Sept. 11, 2017 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Community College’s Faculty Council recently passed a resolution opposing the decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The DACA program temporarily shields from deportation undocumented individuals who came to the country before the age of 16. About 780,000 people have received DACA status since the program’s inception in 2012.
Council President Frank Conner said the Trump administration’s decision to halt the program will have an enormous impact on GRCC students.
“As faculty, it is our belief that Grand Rapids Community College is in existence to provide a safe and supportive environment for all people to learn, grow, and achieve their dreams,” he said. “We recognize that each person who attends our college is unique and deserves the respect and resources required to succeed as a student. DACA provides this opportunity to a unique set of young people who were brought to the United States as minors, and who frequently have negligible ties to the countries from which they came.”
Both GRCC’s board of trustees and President Bill Pink have issued statements in support of the DACA program.
“We support GRCC leadership and the board of trustees in their declarations opposing the position of the Trump administration,” Conner said. “We also demand that our congressional leaders act immediately to find a legislative solution ending the real and current damage this change in policy is having on our students, our community, and our nation.”
The Faculty Council is comprised of the officers in the Faculty Association and an elected representative from each academic department or area.
Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for more than 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses, certification and training programs, and workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCC’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, and at several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties, as well as through distance learning.
Greetings, Esteemed Colleagues –
I hope this email finds you well and rested, ready to begin next week. I recognize the idea of “beginning next week” is a bit disingenuous since many faculty work through the summer. Thanks to all of you that serve students year round. Your work is greatly appreciated!
Thankfully it has been a pretty benign summer with no big faculty issues to announce. While there are always smaller issues that affect individuals, I’ll not bother adding these to the length of this email but will share them at Faculty Council next month. Remember, your Faculty Council Representative and the biweekly minutes are an ongoing important source of information about the workings of your Faculty Association.
There are however a few larger pieces of information that I want to share.
I’ve decided to not have a Fall Faculty Association Meeting next week. I solicited input from the other Faculty Association leaders and received no compelling reason to meet. Everything you need to know can be shared in an email (this email) and everyone can use the extra time to prepare for our upcoming classes. Not having a meeting in the beginning of the school year is not uncommon for us and seemed like the best use of your time.
However, what I would like to do is have a couple open meetings in September, one during the day and one in the evening, where faculty can meet with me and other faculty leaders to share concerns, provide direction, and/or ask questions about any of the workings of your association. I will announce the time and location of these meetings the first week of school.
In addition, I also want to extend an offer to personally attend to any of your department meetings in the upcoming school year. I will also communicate this directly to the Department Heads and Program Directors, as well as reiterate this offer at Faculty Council. I would come with no agenda, but to simply listen to you and hear your thoughts, concerns, and input around our work.
Contract – It’s Posted Online
Hopefully you all saw Katie’s communication early this summer and are aware that the final language for the contract is now posted on the Faculty Association’s webpage at – https://facultyatgrcc.com/contract/.
As I’ve done before, I want to thank all of the members of the negotiation team, Faculty Association leadership, Faculty Council, and our Chief Negotiator Lisa Gloege for the hard work they all contributed to this endeavor. In particular, I want to highlight Lisa’s extraordinary work last semester in leading the effort to finalize the verbiage that is the contract. Negotiations are one thing, having a physical contract is another monumental task in itself!
As you all know, on the day after commencement, Dr. Bill Pink became GRCC’s Tenth President. I’ve had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Pink a few times this summer to discuss his vision for the college and how that might impact faculty. My primary focus with him has been twofold. The first is a continuation of my theme from last year which is the voice of faculty must be ever present in the decisions of this college. This year I’ve added to this rhetoric an emphasis on the role of faculty being at the core of why GRCC exists as an institution.
In my conversations with President Pink and Provost Chesley (with whom I also meet with on a regular basis), I continue to reiterate that all systems at GRCC exist to support student learning. If they don’t, they don’t have a purpose. To that end, each system must understand how well they perform impacts student learning and in turn the role of faculty. My goal is to have this be the lens by which we make decisions at GRCC and the reason faculty need to be part of that decision making process.
Of course a new president brings a week long inauguration celebration culminating in the formal investiture. You have received some information on the week’s activities. I want to make you specifically aware of the investiture.
The investiture of Dr. Bill Pink as the tenth president of GRCC will be on Friday, September 29th at 2:00 p.m. All faculty are invited and encouraged to attend. This will be a full academic celebration with all the pomp and circumstance it deserves. Along with GRCC faculty and academic leaders, it will include speakers and dignitaries from our community, business, government, and the higher education community.
