Monday, December 16, 2013

Guest Post: An Annual Event You Don’t Want To Miss

by Bruce Seger, Mentor, New Member Mentoring Program

Editor's Note:  As members of academia, I think many of us already know the importance of attending conferences in our disciplines; but how many of us have considered attending a conference about union activities, issues and interests? Bruce's post for this week speaks to his experience at one such conference, and reveals how much you can learn about (and learn to appreciate) your very own union at such an event. -- SKG
I recently attended the 35th Annual NYSUT Community College Conference in Cooperstown at the Otesaga Hotel. The conference occurs annually in November, at an upstate venue. It is always interesting, informative and entertaining.

Look at that scenery! (Oh yeah, and the landscape is nice, too.)
So why should you attend? First, it is a chance to meet with fellow community college colleagues from around the state and interact about institutional, political and union issues. Second, the conference offers numerous workshops, as well as a diverse and informative group of speakers during the breakfast, lunch and dinner sessions. This year’s sessions included Leadership Development: Understanding Conflict, Basic Negotiations: Principles and Theory, Why MOOC’s Matter, Advanced Negotiations: Challenges to Public Sector Unionism, How to Be Smart When Using Social Media, Basic Negotiations: Techniques and Practice, We’re REALLY Disappointed: Civil Expressions of Power, The Union’s Role in Addressing Sexual Harassment and Hostile Work Environment, Basic Negotiations: Developing Contract Language, Who’s on Deck? Leadership Succession Planning, Advanced Negotiations: Issues for Everyone BUT Full-Time Classroom Faculty and What Do You Stand For?: Branding and Local Identity.

Among the presenters this year were our President Kevin Peterman, our Vice President, Sean Tvelia and our Adjunct Coordinator, Cynthia Eaton. It is assumed that our Faculty Association is similar to others in the state. Attending the conference highlights just how wrong that statement is. Kevin Peterman discussed many issues including collective bargaining, having a working relationship with administration political action, engaging union members, promoting common goals among members and planning for the future. Many from other colleges were amazed at our association model and requested that Kevin present at their college associations. It seems that many unions from other colleges have trouble gaining any attendance or interest for union activity.

The conference runs from Friday evening to Sunday morning. During the day on Saturday there is an extended break allowing participants to travel to town and the surrounding area to explore everything from the Baseball Hall of Fame to local farms, wineries, and small town stores and shops.

The previous year’s conference venue was at Saratoga and the conference usually changes venues each year. I have gained valuable new information at every community college conference I have attended, as well as a greater appreciation for our union, its officers and members. We always have one the largest attending groups at the conference and I encourage you to attend and hope to see you next year at the 2014 NYUT Community College Conference.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

