October 27, 2021

AAUP Update-RTCAT Responses and the Summer Professional Development Institute

Colleagues: 

After we held our full-time faculty meeting on July 21 the Executive Committee forwarded nine questions to the RTCAT Committee.  Below are the answers the Executive Committee received from the RTCAT to our questions.   If you were unable to attend the meeting and you would like to listen/watch the meeting, go to mcaaup.org, click on the July 14 update, scroll to the bottom of the page, and you will see a link to the recording of the meeting and the appropriate password. 

On behalf of the Chapter, I would like to extend our thanks to the members of the RTCAT who attended our July 21 meeting and to the entire team for providing us with a very timely response to our questions.

Faculty Questions Submitted to RTCAT with Responses

  1. Can we dismiss students who show signs of symptoms during class? What if the student refuses to leave the classroom?
    • Faculty who observes a student with clearly observable signs of illness that are uncharacteristic for that student or may be negatively impacting that student’s or other students’ performance should discretely speak with the student and advise the student to go home if they are ill. Remember to maintain confidentiality when speaking with others about a student’s health.\
    • Students who refuse to leave the classroom and appear to pose a disruption to class or a risk to the health and safety of other students should be reported through the appropriate channels for a possible Student Code of Conduct violation. If the student poses an immediate risk to the health and safety of others, please contact Public Safety.
    • The best guidance/advice to both students and employees is to stay home if you are sick and contact your primary care physician.
    • Everyone is required to take the Daily Health Assessment – anyone with visibly observable signs of the symptoms listed should stay home. Students should contact their instructor about any missed work, and instructors should be flexible regarding excused absences including providing students the ability to make-up missed work due to illness.
    • It is recommended that instructors link to the on-campus orientation training for students via their course Blackboard page to increase awareness and empower students to self-monitor their health.
    • Please keep in mind that a cough, sneezing, or other minor symptoms are not automatically indicators of Covid-19. A student could have allergies or another chronic condition.
    • There are existing guidelines from last year that are still valid and useful for these situations.
  2. Can a faculty member dismiss class if, during class, it is discovered that someone in the classroom has tested positive for Covid?
    • Should a student notify a faculty member, or an instructor become aware that a student in class has tested positive for Covid, the instructor should discretely have a conversation with the student. If confirmed, the instructor should announce that there has been a possible infection, dismiss class, immediately notify Public Safety, and use the course Blackboard site to announce any next steps or contingency plans.
    • The first priority is to maintain classroom safety.
    • There are existing guidelines from last year that are still valid for these situations.
    • Remember to always maintain confidentiality and not identify the individual who may have tested positive.
    • There may be cases where a student mentions they were with someone who tested positive. Do not panic. This does not automatically mean that student has been exposed. A general reminder to all students to take the Daily Health Assessment, monitor themselves for symptoms, and contact their health care provider if they have any concerns.
  3. Can faculty put up plexiglass in their office when meeting with students?
    • The RTCAT does not recommend that individual faculty install plexiglass themselves as it could pose a safety risk.
    • The use of plexiglass as a safety precaution will depend on the situation.
    • The use of plexiglass in a smaller, enclosed space may limit ventilation and air circulation.
    • The best defense is still wearing a mask. Faculty who chooses to do so may request and wear a face shield via their campus facilities office.
    • The RTCAT encourages faculty to use larger, more open spaces to meet with students should they feel uncomfortable.
  4. Are there any FT faculty members or members of the AAUP on the Return to Campus Advisory Team?
    • Since the AAUP is a bargaining unit, it is not a good Labor Relations practice to specifically include unions at this level of discussion.
    • Since the RTCAT was meeting and working regularly over the summer, there was no ESH budgeted and no expectation that faculty would be expected to work over the summer.
    • There are multiple avenues for faculty involvement, especially as we get closer to the start of the semester and the resumption of governance activities.
    • Faculty are welcome and invited to submit questions and topics for discussion to the RTCAT, invite members of the RTCAT to attend meetings, and form committees with RTCAT representatives, if so desired, to assist in creating and vetting classroom guidelines.
  5. Will MC require vaccinations at some point?
    • Yes, MC will require vaccinations once the FDA has given full approval. Currently, there is only one appellate court case that has upheld a vaccine mandate at an institution of higher education.
    • Upon FDA approval, students and employees will have 60 days from the date of approval to get vaccinated to be on campus.
    • Discussions are currently underway on how the College will monitor and track vaccination status, possibly using a third-party vendor.
    • It is anticipated that vaccinations will be required in the spring, pending FDA approval.
    • We are also monitoring actions at the county level, including negotiations with county collective bargaining units on mandatory vaccines.
  6. What should we do to maintain social distance in the classroom? What do we do if the classroom does not allow us to maintain an appropriate 6 feet of distance in the classroom?
    • Currently, the College has suspended social distancing guidelines pursuant to county, state, and CDC guidelines.
    • The current best protection against the spread of Covid are vaccinations and masks. The College has reinstituted its mask mandate effective August 2. Each campus has an allotment of 5,000 cloth masks that will be distributed and available in classroom scheduled for use this fall.
    • Most in-person classes were scheduled this past spring with a cap of 12-14 students.
    • In situations where social distancing is not possible, masks and sanitizing are still effective protections. Students and instructors should avoid, when possible, congregating in large groups.
  7. What sorts of signage will be provided to promote public safety?
    • There will be a large array of signage in all buildings on all campuses reminding people to wear a mask, get vaccinated, and follow basic hygiene protocols.
    • The focus is primarily on county metrics, since most of our students are in-county residents; however, we do consider proximity to other jurisdictions and that data in making decisions. Please note that our decision-making authority is somewhat limited by what is happening in the county and any restrictions or flexibility that the county may put into place.
    • The College and the RTCAT examine county and regional metrics daily for changes and concerns.
    • While we do look at global trends, the CDC has recommended localized decision-making and local data in making decisions.
  8. How might the college provide return to campus guidelines unique to the classroom setting?
    • A dedicated Faculty FAQ is currently being developed with input from faculty and RTCAT.
    • There is a faculty-led group developing classroom guidelines consistent with all collegewide guidance.
    • Additionally, standardized syllabi template language is also being developed by faculty with input from RTCAT.

Summer Professional Development Institute:

Many of us participated in the Summer Professional Development Institute.  If you participated in the Institute and want to receive the $1,850 stipend, you need to submit an Action Plan that is reflective of your learning by August 15, 2021.  Below is an e-mail follow-up that we all received from Paul Miller on August 4 regarding this requirement. 

Thank you for your active participation in the Summer Professional Development Institute. 

Just a friendly reminder, you are required to submit an online Action Plan reflective of your learning at the end of your chosen Learning Pathway to be eligible for the Summer Institute Stipend. The Action Plan can be found by clicking on this link. The Action Plan should take you up to one hour to complete and is due on or before August 15, 2021. 

If you have already submitted your Action Plan, please disregard this email. 

The Action Plan contains three sections. An outline of the Action Plan is below – please do not reply to this email with your action plan included in the table. Once you submit your Action Plan through the web, an email will be sent to you to confirm receipt. 

Section  Purpose Questions Asked Note 
Personal Information What is your M#?  Include the M at the beginning of your number. 
Learning Pathway Which Learning Pathway did you participate in?

 

 
You will select one of the three learning pathways – Dialogue Circle, Series, or Workshop.   If you select the Workshop Learning Pathway, you will be asked to identify the sessions that you did and did not attend.  

How would you rate your Learning Pathway learning experience? You can select up to 5 stars (1 being the worst) 
SMART Goal and Action Plan What is your goal? Create a goal and action plan to apply the summer learning into your professional context. To make sure your goals are clear and reachable, each one should be: Specific (simple, sensible, significant). Measurable (meaningful, motivating). Achievable (agreed, attainable). Realistic and Timely. 
What do you need to do to achieve your goal? Be as specific as possible. Focus on the things you can control. 
How will you identify your success? Be as specific as possible. What data can be collected to provide you with feedback on your desired outcome? 
By when do you need to complete the tasks identified in question 5? Be as specific as possible. Remember, this action plan is self-monitored. You are accountable to YOURSELF. 
What or who can help you complete your tasks identified in question 5? Be as specific as possible. Remember, you have a professional network and systems of support (e.g., deans, department chairs, ELITE, etc.)
What additional PD will you engage in to support your goal (PD topics should be chosen from the connections made in your Learning Pathway). Be as specific as possible. ELITE will use this information to identify new PD topics for the upcoming year. ELITE will evaluate all responses and generalize them into new topics or existing opportunities. 
Would you like for ELITE to contact you about your goal progress throughout the Fall semester? If you select yes, a member of the ELITE team will contact you throughout the fall to discuss your progress.  
Do you have another goal you would like to work on? If you select no, you can submit your responses, and you are done with the Action Plan.   If you select yes, you can repeat Section 3, and set up to two more goals reflective of your summer learning.  

Please let me know if you have any questions. 

Dr. Paul D. Miller
Professional Development Director 
Montgomery College
Office of E-Learning, Innovation & Teaching Excellence (ELITE)
Mannakee Building #325J
Rockville, MD 20850
Cell: (717) 602-3304

As our summer vacation/work comes to a close, we are all making plans for a partial return to campus to teach, counsel, and advise our students.  It is important that we all take care of ourselves, both mentally and physically, during this continued unusual period in our MC lives.  We also need to remember how stressful this period of time has been and will continue to be for our students. Many have lost jobs, income, family members, and friends, and they are trying to figure out how they are going to continue being a student and take classes, whether they are remote or f2f.  If there was ever a time for us to be flexible, compassionate, and understanding with our students and our colleagues, now is the time.  Please don’t hesitate to refer students to a counselor if you feel a student is in need of assistance or to seek assistance for yourself.

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Z.

Harry N. Zarin, Professor/Counselor

President-AAUP

AAUP Update-Full Faulty Meeting Follow-up and Questions for the RTCAT

August 2021

Colleagues:

On July 21 over 100 faculty members Zoomed into our first ever summer meeting of the full-time faculty.  The conversations that occurred during this meeting focused on the return to campus plans that had been announced by the Administration.  We had our own panel of experts (Collins Jones, Biotechnology-Germantown, Lori Kelman, Biotechnology-Germantown, Jennifer Capparella, Natural Sciences Department Chair- Germantown, and Melissa Sprague, Health Sciences Department Chair-TP/SS) on hand to respond to our questions and concerns.  Towards the end of the meeting three members of the Administration’s Return to Campus Coronavirus Advisory Team (Kim Kelly, Vice President and Provost-Rockville, Monique Davis, Dean of Health Sciences, Kevin Long, Chair of the RTCAT) were there to provide us with their insights into what is happening on the Committee. They also responded to several of our questions and concerns.  We are very appreciative that these employees participated in our meeting.

The meeting was recorded so that faculty who were not able to attend the meeting could still hear what was discussed during the meeting.  If you are interested in listening to the meeting, please go to the Chapter’s website, mcaaup.org, click on the link to my July 14, 2021 update, and scroll to the bottom of the page.  The link to the recording has been posted there along with the access passcode that you need to enter in order to listen to the recording.

It is important to note that information the Administration uses to make decisions regarding the COVID virus change almost daily. For example, since our meeting, the Administration has reinstituted the mask mandate based on new guidance received by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and in consultation with MCs Return-to-Campus Advisory Committee.  

Below is the list of the questions that were asked during the meeting along with responses and recommendations that were discussed by our panel of experts and the RTCAT members. 

Below the list of faculty questions and recommendations that were discussed during our meeting is a separate list of questions that the Executive Committee forwarded to the RTCAT.  We will provide you with their responses as soon as we receive them.

Return to Campus

Faculty Questions and Recommendations

As more of us plan to return to campus in the fall, we appreciate the work college leadership has done to keep the college and community informed through the online resources of the coronavirus information page. A great deal of valuable information is available there.

The purpose of this set of faculty questions and recommendations is to serve as a supplement to the information already available. Faculty offices and classrooms represent a context with distinctive concerns that likely require their own set of guidelines.

The questions and recommendations in this document were collected widely through both the faculty email list and a summer union meeting with over 100 attendees, including members of the CAT and RTCAT, who graciously accepted our invitations.

This document serves, then, to accomplish three goals:

  • to provide faculty with the responses to their questions and concerns that we have already collected.
  • to seek answers and solutions from college leadership to unanswered questions.
  • to propose viable recommendations from the faculty perspective where appropriate.

I. Questions with Guidance from College

  1. Will college be transparent about ventilation systems especially since some rooms do not have windows?

Information about the current approaches the college is taking to cleaning and ventilation:

https://www.montgomerycollege.edu/coronavirus/employees/faqs.htm

2. Will faculty know class seat size in advance?

This is the answer from college leadership via email to union leadership:

“Class size numbers were established based on the health and safety conditions (metrics) at the time the schedule was developed.  Once Montgomery County’s health and safety conditions (metrics) improved, classes that transitioned from remote to f2f did so without a change in the class size capacity.  Many remote sections were converted with a class size capacity of 12 to 14 students.  The sections added to provide more f2f options are also capped at 12 to 14 students.  During the duration of an on-campus course, we will not change the class size — even if metrics improve.  If necessary, we will meet student demand for on-campus courses by adding sections with the same 12 to 14 class size capacity.“

3. Might a course section return to remote if an instructor feels it is not safe?

Kevin Long indicated that sections cannot be switched permanently back to a remote class if it is listed as face-to-face. However, he indicated that an emergency and temporary shift to remote for a given section during the semester could be an option

4. If someone tests positive, what is the required procedure for the entire college community?

If someone has tested positive for COVID, that person should contact Public Safety at publicsafety@montgomerycollege.edu or 240-567-3333. If in contact with someone who has tested positive for more than 15 minutes without a mask, those individuals should contact Public Safety as well. It was suggested that faculty include this information in their syllabus.

5.Will the college be flexible if circumstances change and they need to change COVID policies?

Melissa Sprague indicated that the CAT has done this in the past, and she does not see any reason why they will not continue to reevaluate circumstances and make changes as needed. There may be emergency pivots to remote learning that are temporary on a case-by-case basis.

6.How flexible can we be on attendance if students are not feeling well?

Faculty are urged to be flexible so that students do not feel forced to come to campus when they feel ill. Showing flexibility while upholding standards of attendance will be a careful balancing act for each instructor.

7. Will the college provide masks and other PPE for faculty and students?

From the coronavirus information page:

Are we going to receive personal protective equipment (PPE) for all lasses/students/employees from Facilities or should each department order them? 

Yes. Upon request, Facilities will have gloves, face shields, and hand sanitizer for employees of the College community. Masks are available for all who need them and available at the Public Safety office on each campus and the CT building. 

