(continued from home page) our Faculty certainly agree with the Board’s general attitude of giving credit where credit is due. Unfortunately, there were several omissions/errors in Mr. Watter’s letter that need to be addressed.
During our general meeting, we moved point by point through Mr. Watter’s letter and allowed faculty to voice their opinions. They wanted us to draft a letter on their behalf and to share their comments with you.
Laying out the rationale for the raise, Mr. Watters explained:
- 1. “President Browning immediately worked toward removing the ‘warning’ accreditation status.”
In recognizing President Browning’s contributions, other people were overlooked, namely all the faculty members who worked tirelessly to update their department and program reviews. Furthermore, one of the major reasons for the “warning” status in the first place, was the deteriorating relationship between a few board members and the former College President/Superintendant. A board of trustees election and the hiring of a new college president solved some of that problem. Our faculty, carrying out Dr. Browning mandates, completed the rest.
- 2. “She effectively led the College through two years of avoiding lay-offs.”
The President and administration went to the board with a specific request to issue lay-off notices to several of our members in the counseling department. It was only after the pleading of our students, faculty, staff, and a promise from our union president, Dr. Alan Kirshner, that our unit would make financial concessions that the Board rejected this request.
- 3. "She declined a salary increase during the past two fiscal years in recognition of the budget crisis.”
We were never offered a “salary increase” and were led to believe that due to the fiscal crisis there were not funds available for raises.
- 4. “She participated in furlough days alongside the Ohlone Campus.”
Among other financial concessions, our members took a pay cut by surrendering their paid flex compensation. However, the faculty still voluntarily participated in their professional development activities. Because of our sacrifice, the college saved the money but did not suffer any decrease in services as our members showed up and did their required work without any financial compensation.
- 5.“She developed a Facilities Master Plan for the Fremont campus.”
The committee that worked with the President on this master plan was comprised of several faculty members. Furthermore, it will be faculty members that carry out the work of this committee over the long haul.
- 6. “She worked tirelessly and donated her time and money toward passage of Measure G."
Again, in the short term, this was a group effort and all members of the Ohlone family “worked tirelessly and donated [their] time and money toward passage of Measure G.” Furthermore, Ohlone College tax measures pass or fail based on the over all reputation of the college and this reputation is built up and based upon the performance of the faculty and staff over several decades. When polled on this topic, the citizens of the tri-city ranked the performance of the faculty as the primary reason for their “positive” impression of the college. Dr. Jim Wright reminded and thanked the faculty for this fact during the opening moments of our last general meeting.
After laying out all six points, Mr. Watter’s concludes “the Board believes the President has earned a raise.” We wholeheartedly support the Boards merit based approach to increasing employee compensation. This is great for morale and welcome news to our members. Mr. Watter’s goes on justify the high percentage rate increase in the President’s compensations stating, “In researching what an appropriate increase would be, we looked across employee groups and noted that Ohlone employees are paid at an average rate higher than their counterparts at other community colleges.” We can not speak for the other units, but in the case of our members this statement is completely false. Our faculty are paid at an average rate much lower “than their counterparts at other community colleges.” This is an easy mistake to make. Other districts in the Bay 10 provide healthcare for their faculty our district does not, so in order to accurately compare our salaries to theirs you need to take roughly $9,200 off of our salary schedule.
According to our research (which we will readily share with the members of the board) we are 8th out of 10 for the Bay 10, and 9th out 13 for the Bay 10 plus 2. In short, we are very close to the bottom, yet we are among the top 5 in having students successfully transfer to CSU and UC campuses, according to a recent report that Dr. Browning shared. Our part-time faculty are at the bottom in terms of compensation in the Bay 10. That is why we were so delighted to read Mr. Watter’s words:
“Having any category of employee, especially the President, at the bottom in terms of compensation is counter to our philosophy and is not what we want Ohlone College to be known for.”
Once again, we wholeheartedly agree with the Boards merit based approach to raises, and are delighted to learn that our Board of Trustees is now committed to bringing its employees up to “about the average for a single district in the Bay 10.”
Finally, we are certainly focused on the future and implementation of Measure G. Our members know that as the largest unit on campus, they will bear the brunt of the work on this important long term project. We hope that this letter clears up any confusion for the board regarding faculty contributions to the accreditation process, measure G, the development of the Master Plan, navigating the budget shortfall, and our unit’s low pay compared to the other Bay 10 schools.
Thank you for your time and consideration.