The Moon Room

A Community Forum on Guilford College Faculty Life

Housekeeping information and communication page

April 17th, 2018

I’ve set up a page regarding the outsourcing of housekeeping with information and links to documents. That page is here:

Housekeeping

I’ve turned on comments there, so people can discuss or ask questions. I thought that might be perhaps less chaotic than a multi-step e-mail chain. I also thought it would be more accessible to Guilford staff, who can’t read the faculty e-mail chain on this topic, who aren’t permitted to write to the staff@guilford.edu address, and who might wish to take part in the discussion or make anonymous comments.

Regressive impact of the parking fee

December 17th, 2017

I did a little more work on the regressive nature of Guilford’s proposed new parking fee, following up on my previous post.

A flat fee will have a bigger impact on low-salary employees because it’s a larger percentage of their pay. Because some of our other costs (e.g. healthcare, capped social security) are also regressive, the parking fee becomes even more regressive in terms of percent of take home pay. Our lowest-paid employees are already taking home a smaller percent of their total compensation than our higher-paid employees, and the parking fee makes that worse.

Flat fees and fair compensation

December 11th, 2017

Flat fees, such as our healthcare costs or the recently proposed parking fee, provide a much more significant burden on low-wage employees than on high-wage employees. This is just basic math. When a cost or fee is constant, then it represents a higher percentage of income for a low-wage employee than for a high-wage employee.

Consider two cases below – a low-wage employee making $35,000 a year, and a vice president making $175,000 a year.

 

Both pay the same costs for Guilford’s healthcare. For an employee supporting a family, that will be $9390 next year. That cost is fixed, and therefore regressive by income. Social security tax is capped, making it regressive at high incomes, so high-wage earners above the cap actually pay a lower percentage than lower-wage earners. The VP pays more Social Security tax in total, but at a lower rate. Medicare is a constant proportion (not capped, so neither progressive nor regressive).

If we look at these employees’ listed salary, the VP makes five times as much as the low-wage employee. But the capped taxes and flat-rate costs exacerbate the inequality. After we deduct the Social Security, Medicare, and health insurance expenses, the VP takes home nearly seven times as much as the low-wage employee.

If we add another constant fee, say $120 for parking for the year, that money comes out of the take-home pay. The fee is the same for all employees, so that fee represents about half a percent (0.5%) of the low-wage earner’s take home pay, while it makes up less than a tenth of a percent (0.08%) of the VP’s take-home pay. By comparison, Medicare taxes are 1.45% of salary, or ~2% of take-home.

In other words, a flat $120 annual parking fee has an impact as much as seven times as great on our lowest-paid employees as on our highest. That’s textbook regressive. It represents about ten and a half hours of work for the low-wage earner, given directly back to the college, and only one and a half for the VP.

We can do better. For that matter, we should do better with our health insurance also.

Faculty and Staff Guilford Edge discussion area

November 29th, 2017

Please feel free to discuss the Guilford Edge proposal and its various parts here.

You may post anonymously if you wish. Comments from anonymous and first-time posters will be held by the site software moderation until I can approve them.

The Guilford Edge website is here.

Feedback collected by the Edge team about the changes to the semester calendar and weekly schedule is here.

The faculty Learning Collaboratively folder is here, the index with background information and proposals is here, and the working list of ideas prepared for the December 6 faculty meeting is here.

The first draft of a faculty plan for the Learning Collaboratively proposal, prepared by Clerk’s Committee, based on discussion at the December 6 meeting, is here.

The second draft of a faculty plan for the Learning Collaboratively proposal, containing updates after the December 15 faculty meeting, is here.

Compensation Committee Updates

September 25th, 2016

Compensation Committee has asked me to share with the community the following items. These are located on the Committees@Guilford Google Drive folder in the Faculty Meetings section under the September 28 2016 Meeting.

The items are:

  • The Faculty Salary subcommittee’s report from last May 2016
  • The updated recommendations from the subcommittee from September 2016
  • A set of slides describing the recommendations and the thinking behind them which will be presented at the Faculty Meeting on September 28, 2016.

Note that with the slides, there are a set at the beginning that will be presented, and then another group at the end that provide further information and background.

I have also updated the Salary Calculator I programmed on the Moon Room last May to reflect the new proposal. Feel free to go there and see what your salary might be under the new proposal.

Process for applying for study leaves

August 18th, 2016

From Beth Rushing:

If you are eligible to apply for study leave this year (to take study leave in the 17-18 academic year), please submit a request for study leave to your department chair no later than September 1.

Your request, along with your chair’s recommendation, will be due to me no later than September 15.

If the person requesting study leave is a department chair, they will submit their request to the most senior member of the department, who will then forward their recommendation.

From there, the requests go to Clerk’s Committee and then the President.