How will we be provided with PPE by Facilities? Are employees supposed to contact Facilities?

Requests for PPE should first be sent to your department supervisor for evaluation. Upon approval, department supervisor or designee can submit the PPE request to the Facilities Service Desk. For off-site locations, such as the Community Engagement Centers and Gaithersburg Training Center, PPE can be picked up from the closest/preferred campus.   

Also, this is what the college has stated in one of their responses to union questions about this issue: “Masks and disinfecting wipes will be available in all classrooms.“ There are some questions about how this will be done and whether facilities will keep these supplies well stocked.

8. Are we going to be required to return to campus for meetings?

We have not heard yet, but we do know that there will be a face-to-face and remote option for the opening meeting. Our union meeting will be remote only. We do know that there is a face-to-face meeting scheduled at Germantown with about 80 participants so they may be waiting to see how that goes before making a final decision on a collegewide meeting guideline might be for the fall. Monique Davis said that they will be meeting soon to explore this further.

9. Will Professional Week trainings be available online? Will there be trainings that deal with COVID specifically?

Kim Kelley said that she would take this back to RTCAT.

10. Are there any FT faculty members or members of the AAUP on the Return to Campus Advisory Team?

There are currently no faculty members on the Return to Campus Advisory Team. Kevin Long did not have an explanation as to why.

11. Will MC require vaccinations at some point?

The RTCAT did today pass on their recommendation to do so to the next level, but it remains to be seen how Management will do this, what the verification process will be, how we would handle those circumstances where students cannot / will not get vaccinated.

The following set of questions and recommendations was sent to the RTCAT.  We will post the responses we receive from the RTCAT on the Chapter webpage. 

Return to Campus

Faculty Questions for the RTCAT

and Recommendations

  • Current available information is in blue font.
  • Faculty recommendations are highlighted in green.
  1. Can we dismiss students who show signs of symptoms during class? What if the student refuses to leave the classroom?

Faculty Recommendation:

If a faculty member is concerned that a student is coming to class when they appear ill, it seems appropriate to show the same kind of sympathy one might show to anyone who is ill and politely and discreetly suggest that they go home and get some rest. Explain to the student that they will not be penalized and that the instructor will work with the student to make up any missed assignments.

In the case that a student appears to exhibit symptoms of Covid but wishes to remain in the classroom, the college should think through possible Covid exposure conditions and procedures. The classroom is an indoor space where faculty and students are expected to stay and work; they are not as free to leave as other public spaces, making the classroom a unique space when considering possible Covid exposure.

Currently, the FAQ says that if an employee is concerned that a fellow employee is exhibiting COVID symptoms, they should contact their supervisor. If a student is exhibiting possible COVID symptoms and wishes to remain in the classroom, is there somebody to contact? Should the class continue as scheduled? Is there some way to mitigate student and faculty discomfort around the fear of exposure in these situations?

It would be useful to create a clear syllabus addendum: Public Safety contact info, self-reporting guidelines, outline of COVID symptoms, reminder to update contact info for tracing purposes, and procedures to follow for classroom situations where there is a potential exposure to COVID.

  • Can a faculty member dismiss class if, during class, it is discovered that someone in the classroom has tested positive for COVID?

We know that Public Safety needs to be notified in the situation, but what other procedures should be followed in the actual classroom?

Faculty Recommendation:

A faculty member should be free to dismiss class immediately on a given day if it is discovered that someone in the classroom has tested positive for Covid.

  • Can faculty put up plexiglass in their office when meeting with students?

The college already has some plexiglass barriers in appropriate places:

https://www.montgomerycollege.edu/coronavirus/employees/faqs.html

Faculty Recommendation:

The college should provide plexiglass barriers for faculty who request it. If the college will not provide these barriers, faculty should be able to put up these barriers if they wish. There needs to be very clear instruction for how does a faculty member can request plexiglas barriers for their office or classroom.

10. Are there any FT faculty members or members of the AAUP on the Return to Campus Advisory Team?

There are currently no faculty members on the Return to Campus Advisory Team. Kevin Long did not have an explanation as to why.

Faculty Recommendation:

We recommend that faculty from a range of disciplines be included on the RT Covid Advisory Team, and at least one member of the AAUP Executive Committee. There are issues in classrooms and offices that would be on the forefront of the faculty mind but might be overlooked by non-faculty leadership. Faculty should be considered a valuable resource in this regard.

11. Will MC require vaccinations at some point?

The RTCAT did today pass on their recommendation to do so to the next level, but it remains to be seen how Management will do this, what the verification process will be, how we would handle those circumstances where students cannot / will not get vaccinated.

Faculty Recommendation:

The faculty largely support a vaccination requirement for those who can / should receive it. Use Castle Branch software to verify and collect vaccination records.

  • What should we do to maintain social distance in the classroom? What do we do if the classroom does not allow us to maintain an appropriate 6 feet of distance in the classroom?

Currently, many face-to-face classes already have smaller enrollment caps to allow for social distancing, but some do not, sometimes because the classroom layout in a room like a lab may limit social distancing options, and sometimes because the class was created when the safety standards were different.

Faculty Recommendation:

Classroom enrollment should be capped at a number that allows for social distancing. Students should space themselves around the classroom, whenever possible, to maintain social distance.

  • What sorts of signage will be provided to promote public safety?

Faculty Recommendation:

To promote social distancing, decals on the floors of classrooms, waiting areas, restrooms, bus queues, and so forth could be provided indicating safe distances. Decals can be placed on the desks in classrooms to promote socially distanced seating. We recommend putting signs outlining symptoms, safety procedures, and Public Safety contact info in the following locations:

  • Parking lots.
  • Building entrances.
  • Common areas within buildings.
  • Elevator lobbies.
  • Entrances to classrooms and instructional spaces
  • How much will the college look beyond our county to gather information on global trends and what is the process used by the college to develop policies?

Faculty Recommendation:

Because Montgomery College draws from areas outside of Montgomery County for its student population, broader metrics should be considered when making Covid policies.

  • How might the college provide return to campus guidelines unique to the classroom setting?

Faculty Recommendation:

In addition to the syllabus addendum, we believe there needs to be a separate faculty FAQ on the Coronavirus Response and Return to Campus webpage. It would be particularly helpful to include particular classroom scenarios (What if a student refuses to wear a mask? What if a student exhibits COVID symptoms?) with guidelines for how to resolve each scenario.

AAUP Update: AAUP Update: Solidarity Statement, Nominations, Testimony and more.

April 21, 2021

Colleagues:

Each semester I generally teach a class called STSU122 – Principles of Academic Success.  Students who have not performed very well academically and need to learn how to become a better student typically populate this class.  In Chapter 6, Gaining Self-Awareness, we discuss the scripts that make up of our core beliefs.  Our core beliefs are described as unconscious judgements that dictate what we consistently think, feel, and do. They are that invisible part of a script that contains our view of other people, the world, and ourselves. Our core beliefs are made up of our emotional patterns, our behavioral patterns, and our thought patterns. 

One exercise I do with my students is to ask them to complete the following sentence stems according to their core beliefs.

            The world is______________.

            People are_______________.

            I am____________________.

I didn’t teach this semester, but I imagine if I had the responses I would have seen to these three sentence stems would have been different from those I have seen in previous classes.  Why, the reasons are obvious. The COVID-19 pandemic has made the world a very scary place, a place where just going to the store or meeting with friends could result is someone becoming very ill and possibly dying.  Our students have lost the safety they feel simply by coming to campus daily because their home life is very unsafe. I could go on.

In addition to dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, the violence we have seen in this country over the past year gives all of us cause to be concerned about our own safety.  Much of this violence has recently focused on members of the Asian American community. The Executive Committee and the entire Chapter stands in solidarity with the Pacific Islander and Asian American community after the recent violence in Georgia and the on-going harassment of that community.  These events emphasize the importance of having continuing discussions on racial violence and injustice and the impacts on all communities, and for union purposes, the impact on the faculty.

Last semester I announced that the Chapter planned on hosting a spring dialogue to discuss the importance of race from the perspective of our full-time faculty and to better understand how race affects their experiences at the College. The Chapter’s goal in hosting this dialogue is to facilitate a collaborative conversation that helps Chapter leadership understand how it can better support the faculty and that helps faculty understand how they can better support each other. This dialog, “Discussing Race and Labor in Academia,” will be held today from 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. We hope you will join us in a conversation in the spirit of the World Cafe, which seeks to provide large groups with a comfortable space to build community knowledge through a series of small-group dialogues. The event is open to all members of the full-time faculty regardless of union affiliation. Members and nonmembers are welcome.  Register now.

Naliyah Kaya, Sociology, TP/SS, Michael LeBlanc, VP, TP/SS, Ginger Robinson, Negotiating Team, Katya Salmi, Sociology, Rockville, Jarvis Slacks, VP, Rockville 

As the semester progresses to a close in a month, please take some time to take care of yourself and your students.  Please recognize that many of your students may need some additional time to complete their assignments because they are having a very difficult time being a good student for a variety of reasons, including living the isolated COVID life, taking classes remotely, and dealing with a loss of income, increased stress, illness of self or family, etc.

Return to Campus Plans:

Numerous members of the faculty have contacted members of the Executive Committee and have asked us when we are going to return to campus, to our offices, to our classrooms, learning centers, etc. Several committees have been established to determine what the return to campus will look like and Dr. Pollard has spoken about this several times in her weekly messages.  Members of the Chapter serve on these committees and members of the Executive Committee have had regular meetings with members of the administration on this topic.  We represent you during these regular meetings when we discuss the plans that are being made to bring us back to campus in a safe manner.  The safety of our students and employees guides all of the plans that are being put in place to help us return to campus. 

Technology Requests:

Please don’t forget to submit your hardware requests if you need a laptop, a scanner, a Mac Book, or other technology in order to perform your job from home. 

Hardware Request Form

Nominations and the Closing Meeting:

Our closing meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 19th right after the end of the President’s closing meeting.  Our meeting should start around 11:15 a.m..  A zoom link will be sent to all of you with additional details about the meeting later in May.

At the closing meeting we will discuss the activities of the Chapter for the past year and our treasury report, we will vote on whether to increase our dues or not, we will listen to your concerns and questions, and we will announce the results of our election of Chapter officers for next year. 

An announcement about nominations for next year’s Chapter officers will be coming out in the next week or two and after the slate is announced we will hold our election electronically.  You must be a dues paying member of the Chapter in order to vote in our election of officers.  All Chapter officers serve a one-year term of office and nominations will be solicited for all positions.  The elected Chapter officers consist of the President, Secretary, Treasurer, and three Vice-Presidents, one from each campus.  One Vice-President, Michael LeBlanc-TP/SS, has indicated that he will step down from his position as the Vice-President for the TP/SS campus at the end of this year. Our previous Treasurer stepped down earlier this semester.  All other elected Chapter officers have indicated that they would like to return next year. Therefore, we need people to step up and join the Chapter leadership next year by running for office this May.  We hope that some of you will consider joining the small but active and dedicated group of faculty leaders. 

County Council Budget Hearing Testimony:

The County Council holds operating budget request hearings in April and typically, representatives from the College testify at these hearings. This year Jarvis Slacks English-R represented the Chapter by testifying on our behalf.  Below is the testimony he submitted to the County Council.

Jarvis Slacks, Vice President Rockville Campus
American Association of University Professors
Montgomery College Chapter
Operating Budget Testimony April 7, 2021

My name is Jarvis Slacks and I have been an English professor at the Rockville Campus of Montgomery College for 9 years. I am testifying today in my role as one of three Vice Presidents of the full-time faculty union, the AAUP.

I am sure that all of can agree that this past year has been anything but normal. Approximately a year ago, the entire faculty at Montgomery College had to start teaching their classes remotely and all students were expected to attend their classes remotely. This sudden shock presented us with an unparalleled task. We were expected to create remote versions of our face-to-face classes, including lab science, applied technology, studio art, physical education, etc. in one week. And to make matters more complicated, the majority of the faculty had no training on how to teach classes remotely and many didn’t have the technology at home that would enable them to do so.

Faculty counselors had to come up with a mechanism to provide remote counseling and advising services for our students.

While all of this was taking place, we had to deal with the stress of trying to protect ourselves and our families from a virus that we still didn’t understand and for which there is no cure.

Many of our students were experiencing similar stressors. Many of them didn’t own a computer at the start of the COVID crisis and had no internet access at home. Many were and still are living in some not so nice environments and had figure out how they were going to study in an environment where they had no place to study. Many of our students and members of their families contracted the virus and students still managed to attend and complete their classes.

Despite all of the negatives, our enrollments were up in the summer, we survived the fall semester, our enrollments were up in our winter session, and our spring enrollments are stable. Our students are being taught their classes by some very creative and competent faculty and they are being counseled and advised by some very dedicated faculty counselors.

We did it and how did we do it? Among other things;

  • The counselors made major modifications to our appointment system and created an on-line chat feature to help funnel students to appropriate counselors and to respond to their on-line questions in an efficient manner.
  • Our disability support service counselors modified our website and internal processes so that our students could be served remotely in a very effective manner.
  • Approximately 700 full and part-time faculty members registered for a specialized seven-week summer 2020 training program so that we would be better prepared to teach our student in a remote environment. This was an intense training program which many of us were required to participate in after the end of our regular workday.
  • We modified our spring 2021 schedule in order to better accommodate some of our students by offering 7-week classes in addition to our regular 15 and 13- week classes. This meant that a large number of faculty who were just trained to teach remotely and were still in the process of building their fall 2020 15 and 13 week classes, now had to modify those classes and make them 7-week classes.
  • Through the use of the CARES Act funding, fundraising by our Foundation, and other emergency funding, hundreds of students were provided laptops by the College so that they could attend their remote classes.
  • Hundreds of students were provided emergency funding to help them pay some of their bills and purchase food.
  • We modified our academic regulations in order to accommodate students who could not complete their classes due to COVID related reasons.

For the past year, we have continued to our part to adapt, serve, and educate our students. Now we need you to do your part and support our Administration’s FY 2022 operating budget request. We have educated many current county employees, the very ones who are going to get a raise next year. We are educating future county employees, police, fire fighters, health care workers, teachers, etc.

We have supported the College and the County over the last year and despite the increased workload, adapting courses, adapting services, as well as dealing with the personal stressors and sacrifices we experienced, we have agreed to no increase in salary for next year. Let me repeat, while other county employees negotiated an increase in salary for next year, we agreed to no increase in salary for next year. We hope that this sacrifice and degree of cooperation is recognized and appreciated by both our Administration and the County because we will be asking for and expect an increase salary for the full-time faculty for the 22-23 academic year.