Because some of you may teach at this time, Provost Chesley and I have made an arrangement that any faculty member who is teaching that wants to attend the investiture may do so without using any contractual mechanism for being absence from class. You may manage your class as you would for any planned absence, don your academic regalia, and commence with your peers (cake and punch to follow)!
I am pleased to announce for the first time the Faculty and Staff Centennial Scholarship had enough money to award a scholarship. This was an idea that was generated at Faculty Council and special thanks need to be given to Holly Christopher, Joe Hesse, Brian Daily, and David Dye on their Faculty Association committee work to establish this fund.
An article on this award can be found at the following url –
Once again the Faculty Association has reserved a time for all of us to gather with our colleagues and family to celebrate and enjoy some informal time together. There will be food (really good food), drinks, games, music, and a raffle. If that doesn’t define a party, nothing does. The details are as follow:
When: Saturday, September 16
Time: 12 to 4 p.m.
Who: Faculty (current & past, full-time & adjunct) and their families
Where: Palmer Park
1275 52nd Street
Open Shelter A
Picnic Area A-1
To RSVP: Go to: http://bit.ly/facultypicnic2017
Follow the Picnic link & let us know you’re coming by Sept. 2nd
And as always, IT IS FREE!
It’s been an informative first year as the Faculty Association President. The duties are extensive. The expectations are unpredictable. The successes are fleeting. The mistakes seem to be unavoidable.
And yet, what remains ever present is the dedication, passion, and determination of our faculty. It is a point of pride that you have elected me as your president. Please understand I do not take this role nor this honor lightly. While there is always an inherent tension (many really) when representing such a large and diverse group of dedicated professionals, my intention as a leader is to embrace these difference and to seek the dialectical solution that serves at the same time the individual and the whole, full-time and adjunct, classroom and non-classroom, and all the other instances when there is seemingly a difference within the same entity. I would hope that goal remains obvious, even when reaching it seems impossible
Ok, with me, even a brief email becomes long. I look forward to seeing a many of you as possible on Thursday.
Greetings, All –
This is my first semi-official email to the GRCC Faculty as your new Faculty Association President. This is semi-official because I’m not technically your president until August 25. Fred van Hartesveldt remains in that role through the 24th.
Regardless, I wanted to share with you what I’ve been thinking and doing over the summer to move into this new and exciting endeavor.
Right out of the gate I’ve got nothing. Well, not totally nothing. Fred and Jeff have been co-chairing the negotiations this summer. I’m not part of that team thus I don’t have an in-depth understanding of all the issues and progress. I have been getting some updates. I know it is moving slow. We have some agreements and in other places there is a big gap. Fred will be providing you will more detailed info soon. We’re a complicated organization and sometimes progress takes time. I remain optimistic.
My Role As President
While I shared my philosophy of leadership and of the community college during the election period, I want to return and elaborate on these principles. I think it is important to lay a foundation for how I will approach my work as president. I believe in the mission of the community college. I believe we are here to transform the lives of our students and the community we service. I believe in the professionalism and competency of the faculty. I believe we should work in an environment that acknowledges and supports the faculty role as the primary value-added service to our students. It is these beliefs that will drive my leadership and decision making.
To that end, I want the faculty association to continue to develop and facilitate an academic culture of critical reflection and open dialogue. This isn’t new, it’s imbedded in many of our systems. However, I’m not certain it has always been clearly articulated up front as a way of working together. Here’s a simple breakdown of how I see the primary elements of this model –
- Learning focused
- Faculty driven
- Evaluation of self
- Evaluation of practice
- Understanding of context
- Seek to understand why others believe what they believe
- Speak honestly
- Professional obligation to participate
Why is it important to outline something that we already do? It’s to hold our system accountable. It’s to have a metric by which we can evaluate the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors of the organization.
Ultimately I am a process person. I believe if you create good process, many problems can be eliminated. If we start from the premise that we are an academic culture of critical reflection and open dialogue, we can continue to create systems that place student learning first, coupled with the primary role of faculty.
Obviously I need your input and support. I believe in the power of community. Faculty Council is our constant forum for faculty interaction and decision making. I will encourage every member of Council to help me vet and evaluate the issues most important to our work and wellbeing. With that, each of us as members need to stay connected with our respective faculty council representative.
Of course settling the contract is paramount. As I said earlier, right now that is still in the hands of the negotiating team. If we don’t have a contract by the start of the school year, I am prepared to step in and work with our team to do what needs to be done to meet this need.