“In Solidarity” is Not Just the Closing of a Letter

I apologize for my silence over the past two weeks! I've been, to use the parlance of the service industry, "in the weeds." Usually I do a fairly good job of compartmentalizing my family life and my professional life, but this semester my family life threw a proverbial wrench into my professional life, and in the form of a darling, sweet, adorable little germ trap . . . my nine-month old daughter.
Still Life with Baby, Chicken Pox, Calamine and Comb
The first hiccup in the semester came in late October, when the Little Miss Germ Trap caught the chicken pox. That was fun! I had to take an entire week off from classes to stay home with an itchy cranky poxy infant! That one week off precipitated a backlog of essay and quiz grading and a slew of committee responsibilities that I've yet to resolve completely. And then the second hiccup came just last week, when Little Miss Germ Trap caught Roseola or The Plague or some kind of Alien Superflu, and I had to cancel yet another class, and as a result, rethink my end-of-semester final assignments.
This experience was not without its useful learning curve, however. (Don't take on overload assignments the semester after you give birth, Dummy! Don't teach brand new texts in that same semester! Resist joining new committees!) Also, it affirmed something I've known since I became a faculty member here:  we have a marvelous support system at SCCC, and particularly in the FA.
My lovely department chair , Michael Boecherer -- who is now of course a Guild member but has a history of active participation in the FA prior to his administrative position -- offered lots of good advice on addressing student needs. He even met with one of my classes briefly to address concerns and cover course material in my absence so that my students wouldn't lose valuable time at the end of the semester.
My office mate, the inimitable Ms. Cynthia Eaton (and the FA's Adjunct Representative) generously offered her babysitting services even though she's twice as busy as I am and has two adorable little boys of her own to look after.
And my good friend (and former chair of the FA's Community Outreach Committee) Adam Penna talked me down and kept me from leaping out my office window yesterday when I had myself turned inside out over all of the work I have to complete in the next two weeks. (Don't worry -- even if I'd leaped out my window I wouldn't have done much damage -- I'm on the first floor.)
Not to be too dramatic (har har), but I feel a profound thankfulness for having such helpful and understanding colleagues. I experienced similar camaraderie and solidarity when  I was a faculty member of the Ammerman Campus, too, so I know such friendliness is not just restricted to Eastern.
And not too long ago, I witnessed our FA officers and FA members come together to protect our newest members, and that experience -- much like my experience this semester -- left quite an impression on me. This country was in the deepest, most tumultuous parts of its recession, and Suffolk County Community College’s budget was threatened by cuts at the state and county level. The FA was asked to open negotiations for renewal of our contract, and the FA agreed.
High on the FA’s priority list was protecting the jobs of at least 70 full-time faculty members, who, like yourselves, did not yet have continuing appointment (otherwise known as tenure). Then-President Ellen Schuler Mauk wrote a clear and thorough rationale for the negotiations in a special edition of The Word (you can find it here:, under the 2009-2010 archives  -- titled “Contract Edition”). In a special vote ratified on June 9, 2010, 88% of the FA membership approved the 2010-2015 Faculty Association Contract.
The FA’s forward thinking and willingness to open negotiations early managed to avoid possible roadblocks and threats to membership in the 2011-2012 year, when the contract was originally due to be renegotiated. And when the contract is up for negotiation again in 2015, I’m confident you’ll see the same levels of cooperation between the individuals in our membership, the administration, and our union officers.
So you may have noticed that much of the FA's literature is often printed with the closing "in solidarity." I just wanted to remind you, with these anecdotes, that here at Suffolk it's not just a catchphrase, or an automatic, knee-jerk reaction. It's something practiced, not preached, and it's what makes working here a pleasure. I know this time of year can be incredibly stressful and busy -- but your colleagues are here for you, and if you need help, you should ask for it.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Extra: The FA Holiday Party

by Sarah Gutowski, Chair, New Member Mentoring Program

We're making up for missing a post two weeks ago -- you felt like something was missing, didn't you? -- by sending out one more blog post that doubles as a reminder.

Hmmm, this looks familiar, doesn't it?
This year’s event will be held on December 6 at 7 p.m. at Villa Lombardi’s in Holbrook (877 Main Street), and because this is your first year here, your ticket to the party will be paid for by the FA. Woohoo! Of course, you are welcome to bring your spouse or significant other or a friend to the Holiday Party with you – and many people do – but that ticket will cost $40. (You are free also to buy additional tickets for more friends if you like – bring your bowling team! Your book club! Your Sunday morning coffee klatsch! – but those cost around $75 per person.)
You can find a reservation form for the Holiday Party on the back of the current copy of The Word, or you could click here. The only catch: The deadline's tomorrow, Wednesday, November 20. If you call the office at x4151 or email Anita at anita (at)
I encourage you to go to the Holiday Party, particularly in your first years here. It’s a great way to get to know your colleagues in a setting outside of work. (I was going to write “in a less formal setting,” but the FA Holiday shindigs can be pretty fancy. Not quite black tie, but a good excuse to wear that special something that’s just a little too shimmery or glittery or velvety for the office or classroom.)
That’s it for today! I promise!

NYSUT, AFT, AFL-CIO, and "On Campus"

by Sarah Gutowski, Chair, New Member Mentoring Program

You may or may not have come to SCCC this year from an institution with a strong union presence (or, sadly, any union presence at all) -- so being a part of a union and what that means may be rather new to you.
Why grade that stack of papers when you could explore AFT?
The Faculty Association of Suffolk County Community College is dedicated to providing good working conditions and salaries for its community of professionals (full-time classroom faculty, librarians, counselors, specialists and professional assistants), as well fostering an environment that "maintain[s] the tradition of excellent public higher education in Suffolk County, New York," as FA President Kevin Peterman writes in his welcome letter on the FA web site.

The FA shares this commitment to excellence in higher education and optimal working conditions for its professionals by being a part of New York State United Teachers (or, NYSUT), a federation of more than 1,200 local unions in New York State. NYSUT is an affiliate of AFT, the American Federation of Teachers -- which is an affiliate of AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations), an "umbrella federation for U.S. unions."

