The Moon Room

A Community Forum on Guilford College Faculty Life

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.

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.

Parameters to consider in hiring

February 29th, 2016

Clerk’s committee has compiled the following list of parameters to consider in evaluating positions. These would apply both to tenure-track and non-tenure-track hiring. We have compiled these from our past practices and from comparison with those used at other schools.

What we’d like from you is:

  1. Tell us whether the items on this list are appropriate. Are we missing anything we could consider? Is there something here which should not be here? Can you suggest different language or a different focus for a priority we have listed?
  2. Tell us which of these parameters should be prioritized, and which should be given less weight or eliminated.

Here are the parameters we’ve come up with, listed in no particular order:

a) Existing or future staffing patterns, including a list and count of current faculty, history of class sizes, and ratios like student credit hours per faculty member and majors per faculty member

b) Current extent of reliance on adjuncts and visiting faculty to cover the program’s curriculum

c) Enrollment trends over time, including number of majors and graduates

d) Departmental curricular needs (including general education courses provided by the department)

e) Consideration of the College Mission Statement and planning documents.

f) Personnel planning related to future retirements or possible departures of current faculty

g) Promotion of new programs approved by faculty

h) Recent departures or loss of program participants

Note: There will be no request for proposals for tenure-track hiring this year. Jane has decided that while we are in budget deficit, we cannot add people to potentially permanent positions. If your program has a need for additional teaching, please contact Beth about adding temporary positions to cover your needs.


UPDATE: We thought that last year’s solicitation for proposals for tenure-track faculty hires might be of interest. It is here: Position Request Memo

What I learned about the new consulting project

February 5th, 2016

People invited to meet with Art & Science for first campus visit – not all could make it

I and other faculty members of SPOC (formerly SLRP) met with the consulting group from the Art and Science group (website here: ) yesterday. I learned about this initiative along with the rest of you in the last week, so it’s come on quickly. Because of that, I thought I’d take some time to report on the process as I’ve observed it so far.

It looks like we (SPOC faculty members) are going to serve as part of their on-campus steering committee. The one-hour meeting stretched to two and a half with people coming and going as schedules demanded, so we covered a lot of ground.

My understanding of the service they provide is that it comes in several steps:

  1. collect information from the community (focusing significantly on faculty) about strengths the college has and initiatives or focus areas it could adopt in the future
  2. interview students in two main groups – admitted students who didn’t decide on Guilford, and students who expressed an interest but did not apply
  3. from the interviews, build a statistical model of how students would view our potential focus areas or initiatives
  4. for each of our focus areas or initiatives, give us a sense of whether (and how much) those would drive students from these pools of students (who are interested but did not come) to decide to come to Guilford

The methodology is statistically complex, and seemed like a reasonable approach, although they didn’t get into complex details, nor is this kind of surveying my area of expertise. The potential students they talk with are paid to participate in an interview of about half an hour. This interview is not just an interest survey. Instead, it presents hypothetical institutions with different sets of parameters to choose between, and students express their choices for these hypothetical colleges.  Guilford is not named as the sponsor of the research during the interview.

Their plan is to do the community research work very soon, over the next couple of weeks, and then come up with possible initiatives or focus areas to include in the survey, which they’ll share with us (SPOC faculty) and with the rest of the community for commentary.  Then, they’ll do the research part over the rest of spring term in two phases and come up with results (based on what they call a simulated decision model) hopefully by Fall 2016.

One concern I had with this work, one that I expressed to the consultants, is that I don’t think the faculty would be happy changing who we were or what we do based on statistical modeling, however accurate or complex.  One of the consultants then pointed out that often this kind of work takes one of two approaches. I’m paraphrasing, but this mostly what he said: One approach is to just be who we are, and hope that is attractive enough to students. This often leads to losing money. The other extreme is to try to figure out what students want and become that, which leads to losing your soul.

I think we’ve followed both of those strategies half-heartedly, and neither has gotten us where we need to be, and we may have managed to lose both money and maybe parts of our soul at various points along the line. One thing the consultants stressed was that they would not test ideas for new initiatives or emphases that we were not already prepared and willing to do, that didn’t come from who we are. So I would expect that the kinds of areas they’ll model will be areas we already emphasize to differing degrees, or areas we’ve already discussed emphasizing in the future. Examples might be experiential learning, social justice, an international focus and study abroad, problem solving, interdisciplinary learning, practical liberal arts, community engagement, student research and creative opportunities, social activism, athletics engagement, and others. The idea will be to figure out which of those things we kind of already do and kind of already emphasize would be best to focus on in the future, with the goal of enticing students who are interested in Guilford but haven’t been coming here to choose us.

I asked if our cost of attendance would be included as a factor in the modeling, because that’s been an area of particular concern to me recently looking at our budgets and enrollments. The consultants said that it was one of the areas they often include in this work, and we could include it if we didn’t choose too many other topics in the survey. Jane indicated in our monthly meeting today that she would like to have that topic included in the survey too.

After meeting with us, some of the consultants toured campus, and they met with a number of faculty. I came out of our discussion optimistic about what we might learn from the process. I’ve listened to many, many faculty and administrators describe new ideas and then say, “that’s what students want,” or “that will help us in recruiting,” without much basis other than optimism or anecdote to support those assertions. I’ve made those statements myself. This project should provide an independent and hopefully more accurate picture of which of the directions we are willing to go will bring us more quickly to being the thriving institution we all want Guilford to be.

Of course, I know that we’ve had a lot of consultants on campus in recent years. One colleague today said, “How can we keep hiring consultants when we can’t even put staples in my copier?” I think we all want to be a college that changes lives rather than a college that hires consultants, but they’re not necessarily unrelated. We’ve committed to this project, so it’s happening, and so far, there has been a strong push to get faculty into the discussions, which I think is very positive. Please take advantage of these opportunities. Having faculty play an active role will help ensure that we get the most out of this project than we can, and also that the directions it suggests we might most profitably explore are ones that come naturally from our values, interests, and community.


Strategic Planning Priorities

November 1st, 2015

The Strategic Planning committee would like to share with the community a set of ten planning priorities that it will use in its process over the next couple of years. These priorities come jointly from the Board of Trustees and President Fernandes, and they arose in part from the large community meeting the board held in Spring 2015.

Strategic Priorities 2016-2018


  • Increase enrollment
  • Invest in the student experience and assure student success
  • Develop dynamic learning opportunities


  • Build a campus community that puts Guilford College first
  • Establish an equitable system for employee compensation
  • Update campus facilities
  • Create revenue-producing offerings


  • Re-imagine and modernize our offerings to the community
  • Advance Guilford College’s public profile
  • Obtain reaffirmation of SACS accreditation by 2017

If you have any comments on these priorities, or recommendations for what we might do to serve them, please enter them below or contact any member of the Strategic Planning Committee. Faculty members of this committee are Nancy Daukas, Christine Stracey, Mark Dixon, Richard Schilhavy, Tom Guthrie, and Dave Dobson.

The Moon Room

A Community Forum on Guilford College Faculty Life