1. Robert G. Williams

    I like the Learning Collaboratively ideas and the inspiration they bring to the EDGE. Thank you Frank Boyd for that part of the update.

    But the quality of education in areas that require steady work toward literacy (social sciences, languages, +++ etc.) will take a downward hit it we get the 12/3 calendar shoved down our throats.
    How will you get buy-in for faculty having to scramble to reduce their high skill training programs into 12 & 3 week slots?
    Loyal as we are to Guilford College: How will faculty be able to honestly sell the college (to current students, potential students, alumni donors, future talent faculty & staff) if we see quality of training going downhill at Guilford because of the shortened semesters?
    New, New, New is not necessarily Better.
    The 12/3 may make advertising easier in the short-run, but if it undermines quality of training, the long-run consequences in the market will be harsh.
    I’m too loyal to Guilford College (since 1978) to remain silent on this.
    Robert G. Williams, Economics

  2. I would appreciate it if the president or senior administration would respond to the concerns faculty raised about the 12/3 calendar proposal last fall in forums and the department survey. This would reassure me that the administration’s proposal is well thought-out and that faculty feedback is taken seriously, even if it is not heeded.

    • Friends (both Robert and Tom) speak my mind.

    • Tom’s request is overdue. I support the 12-3 calendar change through the lens of my own discipline and circumstances. It would be help a lot for me to have meaningful conversations with my colleagues across the quad about what kind of work we can do if the administration would back up this proposal by addressing the faculty concerns. If this is to be the innovation, we are not empowered to collaborate on it until that happens. Every conversation will be a re-hashing of these concerns we don’t have answers for.

  3. I would really love to get behind the 12-3. I would. But right now it feels too much to me like “let’s jump off a cliff and we’ll learn to fly on the way down.” If we have a cool pedagogical vision that a 12-3 will let us actualize, then let’s do it. Mylene’s idea is the closest I’ve seen to that. But to say “let’s change the calendar and disrupt everything we do in the hopes that something cool will happen” seems very strange to me, especially since there are other ideas available. But for me to enthusiastically get behind the 12-3, I would need to have clear answers to the following questions:

    1. Arlene has said that having a 12-3 will not help recruit students. So why is there so much pressure to do this?

    2. To my knowledge, no one has addressed Dave Dobson’s concerns about whether we have the staffing levels necessary to ensure that all Guilford students have a meaningful three week experience twice a year.

    3. No one has addressed Maria’s concern about how this will affect the Early College. Will CCE be okay with it? How does this impact the fast track classes?

    4. No one has addressed the education department’s concern about how this will affect our student teachers who need to interface with the public school system. Will it have implications for students who are taking classes through the consortium (either our students elsewhere or their students here)?

    I think these are the same concerns Tom is talking about, and there are of course more in the documents he mentions, but I wanted to articulate these four specifically, as having some kind of answer for these would go a long way toward convincing me that we’re not just dancing blithely toward a mine field without thinking about whether there are ways we can avoid explosions. If I have missed documents or memos that address these concerns, I hope someone will let me know and point me to them.

    • Just want to put my comment into perspective. 12:3 will, by itself, not recruit students. It has to be a part of the bigger and integrated picture. This conversation is about one important part of the Guilford Edge…that which will engage students in collaborative learning. Deploying it without all of the other pieces and only for certain students will miss the mark.

      • Yes! Exactly. Thank you. “It has to be a part of the bigger and integrated picture.” That is exactly my problem with the 12/3 now; it is not part of the bigger picture. If there were a vision or a plan that naturally led to the 12/3, that would be different. The fact that they could take a plan that was *explicitly* and *intentionally* designed to be an *alternative* to the 12/3, so we could *avoid* the 12/3, that they could take that and say “great! We’ll do that *and* a 12/3!” shows how divorced the 12/3 is from the other pieces.

        And your point about “only for certain students” goes right to what Maria B and Will P (and others) have been saying about ECG and CCE. I don’t understand why a roomful of education experts with collectively centuries of experience, all saying “whoa, this idea has problems, and we think we can achieve the same goals in more productive ways” has zero impact. From what I can tell, generally people are excited about all the other pieces of the Guilford Edge, so it’s not like we’re deliberately being obstructionist. I don’t understand why we have to chuck the faculty handbook, shared governance, and consensus decision making out the window.

