October 20, 2017

AAUP Update: Testimony to County Council

Harry N. Zarin, President
American Association of University Professors
Montgomery College Chapter

Operating Budget Testimony
April 15, 2015

Members of the County Council:

My name is Harry Zarin.  I am a Professor and Counselor at the Germantown Campus of Montgomery College.  I am here today in my role as the President of the Montgomery College Chapter of the American Association of University Professors, AAUP.  I am here to ask that you fully support and fund the College’s proposed operating budget that includes funding for contractually negotiated raises for our faculty.

Twenty two years ago I came to MC after having worked at two different local universities in several different roles. At the time I had no idea that my job would place me in a position where I would play such an important role in the lives of our students. Faculty counselors at Montgomery College provide our students with a tremendous amount of direction and advice which helps prepare them to become better students, to graduate, and in many cases, to transfer on to 4-year universities and work on receiving their Bachelor’s degree.

We as a faculty have been given the privilege of helping to shape and change the lives of thousands of students and this is a privilege that we take very seriously.  We are a creative and accomplished faculty, a faculty who have earned advanced degrees, published papers, written books, and have designed new and innovative ways of teaching courses. We need to do this because every day we work with students with varying learning styles and difficulties.

Imagine being a computer science teacher and trying to keep up with changes in your field.  Imagine you are teaching in our nursing program and you have to keep up with the ever changing field of medicine or being a history teacher with a moving target as a subject you are required to teach.  Below are a few examples of some of the accomplishments of our faculty.

  • Professor Loir Kelman, Biotechnology, co-authored an article for the Annual Review of Genetics on Archaeal DNA replication.
  • Professor Nathan Zook, Political Science, took a delegation of students to represent Argentina at the National Model United Nations conference last November in Washington, D.C.
  • Professor Robert Giron, American English Language Program, is the Editor in Chief of the Sligo Journal. This compilation of works, mostly by MC students, won the 2015 Florida Book Festival award for Compilations and Anthologies.
  • Professor Roger Coleman, Music, is writing an e-book while on his sabbatical on music theory.  This book will be offered free to students as part of an Open Educational Resource program.
  • Professor Swift Dickinson, English, took a group of student and faculty to Cuba for a 10 day study abroad program and he has presented on Caribbean Literature at several international conferences on this topic.
  • For the eighth time in 11 years–and the sixth consecutive year– a Montgomery College professor has been named Maryland Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). Mary Furgol, a history professor, received the honor in 2003. In 2006, Joan Naake, an English professor, won the award. In 2009, the award went to Chemistry Professor Susan Bontems, followed by Dr. Deborah Stearns, a psychology professor; Music Professor Dawn Avery; Math Professor John Hamman and English Professor Dr. Greg Wahl, respectively.  Most recently KenYatta Rogers, a professor of theatre, received this award.  Since 2000, Rogers has taught classes at Montgomery College in voice and diction, movement for the performer and fundamentals of acting. As a professional actor, Rogers has garnered three Helen Hayes Award nominations for his stage performances. He has more than 50 film, television, radio and voice over credits including the National Endowment for the Arts’ The Big Read series and PBS’ Standard Deviants.

Our students are wonderful to work with and here are some relevant statistics.

  • Over 25,000 students were enrolled at Montgomery College this past semester. That’s more than many 4-year universities have at their institutions.
  • 535 high school students took a MC course this past fall.
  • 5,242 graduates or students who earned 12 or more credits transferred from MC last year to a four year institution.
  • 70% of all students who transferred from MC went on to attend a University System of Maryland institution.

Our students come from various backgrounds and over 100 countries.  They have seen or been in combat, have lived in communities that were ravaged by war, are the first in their families to attend college, are looking for a second chance, and are looking for an economical way to begin their college education.

Our students come with the potential for an enriched life, a life that will serve both self and community.  But their potential can flourish only within the context of opportunity, and it is within our classrooms and offices that these opportunities exist.

Students such as Joanna, came to Montgomery College several years ago with tremendous doubts about her ability to attend college much less actually graduate.  As a student with a severe vision problem she needed to learn how to learn in a college environment with technology that she had never touched.  Through the combined efforts of our Disability Support Services Offices, our creative faculty, and Joanna’s intense motivation to succeed, she earned an Associate’s of Applied Teaching degree in Elementary Education at Montgomery College and then transferred to Towson University’s Elementary Education program at the Universities at Shady Grove.  There Joanna continued her higher education journey and in May of 2014 she graduated with a 4.0 g.p.a., dually certified in elementary education and special education and she is now a 5th grade teacher in the Montgomery County Public School System.  Joanna was also given the honor of being selected as the graduation speaker for the entire Universities of Shady Grove at the May 2014 graduation ceremony.

A group of Montgomery College honors students attended the Northeast Regional Honors Council (NRHC) Conference in Gettysburg, Penn., April 9-11, which showcases the work of honors students from both two and four year colleges from Maine to Washington, D.C. Jonelle Bowen, Emily Christian, Shannon Freed, and Michael Kissiedu represented three of the college’s honors programs; General Honors, Renaissance Scholars, and Montgomery Scholars Program. Their presentation “Honors Student Researchers – Allies in the Campaign to Modernize the College Library” described and explained Montgomery College Libraries’ initiative to improve and modernize by using anthropology (visit http://libguides.montgomerycollege.edu/ethnographic?

Matthew came to Montgomery College after experiencing a difficult childhood and floundering academically.  He was mentored by several faculty members, was accepted into our Renaissance Scholars Program and began to flourish as a student.  He then attended and graduated with honors from St. Mary’s of Maryland as a history major.  He studied history while residing in Germany, applied to and was accepted to Middlebury College’s exclusive language program, and later studied Russian in Kiev, Ukraine. He was recently accepted to study history at Oxford University in England.

Montgomery College is the communities college and I hope the information I have given you will help to convince you to find a way to support the needs of the college as presented in the college’s proposed operating budget.

On behalf of the faculty I am asking for full funding of the requested budget in order to pay for contractually negotiated increases in salary for the faculty.  We did our fair share during the down turn in the economy by graciously accepting no increases in salary for several years and taking required furlough days.  We need you all to do your part to assist the college in delivering excellence inside and outside the classroom by funding compensation and the much needed student success programs proposed in its budget request.

On behalf of the faculty of Montgomery College I thank you for your time and continued support.

 

Comments

  1. Robert L Giron says:

    Harry, I heard you did a fantastic job and spoke while signing for the deaf!

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