Here's the email I sent to my colleagues. Yes, I violated my own precepts by emailing a manifesto. So be it. I'll take my lumps....
After our division meeting on Friday and reading some information from other divisions, I walked my dog and developed these thoughts. Maybe its a personal wake up call to myself.
I hesitate to share them via email, as that is not a great way to communicate ideas like this, but here goes. If you want to chat about this in person, I welcome the opportunity. If you want to do so electronically, let's avoid email and use the EdCC Faculty group in Facebook. Your students use Facebook, so you might as well learn.
I feel privileged to work with all of you and share this in the spirit of helping us all get through our current circumstances.
The college budget crisis is real, and needs to be seen in the perspective of sustainability. Any organization that spends more resources than it receives is doomed. Depending solely on state support is a suicide strategy.
The college needs enrollments, students. Do everything to increase that overall, and in your classes. Ask them what they want and give it to them. Classes are what provides revenue to the college. Classes need instructors. See yourself as a revenue generator, not as a cost, and convince your boss of that fact. Convince them by the number of students enrolled in your classes, your programs. Convince them with your graduates, your victories, your students who have success stories.
Faculty will probably have to choose between doing more work for the same amount of pay, or doing the same amount of work for less pay. We may end up with more work for less pay (or no work and no pay) if we act like the problem and not the solution. I prefer more work for the same pay.
Extra things we used to get paid for will diminish or disappear. Get used to it. Volunteer to help. Make yourself indispensable. Make yourself flexible. The more you are valued, the more you can do, the better off you will be in the long run. Think of your students and the college as your customers. Give them more than they pay for. This is your only source of long-term job security.
It's better to cut support for administrators and faculty than it is to cut support for students.
To argue that we need to preserve 'Academic Quality' (or frankly, most other "values") is a losing strategy, especially if that means low enrollments, high costs, or just being a pain in the butt.
The seeds of destruction (inefficiencies, laziness, poor responsiveness to students, self-centeredness) have been sown in the good times. The good times are over, and we need to get over it. The seeds of growth, innovation and adventure are sown in the tough times. The college will be a different place one, three, five and ten years from now. We can control that direction if we listen to what the students want, if we anticipate what they will need and we build the network that provides it.
It's time for our classes to be insanely great. It's time to rethink what we do, how we do it, when and where we do it. You'll get paid for this by keeping your job, or by building a new one.
Students come to college to earn credentials first, be part of a network (community) second, and to learn things, lastly. Help them with all three of these. Ultimately, they will determine how we survive, not the administration or the state government, or, especially, the union.
Don't expect too much from your administrators. They are facing the same problems we are, with the same lack of emotional support. They are scared, too. They don't have answers and, if it seems like they are making it up as they go along, that's probably because they are. Help them.
Some of us probably won't be here in the near future. Some may decide they have had enough fun. Some may not like what their choices are. Some may have to do things they don't want to do. Some may be told that the music has stopped playing and they don't have a chair to sit in. Uncertainty is the rule here. Help each other. Network, network, network. Talk. Don't email or write manifestos. Talk. And, listen. And, listening is not just waiting to talk. Really listen.
Focus on what you can control, your behavior and your communication with others. Gestures count. Little things add up. Your are responsible for your own morale. Be nice. Mean people suck. Cynicism, rumor-mongering, finger-pointing, negativity and jealousy are killers, not healthy and contagious. Avoid those who are infected with these diseases. Choose health and life.