One issue that has been identified as a concern by many faculty is increased communication from the academic administrators. I have met with Provost Chesley to communicate this concern. I asked her to work with her administrators to identify each of their specific roles and connect them to a communication plan that identifies what should be communicated, to whom, in what form, and at what schedule. She has agreed to do this and will be sharing this new model early in the school year.
I believe in dealing with issues before they become problems. One issue we have before us is a new Faculty Association President (me) and a whole bunch of new academic administrators. Because of this, I asked Provost Chesley if we could convene a meeting with all her leaders and all the Association leaders to have an open conversation on areas that have worked well in the past and areas where there have been problems. We would then do our best to optimize those things that work well and mediate those things that don’t work so well. She has agreed to this meeting. We will be setting a date for early October.
We will also have new leadership at the highest level of the college. We currently have started the search for a new GRCC President and we have three open seats on the GRCC Board of Trustees. The presidential search process is underway and faculty are well represented. Both myself, as well as Fred, are on this team along with several other great colleagues. For the BOT, I am going to suggest the Faculty Association again hold a Q&A session with the five candidates running for the three slots. I will ask Council this Fall to approve this activity.
All that being said, at our core we are legally a labor union. Borrowing heavily from other sources, a union is an organized group of workers who collectively use their strength to have a voice in their workplace. Through a union, workers have a right to impact wages, work hours, benefits, workplace health and safety, professional development, and other work-related issues. Having support from the union to ensure fairness and respect in the workplace is one of the key reasons workers organize.
I believe in this mission and be assured I will do my best to continue the Association’s role in maintaining a work environment that benefits our needs, and in turn, the needs of our students and ultimately our community.
To start this new journey with a new Faculty Association President, we have a Faculty Association meeting scheduled for Friday, August 26 from 10:00 – 11:30 in room 348 of the Science Building. (The Music Building is finally receiving its badly needed renovation.) The primary focus of that meeting will be an overview of negotiations and any next steps. An agenda will be forwarded to you soon.
Thank you again for electing me as your next president. It is an honor that I don’t take lightly. I look forward to working individually with as many of you as possible and collectively representing all of you.
Enjoy the last few days of summer and I look forward to reconnecting on August 25 at the opening sessions of the college.
His colleagues describe him as a man of integrity, trustworthy, discreet, and honest. And while all these words definitely capture the spirit of Fred van Hartesveldt, we’re not quite sure there would ever be enough words to thank him for his fearless service.
Fred van Hartesveldt taught his first class in 1984 as an adjunct instructor. He has continued to be a wonderful asset to the English Department for more than 30 years. During this time, he has taught EN 101, EN 102, technical writing, journalism and political science. In addition to his teaching responsibilities and serving on other committees through throughout the college, Fred has served as the president of the Michigan College English Association and brought that annual conference to GRCC. More recently, he has served as the president for the GRCC Faculty Association from 2002 to 2016.
And while Fred complimented his department on their overall collegiality and the college for continuing to have an open door mandate, he says that the one thing that he likes best about his role as a faculty member is students. His passion for students has been evident as he continues to use best practices and innovative techniques in the classroom, such as focusing on questioning students rather than lecturing. “We put teaching first…” Fred stated as something that he values about the institution. We definitely see and honor that same value in Fred.
During the Faculty Association meeting on April 29, 2016, GRCC faculty surprised, Faculty Association president, Fred van Hartesveldt, with a thank you celebration for his 14 years of service. I reiterate that words cannot fully express how thankful we are for his continued leadership and direction.
If you missed the celebration or just want to watch it again, check out the following link: https://youtu.be/hjg_1VRLZkE .
“No one is more cherished in this world than someone who lightens the burden of another.” This quote (author unknown) easily describes the wonderful faculty at GRCC and their dedication to our students. In addition to lightening the burdens of students, GRCC faculty members are also committed to upholding our vision – as a college of distinction that inspires students to meet the needs of the community and the world.
Faculty members serve this college in many other areas, including college, student, and community service; professional development, and a variety of additional projects, committees, and innovative best practices. GRCC prides itself on the values of excellence, diversity, responsiveness, innovation, accountability, sustainability, respect, and integrity. All of these values can be seen in this year’s retirees.
Combined, our retirees have a total of over 250 years of service to Grand Rapids Community College, and each one has left a unique imprint on the faculty, staff, students, and college as a whole. Retiree David Dye says, “I will miss the enthusiastic students and the hard working, thoughtful, and witty colleagues of our college.” We too will miss the enthusiasm, thoughtfulness, drive and wit of all of our retirees.
The Faculty Association thanks you for your years of service and dedication to our wonderful institution.