Thank you

I hope all of you have a good rest of the semester.  Please look for future Chapter e-mails regarding our call for nominations and the closing meeting.

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Z.
Harry N. Zarin, Professor/Counselor
President-AAUP
Montgomery College

AAUP Update: Spring Meeting

Colleagues:

Welcome back for another interesting semester of work at MC.  I hope that all of you are healthy and that you were able to get some much needed rest over the holiday break.

I am writing to remind all of you that on Tuesday morning, January 19, we will be holding a virtual faculty meeting for all full-time faculty members who are members of the bargaining unit. Department Chairs, one-semester temporary faculty, and faculty whose positions are grant funded are not part of the bargaining unit.  You do not have to be a member of the AAUP Chapter in order to attend this meeting.

On behalf of the AAUP Chapter, an e-mail with a Zoom link was sent to you earlier today from Julie Levinson.  This is your invitation to attend the meeting.  At the meeting we will provide you with information about negotiations that occurred this past fall, we will hold a vote on the tentative agreement that was reached, we will discuss the Contract 101 sessions we offered last semester, and we will talk about our upcoming Contract 101 sessions and more.  We will also take some time to hear your comments, concerns, and questions.  

Last fall 300 faculty members attended our opening meeting.  Thanks to Julie Levinson’s advocacy and hard work, this semester we have been allowed to increase the number of faculty members who can attend our Zoom meeting from 300-500. We hope that a large number of you will take the time to participate in the meeting next week.  Again, we will allow ample time for you to express your opinions and concerns about issues that are important to you and your colleagues.

The meeting will begin at 11:15 but we will open up the Zoom room around 11:00am.

I look forward to seeing many of you at the meeting.

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Z.

Harry N. Zarin, Professor/Counselor
President-AAUP
Montgomery College

AAUP Update: A Thanksgiving Update

As we embark upon a Thanksgiving Holiday like we have never seen before, I want to wish all of you, on behalf of the Executive Committee, a healthy and well deserved holiday break.  I hope you are able to take some time over the break to take care of the physical and mental health of yourself and your family. Get away from your computer, exercise, spend some time outside, and try to do some things that you haven’t had time to do this semester.  Most importantly, just try to relax.

A quick note for all of us to remember.  How cool is it that some of the very first responders and medical professionals in our communities treating us for this terrible virus and protecting us are MC employees and graduates. We are as grateful for them as they are for us.

On Wednesday evening, November 11 members of our Negotiating Team (Sharon Piper, Tito Baca, Robin Flanary, and Ginger Robinson) hosted our first Contract 101 session.  During this Zoom session they covered several parts of our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA): Articles 2 (Management Functions), 4 (Faculty Appointments), and 5 (Faculty Workload) The 30 or so faculty in attendance had a robust discussion about each of these articles. 

On Wednesday evening December 9 (time TBA), we will offer our second Contract 101 session which will cover Article 6 (Leaves of Absence), Article 7 (Chapter Rights), and Article 8 (Salary), in our CBA. 

Our goal in hosting these sessions is to help all of you become better informed about our CBA, the role of the Chapter, and the Executive Committee. Most importantly, we want you to recognize that we support all bargaining unit members of the full-time faculty whether you are a full dues paying member of the Chapter, paying the voluntary collective bargaining service fee, or you are getting the benefits of our services and paying nothing.  As I mentioned in my last update, succession planning is very important for our Chapter and we hope that by becoming better informed that some of you will consider taking a leadership role in the Chapter in the future.

In addition to our January opening meeting, we will continue to host additional informative sessions during the spring semester.  After a robust and healthy conversation among us and several of our constituents concerning how we, as an Executive Committee, could respond to the nationwide discussion of social justice and racial equity, we have decided to host a session on social justice and racial equity at MC. Our goal is to facilitate a collaborative conversation that helps us understand how we can better represent the faculty and helps all of you understand how you can better support each other.

It is important for all of you to know that our primary role as an Executive Committee is to represent all of you, protect all of you, and protect our union interests by protecting our contract. This is our primary mission at MC.  For this reason, our Chapter has never issued a statement in support of any social movement, political movement, political party, or candidate.  However, we do believe that Black lives matter, and for us this affirmation means that our faculty of color have a right to thrive at MC and not just survive.  If any faculty member believes they are experiencing unequal treatment due their race, gender, sexual orientation, or faith, we stand ready to support you in your fight for equality and social justice. 

Again, I hope you have an enjoyable and restful Thanksgiving holiday.

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Z.

AAUP Update: Contract 101 Seminars, Negotiations, Schedules, and More.

I hope this update finds that all of you are healthy and well.  All of us have had to make considerable adjustments to our daily lives and the students appreciate all that we are doing to support them during this most difficult time. 

This year the Executive Committee is planning to host faculty meetings several times during the academic year. We would like to use these meetings as an opportunity for you, the members, to check in with us.  You can ask questions about issues that concern you and you can give us information about any issues you would like us to know about. 

One issue we will be focusing on this year is succession planning.  Many of us on the Executive Committee and the Negotiating Team have been involved in Chapter leadership for a long time.  As with any organization, succession planning is an important issue that needs to be addressed.  We look forward to meeting with members of the Chapter and hope that many of you will consider taking on a role in leading the Chapter in the years to come.

Contract 101 Seminars:

As a service to our membership, the AAUP Negotiating Team will be sponsoring two virtual discussions this semester on the AAUP contract.

The first session will be held on Wednesday November 11, at 7:30pm and will cover the contract

  • Article 2 – Management functions,
  • Article 4- Faculty appointments,
  • Article 5 -Workload.

The second session will be held on Wednesday December 9 (time TBA) and will cover

  • Article 6- Leaves of Absence,
  • Article 7- Chapter Rights and
  • Article 8- Salaries.

We will try to schedule these sessions during times that will allow for maximum attendance.  Zoom links and other information will be sent in a separate e-mail at the beginning of November. 

Update on Negotiations:

Negotiations started on Monday, October 19, 2020.  In this initial meeting with Management, we discussed ground rules and AAUP interests. Financials (salary, EAP and overload) are on the table for this round of negotiations.

Tito Baca, Ginger Robinson, Robin Flanary and Sharon Piper (lead negotiator) are representing the Chapter as members of the Negotiating Team. 

All activities that take place at the negotiating table are confidential until both sides agree to the release of information. We will provide you with updates as best we can while negotiations are taking place.

The Winter Session:

This is just a reminder that if you are teaching during the 5-week winter session, your winter session ESH counts towards your spring load. 

Important Reminders:

  • The maximum workload you are allowed in any given semester is 20ESH.
  • The maximum workload you are allowed in any academic year, August to May, is 36ESH.
  • The minimum workload you need to carry in any academic year, August to May, is 30ESH.

Spring Scheduling:

The spring schedule has been posted and spring registration for students who have earned at least 30 credits began on November 2.  Registration for all other students begins on November 9. 

Like it or not, this year’s spring schedule is like none we have ever seen before.  The number of 15-week classes has been drastically reduced and the number of accelerated classes (primarily 7-week classes) has been dramatically increased.  The link to the Spring 2021 FAQ that was previously published is below.  Please refer to this FAQ for information on what changes were made to the spring schedule and the why.

Many of us have been meeting with students to help them figure out which classes they should take in the spring.  It is very important that all of us work with the students to help them understand the ramifications of the new schedule. Many of the students I have met with do not understand the schedule and the implications of trying to complete a class in 7-weeks.  Please encourage them to carefully consider the combination of classes they take and how many credits they plan on taking prior to actually registering for classes. 

