campuses, the college faculty association is also the AAUP chapter. About 85 percent of Yavapai’s hundred full-time faculty members are AAUP members, and the chapter has set a goal this year of recruiting more members from among the five hundred part-time faculty members employed by the institution. The president of the adjunct faculty organization has been invited to participate in all faculty association and senate meetings.
Here, chapter leaders answer a few questions about their chapter’s strategies, successes, and challenges.
What are your chapter’s proudest accomplishments?
Getting the chapter started during a turbulent time at Yavapai College, following two successive votes of no confidence in the college president. In the three years since our founding, we have made strides in a number of areas:
Coming to an understanding with the administration about shared governance, culminating in a statement. The faculty president is now a representative to the weekly meetings of the President’s Leadership Team, which discusses current issues, delegates responsibility to college leadership, and collaborates on any immediate concerns. The faculty president is treated as an equal representative and spokesperson for the faculty and academic issues and is involved in all committees that deal with budget and strategic planning.
Getting the administration to agree to work with us on a peer-review process and flexible workload policy were key accomplishments. We have developed a peer-review evaluation that is part of the criteria for continuing contract status (tenure). We have developed a scheduling and workload policy that allows for additional funding for larger classes and multiple preparations.
The creation of a document outlining standards for online teaching and a grievance policy.
What is your best strategy for recruiting new chapter members and leaders?
The chapter focuses on shared governance—if you want a voice in shared governance, you join the AAUP. This message is reiterated several times a year, and our high percentage of membership among full-time faculty shows tremendous support for shared governance at Yavapai College. For part-time faculty members, we offer much-reduced membership dues. When recruiting new faculty, we share the history of how we got started and the concerns that drove us, and we emphasize the higher level of professionalism that the AAUP offers. With the AAUP, we’re not so isolated and don’t have to figure things out on our own.
What are the biggest concerns of faculty at Yavapai right now?
Faculty are still feeling the effects of a previous college administration that ignored all the tenets of shared governance, so our biggest concern is whether the current administration will honor shared governance. So far, it has done pretty well. Another major concern has to be how much involvement we will have in downsizing at the college if that comes to pass. Establishing and maintaining minimum class sizes is also a concern.
What is the most divisive issue within the chapter?
Since we are a multicampus institution, there are academic issues that get handled differently at different campuses. This can create a sense of unfairness or imbalance among faculty from different campuses. We are working to make the policies and procedures that affect faculty more uniform and to increase communication among faculty to ensure that this is happening.
What are the biggest challenges facing higher education now?
Standards for online teaching. Budget issues. The lack of priority given to higher education for state and federal funding.
What has been the administration’s or the trustees’ worst idea in recent years?
The previous administration changed policy without the consent of faculty. For example, its “FTSE 5000” initiative placed individual responsibility on faculty and staff for increasing the college’s full-time-equivalent students by 5 percent each year. Most faculty considered it to be onerous and unrealistic to hold faculty directly accountable for increasing the college’s enrollment.
The current administration decided several years ago that it was very important to include faculty members at all levels of decision making at the college. This was a fundamental shift toward inclusiveness of faculty and a major step forward for the shared governance process at our college.
What advice would you pass on to other chapters?
Get involved. Seek professionalism. The AAUP is an outstanding resource for faculty to use; don’t reinvent the wheel. Be patient and persistent! It is very important for faculty to develop close working relationships with the administration and to make sure that faculty representatives are included at the highest levels of decision making concerning the college. It is of equal importance that there is a unified faculty voice on important issues; otherwise, the administration receives mixed messages and cannot seriously consider faculty input. Our status as an AAUP chapter representing such a large percentage of faculty members has really given us clout when we speak to our administration. Remember that faculty run your campuses, not just administrators!
What do you know now that you wish you’d known two years ago?
That we didn’t know it all two years look at the big picture. It would have been very helpful to have anticipated the extent of the current Arizona state budget crisis and to have been able to develop ideas that would help mitigate the effects of budget cuts on academic programs.
Information provided by David Gorman, 2008–09 chapter president, and Barb Davis, 2009–10 president. Would your chapter’s story make a good profile in Academe? Send an e-mail to Gwen Bradley.