Senate News & Highlights
Welcome to 2021-22 from the Foothill Academic Senate President
I suppose it is conventional for the Academic Senate President to welcome the faculty back to the start of another academic year...and one is coming right up...and yet so little about this past year has been conventional, it’s hard to know what the word means anymore. I am writing to you once again from my “remote office.” It has now been 18 months since I have used my on-campus office, taught in one of our physical classrooms, attended a senate meeting in the Toyon Room, or grabbed coffee from KJ’s. I did visit campus a couple of weeks ago, and was struck by how quiet it was, and how “remote” our physical campus has become from all of the work we all continue to do! A very odd sensation. I imagine not many of you have been back to campus in all this time either, and I am pretty sure our Foothill community is still spread out far and wide geographically even as we start Fall 2021.
During this great diaspora, it can be difficult if not impossible to get information consistently. Like many of you, I have more questions these days than answers and I am concerned that in the absence of reliable information, misinformation will thrive. Below I would like to share with you some information from discussions that have taken place this summer, and some of the information I have for fall, however please note that information can and does change rapidly. For the most up to date information please reach out to your dean.
What I do know is that our campus continues to operate under a phased “Return-to-Campus" plan. While still a great majority of fall classes are only being offered online (either fully asynchronous or with some/all of the instructional hours scheduled in Zoom), and the majority of counseling appointments will also continue on Zoom, there are many more on campus, face-to-face classes scheduled for this fall than in any quarter since the start of the pandemic (only faculty who wished to return to the physical classroom were scheduled to do so), and a greater number of on-campus student services. Once the dust settles on the final fall schedule (after last-minute section additions and cancellations due to enrollment demands) I think we’re probably looking at just under a 35% “return” (meaning 35% of our “normal” face-to-face/on-campus classes, based on a comparison of Fall 2021 to Fall 2019).
I can imagine you are like me in wondering if this is the Foothill of the future, or if there will be a “great return” of students, faculty, staff and administrators coming soon (our Board has indicated they are hopeful we’ll see this by Winter 2022), or...??? So many unknowns, and still so, so many indicators in our society that we are going to be living with the implications of the pandemic for some time still. Our enrollment is frighteningly low, and we are now looking directly at the reality of becoming a “basic aid” district in the very near future if this trend continues, with so few understanding what that even means or what changes it will bring to our funding, programming, services, etc. It is a time of stress unlike any of us have ever seen before, and yet our collective resilience is stunning. As a faculty we have maintained our steadfast focus on the needs of our students and our commitment to equity, and we continue to grow our expertise in exceptional online instruction and high-touch counseling and other support services in our virtual campus. I am certain we have all seen the many silver linings of this mandated shift online, while we also know there are students (and faculty) who are desperate for the in-person, physical connection and an on-campus college experience.
Perhaps it will seem paradoxical to how I started this letter to tell you that I am hopeful about the year ahead. I am hopeful because this swirl and chaos has engendered important discussions this past year about what is at the core of what we do as educators. We have and continue to challenge ourselves to not just do differently, but think differently. I have heard many people talk about their experiences during the past year and a half. Some have found the experience made them feel more distant from their students and each other, while others have valued the ease of access and the glimpses into the lives of students that were often more intimate and immediate than can be seen in the classroom. It’s one thing to understand abstractly that a student is managing childcare for two young children. It’s another to see one of the toddlers crawl into his lap while conferencing with him. I am hopeful for that student, and his toddler, and for all of us.
I am also hopeful that we can continue to build on the work of last year to engage all Foothill faculty in the reflection, problem-solving, visioning, planning and implementation that we are most certainly going to be engaged in through the academic senate this year in the context of all that’s going on, and especially as we “dig in” to the development of our Equity Action Plans in Academic Senate and our subcommittees, the College Curriculum Committee (CCC) and the Committee on Online Learning (COOL).