Academic Planning Sessions:

The Academic Affairs Division will be conducting academic planning sessions on Nov 5 and 6.  During these sessions, extensive discussions will be held on the shape of future academic semesters at MC. College leadership, including Dr. Pollard, the Senior Vice Presidents, Chairs of major College-wide committees, AAUP leadership, and Faculty Council chairs have been invited to attend these planning sessions. We hope these sessions will give us a forum to talk about what a post-pandemic MC will look like.  I will be representing the Chapter at these academic planning sessions.

Parking Fees:

A number of inquiries have come to several members of the Chapter’s Executive Committee regarding parking fee assessments.  Faculty want to know if they should or could cancel their parking fee assessment.  Considering that we are all working remotely this question makes sense.

I had a private meeting and subsequent conversations with Donna Schena, Vice President for Administrative and Fiscal Services regarding this issue.  She said that she would issue a statement to the College community on this subject and she did so on October 8.  In her memorandum, she provided all of us with information about why the parking fee exists and how the revenue is used.  With that information in mind, she stated the following regarding cancelling your parking fee assessment:

”I ask you to consider what the parking revenue covers and the context of the College’s fiscal circumstances, when making your decision about whether to cancel your parking pass and the fee associated with the pass. If you wish to stop your payroll deduction for the upcoming year, you should send an email to: parking@montgomerycollege.edu. The effective date of the cancellation will be the first payroll period after receipt of the notification. “ 

You are free to request that your parking fee assessment be cancelled by following the directions Ms. Schena provided in her memorandum. In addition, you need to return your parking placard to the Central Administration building.

Open Enrollment has started:

The following is a message from the Benefits Office.

“Open Enrollment for benefits has started and runs through 5 pm on Monday, November 16th.  There are no changes to any of the benefit structures (with the exception of specialty drugs on the Cigna POS plan), and no increases to any of the paycheck deduction amounts for 2021.  Just a reminder that if you are not making any changes, then no action is required.  The one exception would be if you are electing a flexible spending account for 2021.  This requires re-enrollment in Workday every year.  Please log into Workday through My MC and click on your inbox (envelope in top right corner) to view and open your Open Enrollment event.  You must review all the pages, read the disclaimer, and click “I agree” at the end and submit.  Please save and print a copy of your changes as proof.  If you wish to change a Supplemental Retirement Annuity deduction amount (pre-tax money going to TIAA, Voya, Equitable, and/or Valic), this must be done in a separate event (Change Retirement Savings), also through Workday.  HRSTM will be offering both pre-recorded and live sessions on the different benefits, as well as virtual office hours.  Please watch for the email blasts, visit the Open Enrollment website, and visit Alex, your virtual benefit advisor, while on the site.”

Please stay healthy and well during these difficult times and take the time to take care of your own physical, emotional, and mental health.  Also, remember that if you need to take sick leave for a COVID related reason, you may be able to take COVID sick leave which will not deduct from your regular sick leave.  Please click on the link below for more information on COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave.

https://info.montgomerycollege.edu/offices/human-resources/covid-19-emergency-paid-sick-leave-request.html

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Z.

AAUP Update: The highs, lows, and disappointments

Welcome back!

On behalf of the Executive Committee, I want to welcome all of you back for another interesting year of work at MC.  We hope that you and your family members had a safe and healthy summer.

The Highs:

I, for one, felt that we ended the spring semester and made it through the summer on a high note. Here are some positive actions and initiatives instituted by the Administration.

  • Moving to remote instruction, counseling and advising, and the provision of other services before Spring Break due to the COVID19 virus was a decision that protected all of us. This was a difficult decision to make but it was the correct decision.
  • Paying all student workers and casual temps through the end of the academic year.  This was an easy decision to make and it was the right one.
  • Creating the SRT training (whether you liked it or not, at least we had some training) and using the CARES Act funds to pay those of us who successfully completed the training.
  • Providing ESH for approximately 30 faculty mentors to assist those of us who participated in the SRT training.  Without them, many of us would not have successfully completed the training.
  • Sound fiscal management has enabled Management to honor this year’s negotiated increases in salary.
  • We have had no furloughs or layoffs due to the COVID-19 virus and its effects on the College.
  • Payroll processed over 650 vouchers and paid the faculty our stipends for successfully completing the SRT training by the August 28 paycheck.

In short, we came together as a community, supported each other, served our students, and did so because we care about what we do.  Most importantly, we care about our students. As a faculty, we should be proud of all we did last spring and throughout the summer.

The Lows:

I had hoped the high we ended on would continue into the fall semester.  Unfortunately, this didn’t happen.

A number of us learned at the Academic Affairs Retreat that there were several proposals on the table to modify the Spring 2021 schedule as a way of trying to help counter the expected drop in enrollment. Four proposals were presented at the retreat.  My hope and expectation was that these four proposals would be presented to the faculty at various Professional Week meetings.  It just made sense to me, and to most of us, that the Administration would want to hear our opinions and ideas before they made a final decision on possibly modifying the spring 2021 schedule.  If the Administration truly respected us why wouldn’t they want to hear our thoughts and ideas about how to help use scheduling to improve enrollment and student success.  The Administration and the faculty share responsibility for what happens in our classrooms, and by eliminating our voice in the decision making process, they eliminated/denied that shared responsibility.

Many of us were terribly hurt, frustrated, and concerned that the final decision to modify the Spring 2021 schedule was made without the benefit of consultation/discussion with the faculty.  I am starting my 28th year at Montgomery College and I could not imagine  any other administrators that I have ever worked with doing something like this. Don’t get me wrong, the Administration had the right to make this decision but most of us do not believe it was the right thing to do.

How will this decision impact the faulty?  We have to finish building our fall semester Blackboard sites (building a Blackboard site is a first for many of us) while at the same time making massive changes to these classes in order to accommodate an accelerated format for the majority of the spring offerings.  And we are doing this despite the fact that many of us do not believe this is best plan for our students.

How will this decision impact the students?  A few faculty members recently ran some numbers on the DFW rates for students in several Fall 2019 15-week versus 7-week courses. The results demonstrated that in:

  • ENGL102:15-week courses had a 27% DFW rate; 7-week courses had a 57.5% DFW rate.
  • CMAP120: 15-week courses had a 15% DFW rate; 7-week courses had a 38% DFW rate.
  • BSAD101: 15-week courses had a 10% DFW rate; 7-week courses had a 31% DFW rate.

If this is an indication of what’s to come when most of our courses will be offered in a 7-week format we are about to see an increase in our DFW rates.

No one will ever convince me that taking a developmental math class in 7 weeks is better for a student than taking it in 15 weeks. The same can be said for the majority of classes that we teach. I spent part of my day yesterday and today helping a student move from an accelerated class to a 15-week class.  He signed up for the accelerated class and realized after a very short time that this was the wrong thing to do, and this is a student who arrived here with over 25 AP credits. The reduction in 15-week classes in the spring will reduce this option for many of our students.

Others outside the college are also concerned about this change in our spring scheduling.  Below is a portion of an unsolicited e-mail that was sent to me from a Program Director at a local four-year university.  He has worked with many of our students who transfer into his program.

