Academic Senate ranks new, replacement faculty requests

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Academic Senate ranks new, replacement faculty requests

Sierra Shelton, Opinion Editor

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The Academic Senate released its faculty rankings Wednesday after 10 departments presented requests for new and replacement faculty hires last week.

In past years recommendations were handled by department heads. However, this semester they will be handled entirely by Interim Superintendent-President Helen Benjamin.

“I have a few weeks left and I am trying to take advantage of every opportunity,” Benjamin told the senate.

The rankings were voted on a ballot in three rounds.

Ranked first was one replacement for the nursing department, with second and third being one replacement for medical imaging sciences and business administration, respectively.

The lowest placements were two hires for English and one for the music department.

Last week, the nursing department gave a presentation explaining its lack of staff and difficulty meeting the accreditation standards with the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing and the California Board of Registered Nursing.

Many of the faculty requested replacements in preparation for upcoming retirements.

During its special meeting held Oct. 15, the Board of Trustees proposed the introduction of the Supplementary Employee Retirement Program.

The program serves to lower the current $3.2 million deficit by offering long-term employees retirement benefits, leaving understaffed departments at risk of more strain on their programs. 

“We saw it last time, the retirement happens before the replacement comes,” said Senator Robin Goodnough, representative of the School of Modern Languages. 

Goodnough recalled losing up to half of the faculty the last time SERP was implemented. 

The departments that requested consideration expressed the ongoing difficulty of hiring and retaining adjunct faculty, and retirement incentives will exacerbate the situation. 

“I had just sat through the presentations to be able to point out those departments that are finding it virtually impossible to find adjuncts,” said Academic Senate President Patricia Stark, who personally addressed the board regarding the requests and recommendations. 

The medical imaging science department was at risk for having only one full-time faculty member following retirement in Spring 2020 as stated in a follow-up Q&A form sent to all senate members. 

The English composition and literature department has been down five faculty member positions since 2016, but expects to lose another when Associate Professor Sandy Starkey retires this semester. 

The Academic Senate plans to further discuss SERP and its effects on employees, faculty and students at their next meeting on Oct. 23.

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