Acting on a request from CBC Board Chairman Paul Jaure, CBC President Dr. Beatriz Espinoza invited the president-elect of the senate, Rose Skaife, to explain to the board the makeup and the functions of the 17-member senate.
At the board’s regular meeting July 18, Skaife told the board the senate was looking forward to a year of “mutual understanding and communications with the board and the administration.”
During her presentation, she outlined the senate’s history, purpose, membership, elections, meeting schedule and bylaws.
Despite her stated goal of trying to return some civility to the relationship, she could not resist telling the board, “We are not a fly-by-night organization. We have bylaws.”
She gave the board a copy.
The faculty senate, she said, is a professional group, dedicated to providing unity among its members and fostering and encouraging a learning environment based on integrity, trust, dignity and respect.
“We expect professional treatment and courtesy.”
During Espinoza’s term at the college — accompanied by a continued drop in enrollment resulting in staff layoffs — communication between the senate and the administration has deteriorated from chilly to vitriolic; with the administration charging the senate with deceit, and the senate charging it has been silenced and accusing Espinoza of ethical violations.
Unlike previous board meetings, in which a senate member addressed the board during the public comments portion of the agenda — to which the board is not allowed to respond — Skaife’s presentation was scheduled an hour into the meeting, which was delayed by an oversight and followed by questions from the trustees.
Jaure questioned her about the existence and availability of the senate’s minutes and the difference between a faculty association and a faculty senate.
The Southern Association of College and Schools (SACS), which is responsible for granting CBC’s accreditation, strongly suggests each faculty of its 800 members form an association, a senate or a union but does not specify which.
Jaure remembered that the CBC faculty group originally was an association, then changed its name to senate in 2009.
It notified the board of its name change but presented it to the board as an information-only agenda item, requiring no board action.
Because CBC is facing SACS’ 10-year renewal of its accreditation, Jaure suggested that the board approve the new name at its August meeting.
“I’m all for it; I don’t want to change anything, but let’s do it through proper channels,” he suggested.
Trustee Doug Arnold asked Skaife if the faculty senate’s meetings were open to the public, and were the meeting dates posted?
Skaife said the faculty was advised by e-mail, but admitted the senate’s website, where minutes and meeting times normally would be posted, was a work in progress.
“So the meetings have not been posted for the public?”
To her knowledge, she replied, no one from the public had ever expressed an interest in attending.
“We’ve had a student or two, occasionally,” she said.
Skaife assured the board that the meetings would be posted for the public as soon as the website was viable.
Arnold then suggested posting a hard copy of the meeting times in the administration building, as are board meeting notices.
The first meeting of the senate for the fall semester is Sept. 6.
Bill Clough is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or at beepic@mySouTex.com.