If you have a question about whether you are eligible for study leave next year, please contact Kelly Bull.

I’ve attached the Faculty Handbook section on study leaves, and am also happy to answer any questions you may have.


Handbook section on study leave:

5.240 Faculty Study Leaves

The College provides for full-time tenured faculty members to receive study leaves.

The following policies apply to full-time tenured teaching faculty only. Newly tenured faculty may apply for their first leave during their seventh year of full time teaching at Guilford College in order to take leave their eighth year. Faculty members who receive credit towards tenure when they are hired may apply for study leave during their sixth year of full time teaching at Guilford . Thereafter, tenured faculty may apply for leave in the sixth year of service since the academic year in which the last study leave ended in order to take leave in their seventh year. For tenured faculty with joint faculty/administrative responsibilities see “Allocation of Joint Faculty/Administrative Positions” (2.120, #7). Periods of personal leave will not count towards the six years of service, nor will they be basis for refusal of leave. Unpaid leaves of absence for grant supported research or teaching improvement purposes may count towards the six years of service. Tenured faculty members are encouraged to apply for a leave at all stages of their career. Such leaves may be taken for one or two semesters. Faculty on study leave are granted a maximum of $1000 study leave expense grant plus regular travel funds. See “Individual Grants for the Improvement of Teaching” (5.321).

Recipients of a one-semester leave will have no College duties during that period of time and will receive full salary and benefits. Recipients of a two-semester leave will have no College duties for an entire year and will receive two-thirds annual salary and will continue under the benefit plan for that academic year. These salary provisions are unaffected by external funding acquired by the faculty member.

The primary purposes of study leaves are scholarly activity and personal renewal and refreshment, benefiting the individual, the individual’s students, the teaching profession and the College. The leave may be used for the preparation of new courses, for post-doctoral study at a major university, for research and writing, for public service, for professional development, and/or for academically related travel.

The selection process is guided by an evaluation by the Clerk’s Committee of the written proposal submitted by the individual requesting a study leave. The proposal should be a detailed statement, two or three pages in length, describing specifically the nature of the contemplated plan, the methods to be used in developing and evaluating it, the time schedule for completion, and the anticipated benefit of the study leave activities to the individual, the individual’s students, the teaching profession, and the College. While study leaves are understood to be a dimension of College faculty careers, they are awarded selectively, not automatically.

Faculty members, departments, and the Academic Dean should make every effort to inform and discuss with one another the impact of anticipated faculty absences for study leaves, personal leaves, leading study abroad programs, and administrative responsibilities. When the Clerk’s Committee considers study leave proposals, the Academic Dean should inform the Clerk’s Committee about all anticipated faculty absences.

Institutional needs may take precedence over individual preferences. The Clerk’s Committee, in consultation with the Academic Dean and the President, will balance the individual request with the needs of the department and the institution. Although the quality of the faculty study leave proposal is an important component in the Clerk’s Committee’s decision, so too are other factors such as years since a prior leave, and departmental staffing needs.

Two copies of requests for study leave must be submitted to the department chairperson by AUGUST 15. Requests, accompanied by recommendations from the department chairperson, are submitted to the Academic Dean by SEPTEMBER 1. The chairperson’s (or most senior department member if the chair is submitting the proposal) recommendation should consist of at least one paragraph describing the department’s support for the leave and how the department plans to deal with the absence of the faculty member on leave and any other anticipated changes in faculty teaching responsibilities. Accompanied by recommendations from chairpersons and the Academic Dean, requests are presented to the Clerk’s Committee. The Dean forwards all recommendations to the President for final decision, after which the candidates are notified. Candidates must make a firm decision according to the stipulations of the letter recommending the leave as to whether to accept or to decline the leave. Candidates who have applied for outside funding which would affect the length of the study leave should stay in contact with the Dean and their department regarding the outcome of the outside funding request.

Upon return from the study leave, the recipient will submit a prompt written report to the Dean with a copy to the department chairperson, focusing upon the activities undertaken during the leave and projecting the benefits of those activities.

Faculty who are on study leave remain in every sense of the word employees of the College, differing from other faculty only in the duties expected of them during the leave. These duties, leading to professional growth and development, are of not less value to the institution than other faculty assignments. The decisions of the College, therefore, as to salary, raises and promotion are in no way affected by whether or not a faculty member has or has not been granted a study leave.

Individuals granted study leaves must return to the College to teach for at least one full academic year immediately following the leave year. Should the recipient choose to leave the College within one year following the study leave, repayment of all the monies advanced during the leave will be required. This will include salary, benefits and other monies including travel and other general expenses paid for or advanced to the faculty member during the leave. Normally, faculty members will be granted a study leave or a personal leave for only one year. Under unusual circumstances the college will consider personal leaves for an additional time period. The proposal will follow the procedures outlined in Faculty Personal Leaves (5.220) above. If any portion of the leave includes study leave, the faculty member must return to the college to teach for at least one year following the personal leave.

