SERVICE Narrative

Nearly from the beginning of my career at SLCC, I’ve sought the chance to do institutional service. In part, I think, this is because I was curious about how a community college worked, where the faculty as a whole fit in, and what I might have to offer. Over the course of my tenure at SLCC, I’ve served as a senator twice, the chair of the Senate (College) Curriculum Committee, president of the Faculty Senate, and president of the Faculty Association. I was the second director of the FTLC. In concert with many other faculty, when I was the president of the AFT local,  we organized a successful drive to affiliate the Faculty Association with AFT. I cite these leadership roles, spaced throughout my tenure here at SLCC, to say that, over the course of my work here, I have had many opportunities to exhibit leadership as a faculty member.

I’ve had ample opportunity to consider my own philosophy of what it means to lead, particularly to lead as a faculty member. From my experience, I’ve learned that leadership always derives from ethos, one’s ability to commit and to follow through, to carry out the actions and initiatives one has pledged to do. It’s mutually reinforcing, too: people who, because of the ethos of the leader, place their faith and trust in that person, allow the leader to more effectively carry out those actions and initiatives. I believe also that leadership is not always located in official positions. The ethos I’ve described carries forward into all the work a person does. I have tried always to practice leadership that is principled, collaborative, inclusive, and based upon relationships that are built over time.

Beyond the formal leadership positions I’ve held, I believe that in my service I’ve led in a number of ways and in many locations.

Within the department:

I’ve practiced formal and informal mentorship and partnership with my colleagues, both full- and part-time. I’ve provided access, by this time, to countless faculty colleagues to my online courses, so that they can observe and use materials that I have developed. I’ve collaborated with many faculty members on small and large projects–writing projects, assessment projects, curricular projects, initiatives. I’ve mentioned many of them in my teaching and professional activity narratives.

As one of the two leads for the ENGL 2010 Online Plus redesign, I’ve worked closely with part-time and newer faculty. At this point in our model–we’re in our fourth semester–we’ve worked closely with six part-time faculty (three of whom have gone on to full-time jobs in higher education), and a seventh is coming on board in the spring. Moreover, Benjamin Solomon, one of the current co-leads, began as the first part-time faculty member in the model. I’ve had the opportunity to work very closely with him, which has been a privilege and a joy, and I can say that he is a terrific co-lead. It’s clear that this model allows faculty, full- and part-time, to flourish as teachers working within a instructional team. I am particularly proud of my leadership in building and sustaining this collaborative teaching environment.

I’ve taken initiative in carrying out curricular projects that had not been undertaken before. For instance, as I’ve mentioned, I took the lead in putting several creative writing courses online, course that were on our books but which we had a hard time offering because they wouldn’t carry. In my stewardship over these courses, I also took them through the curriculum process so that they received their HU general education designations for the first time. As we developed the Writing Certificate of Completion, I designed and authored, in collaboration with others, ENGL 2500 (Grammar and Style) and ENGL 1820 (Publication Studies). Last year, when a number of courses with HU and DV courses had become stalled, for various reasons, in their five-year general education reviews, I took the lead in working with various faculty in the department to get the courses through the process. I was chosen by the Associate Dean to do this work, in part because he trusted my ability to carry projects through to fruition, and because he knew that I would be able to bring the faculty’s work to successful conclusion.

Last year, I worked closely with the Associate Dean to plan and carry out our Regents-mandated five-year program review. I worked with our external reviewers to plan the site visit, gathered documents from the department to provide evidence of our good work, and wrote a self-study narrative to aid our reviewers as they prepared for the site visit. I organized meetings with various groups: faculty who had leadership in various curricular initiatives or stewardship over particular bodies of curriculum; faculty from our Writing Certificate of Completion; part-time faculty; students; and the entire department. At the outset of planning this retreat, I suggested to the Associate Dean that we use the occasion of the upcoming report from our external reviewers to stage a planning activity with the department, such as a retreat. As of this writing, the department is planning a retreat, with the report from our external reviewers as one of the key documents.

I’ve taken leadership roles in planning and carrying out assessments within the department, and I’ve participated in others. I would highlight my role in instigating, organizing, and drafting the assessment plans for Online Plus ENGL 1010/ENGL 2010. This assessment is multimodal and multiphase, and involves collaborative work with Institutional Research.

I recognize that I’ve mentioned some of the items I highlight above in other narratives. Because our teaching roles are so often integrally connected to our service and professional development roles, and especially for a highly engaged faculty member, this overlap in categories will more often than not occur. I’d like to stress that what I’m highlighting here is the leadership I’ve exhibited in these projects. Many of these projects and initiatives would not have taken place, at least at that time, without my ideas, arguments, and my ability to carry projects through to conclusion. In others of these projects, I played a leadership role because I was entrusted to lead.

ARTIFACTS:

Featured Departmental Service: Publication Center.