“I really feel for your faculty and for your students. There is so much diversity at MC that I do not want your students to suffer as a result of this decision. I sure hope they carefully researched this teaching format and are going to prepare your faculty well to make the teaching adjustments. I simply was floored when I heard that news and immediately I thought of the former MC students who transferred[to a local 4-year university] and then came to see me after less than a year saying the courses were too fast paced. That school has a history of teaching online so they may have been able to adjust somewhat easier, but MC has so many faculty who’ve taught for years and with the pandemic this March had to quickly move to online and now they all will have to adjust again and try to condense their teaching even more into a 7 week format. Hopefully there will not be any snow blizzards if the pandemic is cleared up, because this decision will be very tough on everyone.”

The Disappointment

During the opening meeting Counseling and Advising was the subject of a public dressing down by Dr. Pollard in her video message.  This dressing down was unnecessary, sad, and incredibly disrespectful.

The end of the Spring 2020 semester and the summer of 2020 was trying on all of us.  Counseling and Advising switched to e-mail, phone and zoom appointments very suddenly in March.  The counselors adapted and worked very hard to support our student’s academic and emotional needs.  Remember, they are not just advisors like they are at many other community colleges they are also counselors. Our students depend on them for emotional support during difficult times and believe me when I say these were and still are difficult times for our students and their families.

Counseling and advising added functionality to their online apparatus to support and answer students in as timely a way as possible, including a live chat function, phone/zoom appointments, and then finally walk-ins. Switching from appointments to remote walk-ins enabled them to serve a larger number of students in a trying and complicated time.

Many counselors worked overtime and thanklessly, while watching some administrators on the ‘academic side’ disparage or ignore their contributions.  Starfish was implemented so that students could make appointments to see counselors as opposed to sitting in endless lines. Starfish also helps us record notes regarding our meetings with students and store academic plans and other important documents.  This information helps ensure consistent communication among the counselors and other faculty who have access to Starfish. This communication helps us work together so that we can support our students.

When this investment in an advising tool is ignored, it communicates how much counselors and counseling is not valued, along with perpetuating confusion for the students.  This occurred because the Academic Affairs unit implemented their own advising system.

We as a faculty believe in the mission of MC.  We are here to educate our students, to do our part to help close the achievement gap, to help the students successfully reach their academic goals and to make a positive difference in the lives of the students we work with. To be ignored or publicly humiliated after one of the most difficult summers we all have ever experienced was at best, disrespectful and unnecessary.

The decision to make substantial changes to the Spring 2021 schedule without involving the faculty and publicly embarrassing Counseling and Advising speaks to a pattern of disrespect and a lack of collegiality towards the full-time faculty at Montgomery College. We hope the Administration will eventually recognize that as valued members of this college our opinions and ideas should be consistently sought after because we can help improve the services, programs, and academic offerings at MC.

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Z., Counselor/Professor
President AAUP

AAUP Update: An Update to my Update and Voting

Colleagues:

Have you ever written an e-mail, hit the send button, and then realized that you shouldn’t have hit send when you did.  After hearing from several faculty members and members of the Executive Committee, I realize that I should have modified some of what I wrote in last night’s update prior to hitting the send button. 

I understand that my last update caused a bit of confusion regarding the optional summer training program that is being offered by ELITE.  In my update, I provided information for those who are interested in teaching in summer session II and information related to those scheduled to teach in the fall.  I mentioned that those scheduled to teach in the fall must follow the information stated on the flowchart and participate in an appropriate training program over the summer.  The statement should have said; if you are scheduled to teach in the fall and are not currently trained to teach distance learning or hybrid courses, we encourage you to take advantage of the added monetary incentive to get the structured remote training, or other appropriate optional training, over the summer.  We don’t anticipate that this monetary incentive will be offered during the Fall semester.

We are keenly aware of the contract and how the current situation has impacted our scope of work and are discussing these issues with HRDE and will be communicating to the faculty as things progress. Dr. Pollard’s decision to start the fall semester with structured remote or distance learning teaching added a new wrinkle that was not official until we all received her memorandum this week.  We know that faculty are not required to work during the summer and have worked to ensure that those who can participate in the optional summer training program get some compensation for their time.  We have yet to discuss the plan the college has to ensure a full load in the fall for those faculty who elect not to participate in the optional summer training. We have reached out to Management to start such a discussion to ensure that our contract is honored and that any discussions related to our scope of work are negotiated.    

Also, the nomination period for officers of the Chapter for next year is now closed.  Later this evening all dues paying members of the Chapter will receive a ballot.  The voting ends on Tuesday evening and we will announce the elected officers during the closing meeting.

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Z.

Harry N. Zarin, Professor/Counselor

President-AAUP

Montgomery College

AAUP Update: Summer 2020-Related Issues

Colleagues:

This is the second in a number of updates that I planned to send out to all of you.  This update will focus on summer related issues.

Coordinator ESH Issue:

It has come to the attention of the Executive Committee that at least one Dean has made the decision to not provide summer Coordinator ESH to faculty within his unit.  This is the prerogative of the Dean.  We on the Executive Committee firmly believe that that faculty should not be asked to work for free.  If you are not being paid to work during the summer months then you need to refuse any attempt to make you participate in hiring committees, consultations with a Dean or a Chair on hiring of part-time faculty, or on scheduling issues.  If you are not being paid to work then let the Chair and Dean do the work over the summer months.  If you encounter any pressure to work for free during the summer and perform some of your Coordinator duties, please contact Tim Kirkner or myself.

Summer Training Concerns:

After the announcement about the summer training opportunities a flurry of e-mails were sent to members of the Executive Committee.  We received the message loud and clear that the differing messages faculty were receiving from various administrators and Chairs has caused quite a bit of confusion. I hope that the following provides you all with some clarity as it relates to summer training opportunities.

The Summer Professional Development Institute was created to help faculty obtain the training they need so that they are qualified to teach in a structured remote environment by the time classes start in summer session II.  In addition, more advanced optional offerings are provided for those faculty who are already qualified to teach in a distance learning environment but want to enhance their skill level.  If you click on the link below, you will be directed to the Summer Professional Development webpage.

https://www.montgomerycollege.edu/offices/elite/summer-institute.html

If you click on the Professional Development Opportunities link, you will see links to a summer schedule, an application form, a professional development flowchart, an infographic on structured remote teaching, and a syllabus for the structured remote teaching program. 

When you click on the application link, you will see that there are four different training programs being offered this summer.  Select the one that is appropriate for you and if you complete the program you will receive a stipend of $1,850.  These training programs are open to all full-time and part-time faculty members.  If you are not sure which program is best for you, click on the link to the flowchart and it will direct you to the program that is most appropriate for you.  The Structured Remote Teaching training is for faculty like me who have no Blackboard training or like many of you who have completed a portion of the part I training.   The advanced training options (Universal Design for Teaching, Outside the Box Assessment, and Emerging Technologies for the Classroom) are open to those of you who are already qualified to teach distance learning or hybrid classes. 

It is imperative that you complete the application and submit it to your Chair as soon as you can.  The Chair will review your application and forward it to your Dean for approval.  The application must get to the Dean by May 20. 

Please refer to the frequently asked questions link if you need additional information on any of the summer training offerings.

Please notify Tim Kirkner or myself if you are denied the right to participate in any of these training programs.

Technology Issues:

As you know, the Administration has decided that all summer session II classes will be taught in an on-line format or in a structured remote format.  We will start the fall semester teaching all classes in a similar manner.  With this in mind, I want you all to know that the Chapter has stressed to members of the Administration many of us do not have the technology in our homes that will enable us to do this.  In addition, many of us do not have the ergonomic furniture in our homes like we requested and received in our offices.  Members of the Administration are looking in the CARES Act funding to see how this funding could be used to help us meet the technology and non-technology requirements that would enable us to perform our jobs at home.