With the specific approval of the Academic Dean, part-time faculty may be employed to teach courses which cannot adequately be covered by other members of the department during the absence of a faculty member on study leave. Departments are encouraged, however, to formulate long-range curricular schedules which permit members to take study leaves with a minimum of disruption to the educational programs of the College as a whole, the departments, and students. Normally, it will be in the best interests of the College if a minimum of part-time instruction is required to fill gaps created by study leaves.

Notes from Jane’s report from the February 2016 board meeting

March 31st, 2016

Jane gave a presentation today on the February 2016 board meeting. Because there was only one scheduled presentation and it intersected with class time, a faculty member requested that Clerk’s find somebody to take notes and share them. I found me. Here’s my summary of Jane’s presentation, which included an accompanying slide presentation.

Jane began by reading a poem by Wendell Berry titled What we need is here. Here is the text of the poem:

Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.

Jane noted that it was particularly apt because it mentioned geese, of which we have an abundance at Guilford.

Jane said that although the challenges she’s faced since coming to Guilford have been difficult, she has enjoyed the work, and that Guilford is now poised for a renaissance, with lots of signs of a turnaround in progress. She shared with us a set of accomplishments and developments that she also shared with the board. I’ve categorized them as she did below.

Academic advances:

  • Approved a new bachelor’s program in cybertechnology and network security
  • Developing a new bachelor’s program in user experience and design
  • Approved a new master’s program in criminal justice
  • Approved a new bachelor’s program in sustainable food systems

Jane pointed out that these are in development, but most can’t be announced yet because they either require new staffing and resources or SACS-COC approval, and it would be unethical to advertise a program that was not ready to begin operation.

Strategic strides:

  • Website and marketing redesign is in the works
  • The Art and Science enrollment study is underway
  • The advancement division is being assessed and restructured
  • Ten strategic priority objectives in three areas have been identified, and the strategic planning oversight committee (SPOC) is working on details and metrics for these objectives

Memorable moments:

  • Renovation of Mary Hobbs with lots of alumna support. Jane said this could be a good model for future projects.
  • A gift of more than $300,000 to support the Friends Center
  • The adoption of a girl with significant health challenges by the women’s lacrosse team
  • An unprecedented successful football season, with nominations for national honors
  • The many fine speakers in the Bryan Series. Jane said we need to use this resource in our recruiting and other efforts.
  • The Every Campus a Refuge program led by Diya Abdo, which has led to refugee family members staying on our campus, and which is spreading to 41 other colleges in the U.S. and Canada. Jane reported that Diya has also been contacted by federal agencies about broadening this kind of effort.
  • Stephanie Flamini’s great basketball season, during which she reached a career 200 wins and was named the ODAC coach of the year.
  • Dennis Shore’s great work with the softball team, reaching 200 career wins this year.
  • The Godspell production, which drew rave reviews.
  • Guilford being named in a list of the top 30 sustainable college farms. Jane pointed out that the farm is very successful within limited means, which makes it a good model for our efforts.
  • A new cooperative accelerated degree program with the Elon law school.
  • The “Degrees Matter” program for adult students
  • Early College at Guilford being named the #1 public high school in North Carolina

Then Jane went on to describe actions and deliberations undertaken by the Board during its February meeting. These were as follows:

  • Remembering alums Howard Coble ’53 and Seth Macon ’40
  • Expressing gratitude to Carole Hunter ’63 for her work leading the Mary Hobbs renovation
  • Bringing the Vision for Excellence bridging campaign to an early close. The campaign raised a total of $9 million, which was positive but short of its goal. With the departure of Mike Poston and the potential restructuring of the advancement division, Jane and the board agreed that we would focus on general fundraising until new people and structures are in place.
  • Approving the freeze on tuition for 2016-17. For the first time in a long while, traditional student tuition will not increase next year, although there will be small changes in room, board, and fees to match increasing costs in those areas.

Jane then turned to issues of finance and enrollment. Jane described our situation as difficult but promising. Jane indicated that we had survived a $1.8 million budget deficit this year through a combination of $800,000 in spending cuts and the board’s approval of borrowing $1 million against our line of credit to cover costs and to fund new initiatives to improve enrollment. Fall enrollment numbers look positive for traditional students but not for CCE enrollment. Jane cited our initiatives with community colleges, some of which have held special Guilford Days for recruiting. She indicated that all community members have a role in recruiting and retention.