If you are new to Foothill, I first want to extend an especially big welcome to you, and also to invite you to reach out to your division senators and/or the senate officers so we can get to know you, and share some of the opportunities you have to get involved in these conversations. If you are not new but have not been actively involved recently in senate business, I also invite you to reach out. Now more than ever we need to hear from every full-time and part-time faculty member in every division to help guide the academic senate in our policy and practice setting at our college and district. Regular senate meetings take place every other Monday starting Monday, September 27th, and run from 2-4 p.m. Meetings are always open to the public and this year we will offer both on campus and Zoom options for attending. Agendas with Zoom links and supporting materials are always posted at least 72 hours in advance on our website. Please feel free to reach out to me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org) or one of the other senate officers (Paul Starer, Executive Vice President, email@example.com; Eric Kuehnl, Vice President of Curriculum, firstname.lastname@example.org; and Robert Cormia, Secretary/Treasurer, email@example.com) or find the name and contact information of your representative (division/area senators) on the Membership page of our website, if you’d like to know more. I also anticipate restarting both Zoom and on-campus academic senate office hours (last year I called these “Thursday Thoughts”) and hope you will join us regularly.
Again, please find below a few updates you might find helpful as you put the finishing touches on your fall syllabi, and get ready for the fall quarter. Please also be on the lookout for regular announcements and updates coming from me and/or your senators (division/area representatives).
Wishing you all the best for a wonderful start to the new academic year.
COVID/Return-to-Campus Planning Update
Kurt Hueg (firstname.lastname@example.org), Associate Vice President of Instruction, will be hosting an information session for all faculty this Wednesday, September 8 from 10-11 a.m. (on Zoom) to give the most up-to-date information on return-to-campus planning, and discuss campus policies, including masking policies, student disciplinary procedures and the new FHDA Vaccination Policy (BP 3507), that are most relevant to faculty returning to the classroom and campus spaces. If you are planning to be on campus for any number of hours for fall, I encourage you to attend or watch the recording.
We expect to hear soon guidance for Winter 2022 scheduling and encourage all faculty to be in communication with your deans and/or department chairs with questions.
Shared Governance Updates
As many of you know, the fall quarter generally entails the initiation/kick-off of the governance meetings, with a governance summit held generally the week before classes start. This year, due to the Academic Senate’s and the Community & Communication (C&C) Council’s recommendation to convene a Shared Governance Taskforce, approved by President’s Nguyen and chartered by the Advisory Council in May, and launched in June, governance is in flux and we do not yet have an agreed-upon structure for governance for the start of the year. Leaders from ASFC, Classified Senate, Academic Senate and members of the President’s Cabinet are meeting weekly to develop a transition plan for fall while the Shared Governance Taskforce continues its work with a goal of developing a new shared governance structure by January 2022. We are still anticipating the need for many faculty to step into governance work during this transition time, and will let you know soon the opportunities to volunteer!
Support for Fall Course Prep
As a reminder, our amazing Online Learning Office continues to provide many resources, webinars, brown bags, and office hours for all faculty. I would like to especially highlight their Canvas site: New Quarter Course Launch Site, which provides a checklist and guidance for setting up a new Canvas site (can be used as a course support for fully face-to-face classes in addition to hybrid and online classes), and creating student-centered syllabi and Canvas pages, and also some suggested language for Welcome Letters to your students to send in advance of the first day of classes (often VERY welcome by students). The Online Faculty Handbook is also a great resource to come back to frequently. If you have trouble accessing the site or have further questions contact the Online Learning Office.
New Land Acknowledgements – Please feel free to include on your syllabi if you wish!
The Muwekma Ohlone Tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area has provided Foothill College with a formal land acknowledgement for use in Foothill College meetings, on our websites, on our syllabi, etc. You can find short and long versions, as well as a suggested email signature here. If you have any questions or concerns about the land acknowledgements or their use, please let me know and I will try to facilitate finding the answer for you.
Upcoming Changes to the Bookstore
In October Foothill and De Anza will be switching to a vendor (contractor) model to manage the bookstores on both campuses. A communication is coming soon about what this switch entails and how it will affect faculty adoptions and student access to materials. Please read this communication carefully and reach out to your dean with any questions.
Upcoming Equity-Focused Professional Development Opportunity! - Starts September 10th!!
This fall, faculty have the opportunity to join the California Virtual Campus and Online Network of Educators for a professional development series that will prepare you to design and teach more equitable online classes – Fall into Humanized Online Teaching: A Pathway to Equity. To find out more and register, visit https://onlinenetworkofeducators.org/fallintohumanizing/.