Faculty Voice Newsletter: May 2017: CCFT President’s Report: Some First Year Reflections

by Karl Ewald

The CCFT and district negotiations teams met on April 25th and came to an agreement on compensation that both sides felt was a workable deal. I’m writing this right after the May 1st Governing Board meeting and I’m happy to say that the board approved the basic structure of the deal. Our negotiations team has consulted with the Executive Board and we will be bringing the details of the proposal to the CCFT Council on May 8th to see if they recommend ratification. If so, we’ll send ballots out for a full membership vote sometime next week. (In the meantime we plan to send out more information via faculty email.)

While on the topic of voting, when you get your ballot, please make your votes for Treasurer, Historian, and a good number of Council seats. The stronger our E-Board and Council, the stronger your voice.

This will be the last issue of Faculty Voice for this academic year which means I’m nearing the end of my first year as CCFT president. This has been quite a busy year. We entered the fall semester still working on negotiations that were put on hold last spring when the bond was demanding much of our attention. That cycle concluded in November and we’ve already been back to the table and believe we have another deal you can support.

From a personal perspective, this year has been a rich learning experience for me. I can be a bit compulsive in my approach to work. When I’m focused on something I often have trouble putting it down and moving on to something else. That approach has mostly served me well thought I admit it doesn’t always lead to a healthy work/life balance. This position has taught me some healthy lessons in patience. The negotiations meetings are scheduled well in advance and Governing Board meetings happen once a month. This sets a pace that doesn’t quite fit with wanting to stay mono-focused to completion. To remain healthy and productive, I needed to practice shifting my focus quickly. From one meeting to the next, from one group of collaborators to the next. We all learn lessons in our own time… Is it possible this role will teach me the tools for a more balanced life?

I think a lot about the college and how it functions as a system. In some recent comments to the governing board, I was contemplating bravery. In our comic book obsessed popular culture it is often hard to distinguish bravery from recklessness. To my mind bravery is the result of the mental process which takes fear and anxiety coming from our amygdala and brings it into the light of our consciousness. In consciousness, these emotions can be assessed in relation to history, knowledge, and logic and tempers our fight-or-flight response so we can make better decisions. The role of CCFT, and my role as CCFT president, is part of the shared consciousness of the college that allows it to make better decisions than any one of us alone. CCFT will inevitably see things in a different light than the other individuals and groups which make up our college community, but that is a healthy part of our collective consciousness.

In my classroom and across the college I try to work from the perspective that we already have exactly the right people we need to succeed. The friction comes not from the people, but from the system and how it links us together. In disagreement, I try to look first at my own thinking. What can I learn from this? What am I missing or glossing over? I believe in change. I see it as the path to betterment. If the path to change begins with changed minds, why shouldn’t I be willing to go first?