She described her view of our recovery as U-shaped, not V-shaped, indicating that it might take us a while to change course to positive growth. Although there will need to be some budget cuts for 2016-17, she sees us as near the bottom, and anticipates recovery and renaissance possibly within two years. She said we would experience (she hopes) “one more hard year” before completing our turnaround. Recovery depends on new enrollment, retention, and transfers. It may be difficult, and that we’re in for some more pain for the community next year, but she believes we are on the way to a brighter future. She said that the necessary cuts for next year should be clear by May or June of this year.

She also cited plans to restructure our debt, change our banking relationships, and borrow $20 million in new funds which would go to a variety of projects, perhaps most importantly to renovations in residence halls.

She indicated the compensation philosophy is on track and should be ready for when we have additional money to dedicate to salary increases.

The Board’s Buildings and Grounds committee met and discussed several issues, although they did not take new action. They discussed how to handle a new property gift on Arcadia Drive, how to handle our $16.8 million in deferred maintenance projects (much of which would presumably be covered by the new borrowing), and how to deal with requirements for Title IX and ADA. They also discussed management issues for the Guilford woods.

Board members met with students from the Integrity for Guilford group which has produced a list of demands posted online and publicized in the Guilfordian. Jane described this meeting as a unique emotional interaction which was not easy for trustees or for students. She said that despite a challenging discussion, there was universal praise for the students, their courage, and their message.

There were also two student research presentations shared with the board, one in biology and one in community justice. Jane thought that one of them might have prompted a new $25,000 gift to support science research.

Jane shared with the Board and with the meeting today her strategic priorities for Guilford, which came in three areas with ten objectives. She said that work will continue on SPOC to report on and reach these objectives.

Jane said that trustees seemed pleasantly surprised by the news and strategies she had shared. Although there are difficult challenges, she said the board was impressed by the fact that there were specific positive strategies proposed to meet each of these challenges. Her message was that we will need time to fix our problems, that we need to stay the course, and that it was her belief that with hard work, a way will open for Guilford to complete its turnaround.

Finally, Jane announced that our commencement speaker for this year will be the Rev. William Barber II, an award-winning activist and member of leadership in the NAACP. He has led the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina. Jane said he was honored to be asked to speak by the college, and that we were honored to have him.

Jane closed the meeting by reading the poem from Wendell Berry again, and then observed a moment of silence.

There were two questions from the audience. One questioner asked if we would have trouble with our SACS-COC reaccreditation because of ongoing structural deficits and because of lower-than-average salaries in many positions. Jane responded that she thought SACS would not be concerned with the salary issue, but that the deficits could be problematic. She was hopeful that the steps we’ve taken and the plans we’ve made to address the deficits would satisfy SACS.

Another questioner asked if there would be clear benchmarks for progress on our goals, and if they would be available to the community. Jane responded that she intended to create a “dashboard” available to the college community, and perhaps to the public, where our progress on our many strategic objectives could be reported. She indicated that these would be color coded (red for problem areas, yellow for potential concerns, and green for met goals) for easy interpretation, with detailed information also available.

Comments on college employment

December 15th, 2015

I am deeply troubled by systems of oppression, racism, violence, and inequities. I am grateful to all of those who work here to uncover, dismantle, repair and transform oppressive systems and actions into just and equitable systems and actions. I recognize and I participate in this hard work every single day on campus, in schools and, hopefully, in my thoughts and actions generally in the world.

I think one of the most significant actions we at Guilford College can take is to reform our employment practices. Not by supporting a “fire at will” mentality, but by ensuring that every person who works on this campus has a fair, equitable, supportive contract. As this is a “right to work” state, it is vital that we make a statement that supports workers and we can start by making our campus one in which all workers feel safe to voice their concerns, to be treated fairly in difficult negotiations, and to the rights of due process.

I am deeply saddened by our approach to making this campus less oppressive and racist when immediate actions against individuals can be taken because those individuals do not have strong contracts. I know I do not have all the information nor the full picture/context, but treating people humanely and fairly seems to be what we strive to do. Even if what I am responding to is an appearance of what ‘actually’ happened, it is a devastating one.

No matter what our current efforts are, I strongly assert my belief that standing up for the rights of all the workers on this campus is a step we can take without causing undue suffering, oppression, unfairness. I suggest we work to make sure that every worker is protected by a clear, strong, equitable contract.

— Julie Burke

[Julie originally posted this as a comment on another section of the site. I moved it to the main feed as a post with her permission.]

Policy changes for honor code violations

May 1st, 2015

Clerk’s approved a minor policy change for honor code violations. Clerk’s felt this change did not need faculty meeting time for discussion. The policy has been posted to the Beacon for review as described in the handbook. If you have questions or wish to lodge a request for discussion of the policy change (within 30 days), please contact me at ddobson@guilford.edu .

The policy change is here: Beacon article

The Moon Room

A Community Forum on Guilford College Faculty Life