As I’ve described elsewhere, after I attended a session at AWP in which a presenter described a publication center, located within an English Department at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, I wrote to the presenter and asked her for the details of that center. I could immediately see and began imagining the possibilities for our students, should we be able to develop a center that would allow us to work with students as they learned about publication and participated in it, as they solicited publication projects, designed, and published books and other publications. When I heard back from her, I wrote a proposal to the English Department, describing the equipment to be purchased, a potential location for it, and the projects I imagined us carrying out. The department agreed, and we carried the proposal forward.

This project, too, required the collaboration of many people, chief among them the Associate Dean and the Dean, who found end-of-year money to purchase a perfect binder, a trimmer, and printers, as well as design software, which we loaded onto computers in an existing networked classroom. From those beginnings, we have gone on to publish five student chapbooks in editions of 200 copies, shorter editions of several student finalist manuscripts, broadsides, class anthologies, and many other kinds of student publications, digital and print. We have expanded the capacity and the planning infrastructure of the Center.

For such an enterprise to succeed, many people must engage with it, develop its activities, support it by introducing their students to its programs and by developing curriculum and projects that can be carried out there. I’d name, in particular, Clint Gardner, Andrea Malouf, Lynn Kilpatrick, Brandon Alva, Justin Jory, and Kati Lewis; Charlotte Howe and Ken Nelson are crucial and invaluable partners. I’m proud to say that I played a critical role in beginning many of the programs that are carried out in the Publication Center, in founding a steering committee that plans its pedagogical mission and looks out for its long-term strategy. I drafted, with the aid of the steering group, a mission statement and a strategic plan. My work on the Publication Center demonstrates, I believe, both my vision and my strong collaborative ethic. I have exhibited leadership in solving what are inevitable, although occasional, challenges in the operations of the Center. I believe that my work as a collaborative leader in bringing this site to its current status is exemplary, one of a handful of accomplishments in our department of this nature.

ARTIFACTS:

Within the College:

From 2009-2011, I was the President of the Faculty Association, and the Co-chair, with Vice President Dennis Klaus, of the Discussion Team. I became the president at a challenging time, with relations between the College President and the faculty at something of an impasse. Even so, over the course of my service to the Faculty Association–I continued close work with the Association as the Past President until 2013, and served on the Discussion Team during that post-presidential period as well–we were able to accomplish a great deal

From just about the first day of my term, faculty came to me with knotty problems that had until that point proven to be intractable. Faculty from the SAT, formerly the Skills Center, were experiencing a crisis of culture, with some faculty newly arrived from UCAT, a new dean, and the imperative to rationalize loads and faculty models. We worked throughout my term on SAT issues–indeed, some of these issues continue, albeit in less dire form, to this day. The faculty felt deprofessionalized, and loads had been summarily increased and redefined with little or no discussion. The faculty’s participation in shared governance had eroded. Loads were dramatically at odds with those of faculty in the rest of the College. I met with many faculty, individually, in pairs, in groups, to hear their concerns and to make certain that I represented them fairly.

By working closely with the then-VP, and later, with Provost Picard, we were able to reverse the changes in load redefinition. A new dean was hired. The faculty had opportunities to speak directly to the Provost and share their concerns. Ultimately, we remedied some unfortunate trends, and were able to re-engage the faculty with their administrators in more productive relations.

I played a strong role in developing or substantially revising two policies: the Copyright Ownership/Intellectual Property policy, and the new, and clear provision for access to benefits for domestic partners of employees. Both of these policies arose because faculty came to me and asked if we could work on them. I brought these items to the discussion team and the team worked on them collaboratively, resulting in a clearer policy that more clearly delineated the faculty’s intellectual and copyright rights, as well as the College’s purview in these matters; and a policy that clearly allowed registered domestic partners of employees to access medical and other benefits.

During my term as president, we developed new and clearer language in what was then the Academic Guide about the service obligations of faculty, as well as a very carefully deliberated philosophy and procedure for faculty reassigned time. The language we developed is substantially unchanged, now in the Faculty Handbook. For these ongoing challenges, we created quite durable solutions.

I’m particularly proud to have taken up problems that earlier faculty leaders had begun addressing, and brought them to resolution. Gary Barnett, my estimable predecessor, persuaded the faculty that we should undo the fixed number of summer contracts, and through protracted experimentation and analysis over the course of three years, arrive at a summer pay rate that would allow many more faculty to teach during the summer at an improved rate. This project was begun when David Richardson was the Academic Vice President, and concluded during the tenure of Joe Peterson. In the interim, a new budget officer, Kimberly Henrie, came on board. All the personnel who had hands on this process had varying viewpoints about the terms of the original agreement, how it should be carried forward, and so forth. Because I am not a numbers person, I cannot accurately account the exact mathematical outcome of this story. But what’s most important is that we were able to keep faith with the faculty, making sure that the summer monies were used, practically to the penny, to arrive at a figure for summer pay that improves the lot of every full-time faculty member who teaches in the summer. Many more full-time faculty now teach in the summer than previously; their significantly enhanced pay reflects the hard work of many faculty leaders, and the ethical behavior of many administrators. I will only say of my role in this whole process that I was able to bring forceful words to the conclusion of some fierce accounting. I consider this, in many ways, one of my finest hours as a faculty leader.