  4. As I understand it, this Wednesday the faculty will consider a proposed curricular change that is coming from the Academic Dean, President, and members of the Board of Trustees. This proposal is largely the same as one that went directly to the President. Both contain elements, namely the 12-3 semester restructuring, that has been considered and rejected by the faculty. We are told that financial imperatives require an immediate decision to assure the college’s future. However, the Budget Committee which provides broad faculty and staff representation has not been meeting for the last year or so? What has happened to our practices of shared governance?

    Too often, criticisms about “process” are used to mask simple dislike of a proposal. Full disclosure, I don’t particularly like this proposal. More importantly, I have little insight into which curricular changes would appeal to a broad swath of 18-year-olds, making me somewhat agnostic about the different proposals. I wish I could take greater comfort that some of my colleagues do think they know.

    Frankly, I see us headed for one big mess, one big enough that there is plenty of blame to go around. In the interests of accountability, I’ll start. I hope others will follow. I realize that even prior to my Study Leave last year, I’ve become less engaged in faculty governance in recent years as I’ve focused on my research and writing. I’m willing to redress this neglect. If asked, I’m willing to consult along with Jerry Boothby and others who’ve led the Budget Committee in the past when it did offer some measure of shared governance. There’s no reason we can’t resurrect a committee process that broadly reflects our community and ensures that our major financial decisions are made with inclusive input.

    If my faculty colleagues genuinely reach consensus on the proposal, then I’m certainly willing to put aside my own misgivings. However, I worry the faculty may accede to a faux consensus, driven by financial imperatives and a sense of no alternatives.
    Undertaking broad curricular changes without genuine faculty buy-in is a horrendous mistake. We can certainly do better.

    As one alternative, I suggest the Clerk’s Committee appoint a sub-group of faculty to review the various proposals made to date. This group should include both those who have advocated specific proposals as well as some who have not. I’m particularly concerned with the past under representation of our faculty of color as well as those who have gained expertise and attained recognition for their work in collaboration, including Bonner, PPS, and the Chemistry Department. The President should offer this group whatever parameters she feels are necessary. Give them at least 4-6 weeks to bring a reconsidered proposal to the faculty. At the very least, we will resurrect shared governance.

    I know there are consequences to a delayed decision. However, the costs of delay are less than moving ahead without broad faculty buy-in.

    We are currently celebrating our 180th anniversary. We owe it to those who sustained the college over those years to do our best today.

  5. Friends speak my mind.

    • Don Smith, on January 25, 2018 at 8:06 am, speaks my mind (as do others) . . . .

      Don’s four points are spot on and, frankly, for us to continue to move onward with this 12-3 idea, without at least having some sort of conversation around how to address these points, at minimum, scares me silly. After yesterday’s faculty meeting, I really don’t feel any better….

      Other than the massive train wreck it will potentially cause for our Education Studies students, who spend 100s (and I do mean 100s) of hours in the schools their third and fourth year (which, by the way, strikes me as funny in that NO ONE on this campus ever–OK, maybe rarely– recognizes these partnerships that we have supported for decades when we talk about community partnerships that exist/are thriving here at GC) I am esp. worried about losing the ECG.

      Trust me on this: other area colleges would LOVE to have our version of the early college at their campus. Having worked with school systems my whole “career”, it is apparent to me that if Guilford County Schools feels put-off by this new schedule they will, without hesitation, look elsewhere for a host. That, my colleagues, would be a sad and terrible thing for not only the students, but for our entire campus.

  6. All the above advice from practitioners with experience at Guilford College provides a convenient list of risks that need to be addressed before going forward with the calendar move to 12/3.
    For transparency and to help them in their fiduciary duties, Board members should all be given the link to this Discussion Area.

    There is an additional marketing risk that was not brought up in our meeting.
    Since that time, it has come to my attention that if the board decides to move Guilford College to a 12/3 calendar, it will be placing Guilford College in the marketing cohort group with Sweet Briar College.


    As an economist, this move raises two fundamental questions:

    1) What will this do to our strategic positioning in the marketplace for students going forward?

    2) Given Sweet Briar’s recent experience: How will Guilford College be able to attract and maintain quality teaching talent (excellent core faculty/staff) with this cohort to compare ourselves with?


    If these links don’t come through please see my parallel Marketing Risk email 2/2/2018:

    Robert G. Williams, Economics