Florida Keys News
Friday, January 24, 2014
Survey never should have happened
Gueverra: "We have moved on"

An unauthorized and unofficial survey of the Florida Keys Community College president undertaken by a minority of the faculty members was not sanctioned by the institution's governing body, and will not be placed into his file.

College President Jonathan Gueverra's actual evaluation will take place between the March and April meetings of the institution's board of trustees.

The confusion seems to have come about as a result of timing issues regarding a regularly scheduled college climate survey undertaken last fall.

The Faculty Council was hoping to have its input incorporated into the survey, but due to timing issues, this was not possible as the deadline for submitting suggested questions had already passed. At this point, the council set about putting together its own evaluations of all administration members, including the president.

At the time, the Faculty Council president was Dawn Ellis, who stepped down from that post, but not her job as a computer science instructor, following the brouhaha created by the survey's release. The survey was released to all full-time faculty via email on Dec. 5.

Prior to the drafting of the survey, the Faculty Council had brought the idea to the provost, Brittany Snyder, who suggested the members consider the differences between an official evaluation and a survey as they developed this tool.

Gueverra, on Wednesday, said that the issue may have developed as a result of a feeling among certain members of the faculty that they were "under attack." There are 26 full-time faculty members at the college.

"Obviously, there was a lack of communication between all the parties about this," Gueverra went on. "I don't know why the nine or 10 people, representing less than half the full-time faculty, took part in the survey. However, we live in a civil society where there are rules. If you don't like a rule, you try to change it. You don't just go and break them."

Gueverra said that no disciplinary action will be taken as a result of the breach of protocol, but he did arrange for a Jan. 16 meeting between himself, Provost Snyder and Faculty Council President Sharon Farrell and Vice President Susan Abagnale, resulting in a memorandum sent out to all the pertinent parties on Jan. 19.

In the memorandum, Gueverra and Snyder laid out what they saw as faculty member concerns, and the steps being taken to address them.

"Over the past 18 months, we have successfully addressed critical faculty concerns ... including enhanced security, improved custodial services, increased funding for faculty professional development, and new computers for the faculty," the memorandum reads. "In addition, the college has invested in improved IT infrastructure to improve Internet speed on campus. ... However, you conveyed that the faculty feels hopeless. We are surprised, concerned and determined to understand why such hopelessness exists and will attempt to change this trend."

The memorandum also lays out a number of mutually agreed upon steps that will be taken to clear the air between the parties.

"Faculty Council bylaws need to be revised and updated," the memorandum goes on to say. "In order to ensure the bylaws do not conflict with existing college policy and procedure and in our efforts to create a true shared governance model, a committee which includes faculty, a staff representative and an administrator, should review the current bylaws and propose/recommend a new set of bylaws."

Asked about this development, Gueverra said this needs to be done because: "They were breaking their own rules with regards to the way they hold meetings and communicate between themselves."

Elsewhere in the memorandum,

• "Abagnale will be appointed to serve on the FKCC Foundation Board.

• "Faculty Council will send a copy of its minutes for each meeting to the provost and president."

• "Meetings between the president, the provost, and the faculty council president and vice president will also be recorded, and official minutes will be kept as a means of ensuring that recommendations and resolutions are memorialized and property documented.

• "The campus will receive an email alert whenever minutes of the college's leadership team/executive council meetings are placed on the J Drive."

• "Faculty Council will invite administrators on a rolling and regular basis to its monthly meetings."

• "Faculty Council recommendations shall be presented in writing on a form to be developed jointly by the faculty council and the provost. This new form must be approved through the normal approval process at the college.

• "We look forward to continuing our conversation regarding employee compensation."

College spokeswoman Amber Ernst-Leonard said that the forms for the president's actual evaluation will be handed out at the board of trustee's March meeting, and the results disseminated and discussed at the April meeting.

Both Sharon Farrell and Susan Abagnale declined to be interviewed for this story, but Gueverra insisted that any issues between the faculty and administration are being handled.

"Please don't bash my faculty over this," Gueverra also said. "We've all moved on from this already."

tschmida@keysnews.com.

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