Finally, I led the Faculty Association to a dramatic increase in membership. When I took office, our membership was low. In consultation with the Executive Board of the Association, we planned a membership campaign that resulted in, for instance, 30 new faculty memberships in a single meeting. Some of these new memberships came about because faculty I had personally assisted in resolving problems saw the benefits and the necessity of lending their own support to an organization that got results and that was dedicated to their aid.

I believe that my leadership as Faculty Association president showed how important it is for faculty to speak clearly and without fear, and especially how important it is for tenured faculty to use their voices for those who are not tenured, including for part-time faculty. I showed how important it is for faculty to advocate from their philosophical commitments as faculty. Finally, in my service as Faculty Association president, I showed how important persistence is. When I met, along with my Faculty Senate President colleague, with the Provost, I made sure that I mentioned the unresolved issues that were still on my agenda. Nearly every meeting, I asked how resolution on SAT issues was proceeding. I asked about the recategorizing of faculty lines, previously occupied by tenure line faculty, as non-tenure track positions. Through persistence and advocacy, we were able to resolve or make progress toward resolution on very serious and consequential issues.

I have continued to serve, as a former faculty leader, as a sounding board to all subsequent faculty leaders.

NOTE on documentation: because of the nature of service as Faculty Association president, and because the documents we worked on are institutionally owned, I am not in a position to offer documentary evidence of some of the above.

ARTIFACTS:

Board of Trustees Reports (1) (2) (3). These demonstrate some of the ways we represented faculty work to our Trustees, and also to our administrators.

Within the community:

In 2008, I was awarded the SLC Mayors Award for Service to the Literary Arts. My colleagues nominated me, which is one reason the award is significant to me. The second reason is those who preceded me as recipients of the award, people who have founded reading series and who have carried forward significant educational and cultural initiatives. In my own service to the literary arts, I point to the fact that I have been asked often to serve as a judge of student poetry competitions (at UVU and at BYU); that I have served on various literary arts boards, including being a panelist for the Utah Arts Council, evaluating grant proposals in the literary arts (I served a total of four terms on two different panels). I read at public events (the Arts Festival, public reading series like City Arts). I have served a term on the working board of Writers @ Work, the prominent and widely known writers conference. I have planned and carried out several workshops for the public via the Community Writing Center–one on avant-garde poetry, one on sports writing, one on digital stories and video essays. I’ve also recently been asked to participate in an ad hoc group, comprising representatives of writing programs, presses, literary arts festivals, journalists and others, whose purpose is to enhance and strengthen what our convener, Kristen Johanna Allen, co-founder of Torrey House Press, calls ‘the culture of the book.’

I serve on the boards of two community organizations. One is Signature Books, a press whose mission focuses on the publication of scholarly Mormon history, as well as fiction, poetry, and essays (among other genres). As the only non-historian on the board, I am often a third reader, the one making recommendations about fiction and poetry manuscripts when the first two readers come to a split decision. I have also frequently offered feedback directly to writers whose works we like well enough to ask for revision and resubmission. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing works that I’ve read and commented upon come back to us, well-revised, and be published. I’ve been on this board for about twenty years now.

I’ve more recently joined the Governing Board of the Salt Lake Film Society, where I’m in my third year. I’ve recently become a part of the Executive Committee as the secretary. As a member of this board, I am deeply involved in learning about the economies of a non-profit that offers an experience–the movies–that looks suspiciously to patrons like the same service offered by the for-profit world (i.e., the movies). I’m involved in developing strategies for communicating the mission of the SLFS to our patrons and the community; I’ve been in attendance at meetings with representatives of county government, and participated in conversations with these government officials about the particular and unique mission of our organization. I’m also a part of developing new strategies for sustaining the Film Society as the world of film exposition morphs and changes practically before our eyes. I helped, as all board members do, in whatever ways I could to help raise funds and awareness for our digital conversion campaign. (All film exhibitors had to purchase digital projectors, as the standard for the film industry changed from film to digital. Multiplex and commercial theaters received subsidy from major studios, but art house theaters, such as the Film Society, did not. In essence, art house theaters had to raise the funds themselves to convert to digital exhibition, or perish.)

In all, this service is exciting, and as I serve, I am learning about a sector of the economy that has potentially great relevance to the future employment of SLCC students.

ARTIFACT: Letter to contacts regarding digital conversion. I sent this letter to multiple contacts as a way of sharing the SLFS’s mission.

TEACHING Narrative  |   PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITY Narrative  |  Additional Documentation