Editorial: Division chairs just may be redundant

Posted: October 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

Many of you were around when Grace Mitchell was Cuesta’s president.  You might recall her proposal to get rid of division chairs.  You might also recall our collective outrage at this proposal and our refusal to even put it on the table.

Well, we have come to the realization that Mitchell may have been right.  But, for different reasons, of course.

We believe that the culture at Cuesta has changed so dramatically that division chairs are now redundant.  It may be time for them to go and have the substantial sums of money being paid them go in the faculty pot for salary increases.

Just hang with me for a moment here even though this may strike you as unthinkable.  Let me list for you some current and recent actions of division chairs.  Can you identify your chair in the following list?

A chair collaborated with her dean to terminate a long-time, successful part-time faculty member in blatant disregard of the contract–even when they were presented with the actual language.  The dean said, “I choose not to see it that way.”

A chair is being sued for harassment and retaliation.

A former chair (5 years ago) collaborated with his dean to attempt to have a full-time faculty member fired.  The matter ended in a winning arbitration for the faculty member and the chair being identified as “an agent of the district” by the arbitrator.  The dean was let go.

A chair allows the dean without question to take on bargaining unit work, displacing faculty who formerly did the work, in violation of the Ed Code, EERA, and HEERA.  The chair is not affected, however, because he has retained his share of the work for himself.

A chair has allowed the dean to have inappropriate interference with a new full-time faculty member’s tenure process.

A long-time faculty member and short-term chair quit abruptly, saying that she had had enough.

A chair pursued a personal vendetta against a long-term, full-time faculty member in her division with no basis in policy or contract.

There are more.  Division chairs seem to think they are managers–that they actually “supervise” their faculty.  Of course, they don’t.  Did you know that you don’t have to do anything your chair tells you to do?  Unless you hear it from management, you’re good.

There is no reason for us to have chairs if they are just “mini-me’s” of their dean.  Let the deans, who love to micromanage, do what they want–without having to pay for chairs who give lip-service to faculty and free rein to their deans.

Chairs need to read their job description.  They are not managers.  They have no power.  Their main role is to fight for and advocate for all their faculty.  They, by and large, are not doing that.

I propose that each division have a coordinator, instead of a chair, who checks off the schedule and coordinates evaluations.  If we don’t have the advocacy of the chairs, all we need is a numbers cruncher.  Let the deans do everything else.  Why?  Because they’re doing it anyway.

Now, I realize this seems radical.  And, it is.  But, I ask that you look closely at the culture of Cuesta.  It is now management-driven, with no checks and balances and no interference by the union.  The faculty need a raise more than they need division chairs.

Of course, you may have a lovely chair who does everything a chair should do–the way it used to be.  But, you are a minority.  All faculty deserve better than they are getting.

I welcome your comments.

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