Sunday, May 4, 2014

Why Did the WCC Faculty Take a No-Confidence Vote In the School President Last Week?

Last week, Washtenaw Community College's faculty took a no-confidence vote in the President of the school. WCC, you may know, is funded in large part by our tax dollars.

Why did they do this? And why did the vote pass by a huge margin? I asked the WCC faculty to explain.

Read on to get their point of view, and also to find the link to their blog.

For those outside of Washtenaw Community College, I'm sure that the most recent press about the vote of no confidence in President Bellanca's leadership could be alarming, confusing, or even amusing. 

From the inside, issues with Dr. Bellanca's leadership have been building for some time. Faculty were prepared for change when former president, Larry Whitworth, retired in 2011. However, instead of getting a progressive leader interested in using the expertise of the staff and faculty, we were faced with a growing executive administration, staff and mid-level manager turnover, and a distinct shift in how conversations could take place on campus: marketing became the name of the game

About 18 months ago, it became more than obvious to the WCCEA union leadership that relationships were not improving and that seeking help from the Board of Trustees was needed. Quietly, requests for help were made by the WCCEA but ignored by the Board. 

After the unprofessional handling of Vice President Blacklaw's firing in March 2013, a united faculty sought help from the Board of Trustees again, but we were essentially told that we were afraid of "change." Bewildered, we took time to regroup, hoping for a shift in what was becoming a hostile work environment with a president who wanted to dictate instead of lead, with the Board co-signing every step. 

The growing number of executive administrators, recent resignations of three of our five academic deans, along with resignations of key staff throughout the college left us little choice but to bring forth a vote of no confidence to the faculty. With nearly 88% of the faculty supporting this vote, our issues are not imagined or vague as some on the Board want to believe. Now that the vote has occured, the WCCEA is ready to find a way through this and get back to what we do very well: teaching and learning. 

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Julie M. Kissel
Professional Faculty - English Department
WCCEA Representative

Following the vote of no confidence, the president of the WCCEA wrote this, in part, in a press release: 

Often,  faculties come to the point of calling for No Confidence Votes when their salaries or job security is on the line.  That is not the case here. What we are doing here is, I think, unique.  We are not focused on increasing our compensation from the school, and we are not asking for more time off.  We are asking for accountability from an administration that has failed to instill confidence and trust with the faculty.  People, whether they are faculty or not, are NOT comfortable speaking up.  People do Fear retribution.  Because of this, as faculty members at WCC, we are concerned about the health and future of the school… a school that many of us have served for decades.  

(Respectful) thoughts about the vote of no confidence and the situation at WCC are welcome in the comments.

Also--if you are thinking about running for the WCC Board of Trustees, now would be a good time to collect petitions!

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1 comment:

  1. I think it's important to share this new editorial from the Washtenaw Voice (school newspaper) reporting a rumor that the administration wants to shut down the newspaper. I don't know if it's true, and I don't know if it's related to the reporting they did on the no-confidence vote, but it's worth sharing: