2018 -Winner of the “part-time” ally award
Administrator: Jeremy Estrella
Jeremy began his service as a division dean by joining the AEC — the subcommittee of the Educational Advisory Committee focused on improving the working conditions of “part-time” instructors. His knowledge of the many complex “moving parts” at PCC and in Higher Ed make his contribution there invaluable. But his interest is not only with the large system. Part-timers working in his division report being listened to with respect, and encouraged to approach him about concerns and problems. His nomination is one small sign of the difference he is making.
Full-Time Instructor: Kathy Casto
Kathy Casto has served part-timers as long as she has served at the college. Her retirement this year will be a great boon for her and the animals she cares for at the Oregon Humane Society, but a tough blow for students and part-timers at PCC. Working as Department Chair at Rock Creek and later Southeast Campus, Kathy has always been upfront with part-timers when it comes to scheduling, at the same time contorting herself and the schedule in order to accommodate the lives of her part-time instructors. Which means Kathy actually knows about the lives of the part-timers working in her department. In addition, Kathy supports part-timers dealing with “challenging” students and taps into the strengths of her part-time workforce by uncovering/fighting for paid, professional development opportunities for them. Kathy understands that part-time instructors represent the heart of the college, and her straightforwardness, her consideration, and her respect for each teacher’s unique abilities and talents has made her a powerful ally for part-timers across PCC.
Full-Time Instructor: Nick Hengen Fox
Nick is a tireless and passionate advocate for all in the PCC community, but as a full-time faculty member he continually goes above and beyond to give voice to the needs of part-time faculty members, especially in moments when the institution attempts to diminish or erase the essential contributions of part-time faculty.
Nick is the first to speak up on behalf of part-time faculty who are often hesitant to say “what about us?” He advocates for the inclusion and necessity of part-time faculty representation on every level of college decision making: committee work, assessment, administrative hires, and departmental and SAC meetings—and he raises the question part-time faculty are often afraid to ask—will there be stipends to cover that for part-time faculty? He gives us a voice when we are hesitant of our own rights or how our demands will be perceived when we speak from our own precarious positions within the institution.
As the coordinator of the Rock Creek Writing Center, Nick supervises many part-time instructors, and he works to make that environment collegial, supportive, and equitable for all; the additional work available to many part-time instructors through non-instructional hours in resource environments like the writing center makes part-time teaching financially viable for many of us, and Nick fights to assure that those positions remain an available option for part-time faculty members.
Another way in which Nick goes above and beyond in creating inclusive and equitable community for part-time faculty members is in his transparent communication style. Many pat-time faculty members find the communication around expectations and organizational structure at PCC opaque and designed to keep us confused and powerless. Within this environment Nick is someone who can always be counted on to offer clear, straight-forward, frank advice on institutional structures, expectations, atmosphere, and the often unwritten rules that part-time faculty members find particularly confusing in our precarious positions within the institution.
Nick has been an inspiration and a source of positive energy and encouragement within this institution and a tireless ally for part-time faculty at PCC.
2017 -Winner of the “part-time” ally award
Administrator: Jessica Howard
Jessica Howard, president of the Southeast campus, worked bureaurocratic magic to elevate wonderful, smart, and hard-working “part-time” instructor Laura Sanders to the position of Interim Dean. To become eligible to apply for a dean position, faculty have to have supervisory experience. The usual way instructors acquire that experience is through serving as department chair — a position available only to “full-time” instructors. Jessica spotted Laura’s talent, and figured out a way to have her jump the chair prerequisite. Laura will serve as interim for 2 years. She will need one more year as interim somewhere at PCC to apply for a regular deanship. We look forward to presenting an ally award to Laura in the future!
2016 -Winners of the “part-time” ally awards
Academic Professional: Heidi Edwards.
Heidi envisioned the first “adjunct awareness week,” designed the 76% buttons, participated in 6 of the 8 TLC meetings to debrief the roll out of the first 100 3-year-contracts, and represented PCC at the international conference of the Coalition for Contingent Academic Labor this summer.
Administrator: Alyson Lighthart
Alyson serves as a division dean at Cascade. While still new in her position, she joined the EAC task force to study the “part-time” faculty experience at PCC, and gave unwavering support as the report slowly moved through PCC process and channels.