Professional Week

Next week is Professional Week and a series of guest speakers are schedule to present on relevant topics for many of us.  You must register if you want to “attend” any of these Zoom presentations through MC Learns.  Our own Dr. Collins Jones is scheduled to present on the topic of the COVID-19 virus on May 19 at 11:00am.  He is a terrific speaker and I encourage you to register for his presentation.

AAUP Closing Meeting

In my last update, I mentioned that we will be hosting a Chapter closing meeting for the faculty on Wednesday May 20 at 1:00pm.  Next week we will e-mail you a Zoom link invitation to this meeting.  Please look for this link in your e-mail and plan on attending if your schedule permits.

In closing, I hope you are all safe, and healthy, and that you are taking time to take care of yourself.  This is a very busy and stressful time for us and our students so please be good to yourself.

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Z.

Harry N. Zarin, Professor/Counselor

President-AAUP

AAUP Update: Nominations, Voting, End-of-Year Meeting, April Testimony

Colleagues:

This is the first of several updates that I will be sending out as our very unusual semester comes to a close.  I decided to send out several updates rather than a very long update which many of you just don’t have the time to read. 

I hope that this update finds that all of you are healthy and are doing well under the current circumstances.  This has been quite a stressful semester for all of us, especially for our students.  We have all had to deal with so many different personal issues while at the same time fulfilling our responsibilities to our students and our committee assignments.  Tim Kirkner and I sit in on Sanjay Rai’s weekly Senior Leadership Team meetings and it has been mentioned many times that the Administration is very pleased with how we have worked to move to a remote teaching environment with such short notice.  Our efforts are very much appreciated. 

Please make sure that you take some time to take care of yourself and your family.

Nominations:

The Chapter’s Constitution requires that the membership vote on who will be the elected officers of the Executive Committee at our annual end-of-year meeting.  The elected members of the Executive Committee consists of a President, three Vice Presidents (one from each campus), a Secretary, and a Treasurer.  Members of the Executive Committee serve a one-year term and are elected by simple majority of the votes cast by dues paying members of the Chapter.  Faculty in the bargaining unit who are paying a voluntary collective bargaining service fee are not members of the Chapter and therefore, are not eligible to vote in this election. 

If you would like to nominate someone to serve in one of these positions, or if you are interested in serving in one of these positions, please send your nomination to Julie Levinson, Counselor Takoma Park/Silver Spring. The nominations period will close at the close of business on Wednesday May 15.

All current elected members of the Executive Committee have indicated that they are interested in continuing to serve in their current positions next year.  Please see the Chapter’s webpage, mcaaup.org. for a list of the current Executive Committee Members.

End of Year Meeting:

The Chapter’s Constitution also requires us to hold an annual meeting which we have typically done at the end of each academic year in May.  Due to the current situation, we have decided to hold a Zoom end-of- year meeting at our usual meeting time of 11:00am on Wednesday May 20.  A link to participate in this meeting will be sent to you at a later date. During that meeting we will announce the results of the election, hear a Treasurer’s report, discuss several important issues that we have been working on  this year, and respond to any of your questions.   We hope that many of you will join in and participate in this meeting.

My Testimony:

Annually the President of the College submits a proposed operating budget to the County Executive in mid-February.  Shortly after that, the County Executive makes a recommendation to the County Council to either fully fund our request or to reduce the County contribution to our operating budget.  Following this request, the College continues to lobby the full Council by meeting with individual County Council members and by having members of the College community testify at the County Council operating budget hearing.  This year we were allowed to submit video or written testimony.  On behalf of our membership, I submitted written testimony in support of our operating budget request. A copy of the testimony I submitted is below.


Harry N. Zarin, President

American Association of University Professors

Montgomery College Chapter

Operating Budget Testimony

April 16, 2020

My name is Harry Zarin, and I have been a counselor/professor at the Germantown Campus of Montgomery College for almost 27 years. I am submitting this testimony today in my role as the President of the full-time faculty union, the AAUP.

I want to start my testimony by stating that I would have preferred to be sitting in the County Council Building giving this testimony in person as I have done numerous times.  Considering the circumstances with the pandemic, I want to thank you for giving me an opportunity to submit this testimony in writing. 

When the spring semester started, I looked forward to life as usual at Montgomery College where I have worked for almost 27 years.  Life as usual means seeing students individually or in groups on a regular basis, attending some important and not so important meetings, attending faculty meetings, attending the terrific nursing pinning ceremony, and finally attending graduation.  Unfortunately, a virus got in the way and life as we all know it changed for everyone.

Two days before the start of our spring break, an appropriate decision was made by the Administration to shut down the campuses in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.  The faculty were told that all teaching would be done on a remote basis after our return from spring break.  We had two days to prepare, along with the time we were off for the break, and create all that was needed in order teach remotely.  This was a daunting task for the majority of the faculty who had never taught a distance learning class before. 

We quickly had to become experts in using a combination of technical options that would enable us to remotely  teach, counsel, and advise our students. Blackboard Collaborate, Zoom, Google Voice, Face time, establishing VPN lines so that we could remote into our desktop computers, etc. became the order of the day. Imagine how difficult it was for our faculty to try to create an on-line chemistry, biology, or biotech lab with a few days notice.  How do you teach a studio art class or an auto tech class remotely?  These were just a few of the hurdles our faculty had to overcome in order to teach for the remainder of the semester. The efforts being made by the faculty to teach remotely this semester under stressful and ever changing circumstances has been tremendous. 

If you think this has been a stressful time for our staff and faculty, imagine how stressful this has been for our students. Many of our students have suffered academically, financially, and mentally during this difficult and unusual time.  Numerous students and their families have lost their jobs or had their hours at work severely reduced.  Finding the money to pay their bills and deal with having to learn remotely has caused tremendous increases in anxiety and mental health issues for many of our students and their families. How do you work, if you even have a job, if you have no day care options for your children? 

Imagine that you are a student who has never taken an on-line class and you are suddenly told that you have to learn remotely. How do you accomplish this task if you have no computer in your residence or access to the internet? How do you continue being a successful student with a disability when you can’t see or you are deaf? As a student with a learning disability how do you learn remotely if your learning disability is a hindrance to your ability to learn via a computer?  All of our students, especially those with disabilities, have had to adapt very quickly to this new learning environment and we have had to respond by modifying and adjusting our student support services everyday.

Our Administration and Foundation have done a wonderful job of providing for the needs of many of our students by providing them with additional financial recourses and/or vouchers so that they could receive a laptop computer.  However, there is no way we can meet the financial needs of all of our students and this is where we need the assistance of the County Council. 

Our hope and request is that you approve the College’s requested operating budget.  We want our students to return in the fall, with a budget that does not require us to increase tuition during this difficult time and so that they will have optimal resources in place to make their return successful.   We support our students and your continued support will help us help them achieve their hopes and dreams during these most difficult times.

Thank you.


In Closing:

Towards the end of next week, I will send out another update that will focus on a variety of topics. I will announce our slate of nominees for the Executive Committee and describe how voting will be done in this remote environment. I will describe some of the very important issues that we have been working on as we advocate for our contract and your rights, and will mention several other topics that I believe will be of interest to all of you.

Please take care of yourself and try to be as flexible as you can when working with your students who have struggled to get through this remote learning environment.