The Oak Leaf

Faculty, administration optimistic about restoring relations

Trustee+Jordan+Burns+at+the+board+of+trustees+meeting+on+5%2F8.+
Trustee Jordan Burns at the board of trustees meeting on 5/8.

Trustee Jordan Burns at the board of trustees meeting on 5/8.

Abraham Fuentes

Abraham Fuentes

Trustee Jordan Burns at the board of trustees meeting on 5/8.

Kevin Johnson, News Editor

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Relations between Santa Rosa Junior College faculty and administration seem to be improving after months of discord. Representatives of the All-Faculty Association (AFA) announced at the May 8 board of trustees meeting in Bertolini Hall that contract negotiations with the district will reopen this Friday.

In her report to the board, AFA President Karen Frindell-Teuscher said the faculty union felt grateful for the opportunity to resume negotiations with the district and was optimistic about the outcome.

Frindell-Teuscher commended President Dr. Frank Chong for his efforts to alleviate the concerns raised by faculty that led to the Academic Senate’s vote of no confidence in the college’s chief administrator last month, stressing the importance of Chong continuing to fulfill the college’s founding principle of shared governance..

“We are looking forward to Dr. Chong’s planned restoration of the shared governance structure at this college and we are happy to be a part of those conversations,” Frindell-Teuscher said.  

The President’s Consultation Council (PCC), a body consisting of faculty, staff and student representatives, has played a role in bridging the gap. AFA expressed their appreciation of being included in the council’s discussions.

Dr. Chong referenced the PCC in his monthly report to the board saying that the weekly meetings were fostering genuine discussion about recently contentious issues like the budget, shared governance and interdepartmental communication.

“The PCC is a work in progress and we’re having difficult but necessary conversations in order to restore trust and improved communications,” Chong said.

Trustee Don Edgar, who was recently re-elected for another three-year term on the Community College— League of California Board of Trustees, said that the state of the college is strong despite what has been recently reported in local media outlets.

“I am proud and pleased to announce that, despite what you may read about Santa Rosa JC in The Press Democrat, we are still highly regarded from the Oregon border to the Tijuana border.”

Student Trustee Robert Martinez, who will continue in his role next semester, said that as summer vacation approaches it’s time to reflect on the high and low points of the past semester.

“It’s an understatement to say it was a tough semester; I think we can all agree on that,” Martinez said. “What did we do right? What can we improve on? Summer is a good time to sit down with people and air the issues—that way we can go into the fall and be more productive.”

President of the Academic Senate Eric Thompson said the body is encouraged by recent discussions. “We have a lot of work to do but I want to echo the comments by my colleague Karen Frindell-Teuscher and Dr. Chong as well as student trustee Martinez in saying that we are optimistic,” Thompson said. “We are very excited about the work that we’re doing collectively in the PCC in rediscovering shared governance.”

Among the agendized items was a motion to approve 2018-19 management compensation packages, which included forgoing a planned 1.56-percent pay raise to all manager salaries, an additional 1.56-percent cut for vice presidents and a 5-percent total cut to President Chong. The proposal to cut management salaries was made last month after an ill-received and now-reversed announcement to cut the majority of summer courses. Managers will receive four paid days off in lieu of the planned pay raises. The packages are expected to save the college $242,000 according to the Management Team Liaison Group. 

The board honored employee of the month Tony Sawyer, a help-desk technician, at the meeting. Sawyer trained three new IT employees after two positions opened last semester, often doing the work of three alone according to his boss, Manager of Information Technology Dan Exelby. Exelby said Sawyer made invaluable contributions to the department even after he lost his home in last fall’s wildfires.

Sawyer thanked his wife for her support, his colleagues for their hard work, and his God.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t thank my wife for her support through the times that we’ve been through. I could easily see any one of [IT department] up here receiving this award.” Sawyer said.

Spanish instructor Dr. Araceli Osorio made a presentation about her sabbatical to the Caribbean in which she studied diverse Spanish dialects. Osorio, who visited Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, plans to incorporate her research into her Spanish 1 section next semester.

“The purpose of my [sabbatical] was to expand my knowledge and understanding of Spanish language variations that exist in the Caribbean today due to Spanish and African historical and cultural influences,” Osorio said.  

Trustee Jordan Burns chaired the meeting in Board President Maggie Fishman’s absence.

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Faculty, administration optimistic about restoring relations