Full-time Instructor: Ed DeGrauw
Ed served as an elected Federation officer until this Spring and as a parting project he took the lead in conversations with administration about their recent enforcement of a cap on tutor hours — an action with horrific impact on many long time “part-time” instructors. Thanks to Ed’s smart and persistent work, the administration agreed to raise the cap by 5 hours. Current officers are continuing his lead, with a focus on the legal basis for the caps.
2015 -Winners of the “part-time” ally awards
Academic Professional: Peter Seaman and Roberto Suarez
Administrator: Kendra Cawley
Full-time Instructor: Michele Marden and Nick Hengen-Fox
Special award: Sylvia Gray and the Project ACCEPT task force
Why the awards?
At PCC, “part-time” (job insecure) instructors experience their “place” in the academic caste system through a myriad of differences in their work lives compared to “full-time” colleagues. For example:
* Some people can speak their minds without concern they will lose their jobs, while others walk on eggshells around colleagues, reasonably anxious about what stray comment could mark the end to their precarious work-life at PCC.
* Some people collect regular and predictable paychecks, while others have to figure out how to get through a “paycheck drought” — without e en knowing if the classes scheduled for the next term will go, to provide an income on the other side of the drought.
* Some people know where their desk will be at a campus they have worked at for years, while others have their desks, phone numbers and mailboxes move around in strange and unpredictable ways.
With these awards, we recognize and express appreciation for the creativity and sensitivity of “full-time” colleagues, Academic Professionals, and administrators who work to make the irrationality and unfairness of this caste system visible, and who contribute to undermining or mitigating the damage it causes.
A hugely important step has just been taken by the EAC — an advisory committee made up of faculty, APs, and administrators from around the college. This is the main avenue for faculty members to participate in the governance process.
By a large margin, the members of the EAC voted on 12/9 to adopt the recommendations of the Task force on work place climate for “part-time” instructors. The vote at the EAC meeting was 27 in favor, 3 opposed, 2 abstentions. (Some members are administrators, and they were among the nay and abstain votes.)
The vote was put on hold at the insistence of the administration (and their lawyer) while we were in negotiations for a new contract. But the heroic chair — Sylvia Gray, long-time PT instructor in history before finally getting a FT slot — put the recommendations on the agenda of the EAC, month after month, symbolically letting the college administration know that the concerns were not going away. The report and recommendations are both of exceptionally high quality — well researched, clearly stated, and deeply thoughtful. The process took a long time, and many of the individuals who worked long and hard on the project are no longer with PCC.
The recommendations now go to Sylvia Kelley as interim District President. In a meeting at Cascade, she said she did not think that important initiatives at the college — like moving on the Completion Investment Council — would have to wait until there is a new District President. (1) We can hope that she will see these recommendations as among the important college initiatives.
If you haven’t looked the report, we recommend it as holiday reading. There are three “best practice” examples described there, and they are helping to guide the vision of our Federation bargaining team.
A basic principle of social justice is that as soon as enough people understand that the oppressive conditions that structure their lives are NOT inevitable — that a better world is possible — the status quo becomes intolerable. Looking at how other, comparable institutions have created ways to overcome the faculty caste system — impeding both the joy in teaching AND fully effective student learning — makes it clear that we do not have to simply adapt to the workplace structures at PCC. We can do better!
(1) as heard by Shirlee Geiger in the CA TLC 12/7/2015
CCSF has a structure a lot like our union, PCCFFAP — representing both part-time and full-time instructors as well as those in professional job categories supporting student learning.
The agency responsible for accrediting CCSF dismissed the elected Board and appointed replacements. This new board has directed the negotiators to propose such provisions as faculty lay-offs, increased class size for the instructors who remain, and new pay guidelines based on “productivity” (the size of a class.) Union leaders point out that these proposals are not in the interests of students, as they will not lead to increased educational quality, and will likely reduce the supports needed for student success. Indeed, the accrediting agency responsible for setting in motion the process leading to these dire circumstances could itself be ousted based on a recent vote by the community college Board of Governors.
The accrediting agency responsible for the PCC’s status (NWCCU) has issued us “recommendations” (on assessment of student learning, among other things), but so far the relationship has been more cordial than that between CCSF and ACCJC. Still, this is an interesting case study — a power struggle between a sister AFT-union, an activist accrediting agency, and a beleaguered administration, all in the context of declining enrollments and increased costs of living for instructors and APs living in a “hip” and densely populated urban setting…..
A constellation of circumstances which sounds disconcertingly familiar.
We will keep you updated as this drama unfolds.