Together, these organizations work to promote the best interests of its membership. The FA believes, as Kevin reminds us in his welcome letter, "the working conditions of our members help enhance the learning conditions of our students" -- so promoting the best interests of the membership also promotes the best interest of our students and, because we're a public institution, our community.

You'll notice (if you haven't already) that as a part of the FA you're going to receive a lot of literature via the U.S. Postal Service from AFT and NYSUT. While this can seem overwhelming once in a while, especially around election time, the pros of being "in the loop" far outweigh the cons.

For instance, you probably received an issue of the September/October issue of AFT's periodical "On Campus" at the beginning of the semester.  This magazine addresses a number of issues relevant to those working in higher education, and often gives you a larger sense of whats happening in higher education (the good and the bad) across the nation. Its worth perusing these issues even if you have to wait until classes are over to find the time to keep abreast of important trends that may affect our profession.

The magazine also features articles that offer advice and tips for improving your professional performance. To peruse any back issue of On Campus, visit
Also, as members of AFT and NYSUT, you're eligible for benefits. To learn more about these benefits (from car rental, entertainment, and healthclub discounts to legal and financial services), visit and create an online account -- you'll need your AFT member number and your AFT local number.
You should have received an AFT membership card in the mail by this point. But if you've misplaced it (LIKE SOMEONE WHO SHOULD BE MUCH BETTER ABOUT SUCH THINGS BUT ISN'T, AND SHALL REMAIN NAMELESS) you should go to the AFT Members Only page and fill out the form. Explain that you need your number(s), and they'll send you a helpful email in response.
NYSUT also provides benefits to its members (you may have received some indication of this via mail already). To log on to the NYSUT web site and learn more, visit their login page and follow the directions.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Guest Post: Advising

by Joe Napolitano, FA Mentor, New Member Mentoring Program

Editor's Note: Due to technical problems with the listserv last week and this week, we're a little behind on our posts. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Now that we're back, up and running, please welcome FA Mentor Joe Napolitano as our third fabulous guest blogger of the semester. Joe, who teaches Biology on the Eastern Campus, writes in his post about some of his own experiences as a first-year faculty member advising first-year college students, and gives us some relevant advice as we begin this semester's period of Priority Registration at SCCC.

Snow, Shark, and Priority Reg
It’s that time of year, once again.  The birds are flapping off to warmer climes (enviably), the trees are giving up on photosynthesis in one final festival of color (which we get to clean up), and surplus Halloween candy is cheap and plentiful (I’ve had Twizzlers for breakfast every day this week).

You may have also noticed the cool autumn breezes carrying faint whispers of “mid-semester…”, “SAIN report…”, and “priority registration….” - that’s right, it’s advising season.
Although our teaching duties probably occupy the bulk of our time, especially for new faculty, advising and mentoring students is, arguably, an equally important role of Suffolk faculty.  Regardless of rank or discipline, we all have two common goals - to facilitate students’ academic success during their time here, and to prepare them for their academic or professional endeavors to come.  Advising takes many forms and, chances are, you’ve already done plenty this semester.  However, the mid-semester mark is a useful advising cue for two reasons - it’s a good time to appraise students of their progress in your courses thus far, and also to start planning a course schedule for the next semester.

Sometime between the mid-semester mark and priority registration (October 24th and November 11th, respectively, this semester) I require all of my students to sit down individually with me for a brief advising session I call the ‘mid-semester check-in’.  During the check-in, we review their academic progress and attendance, calculate their current grade and estimate what they’ll need to get on upcoming assignments in order to end up with a final grade they’re satisfied with.  For students who are struggling, we talk about study skills and time management and plan additional meetings, if necessary.  I’ve found that, despite transparent grading policies and regular feedback, students don’t always have a clear idea of how they’re doing.  Perhaps it’s just easier to think “if I just keeping showing up it’s somehow going to be ok” instead of “holy crap, if I don’t do get it together in this class I’m completely screwed”.  Regardless, the check-in has been effective at ‘scaring straight’ some at-risk students (and providing a nice ego-stroking to those who are doing well).

The second part of the check-in is about planning ahead - getting students to start thinking about the next semester.  If you are unaware, Priority Registration is a period just after mid-semester when students can begin registering for the next semester’s classes.  In general, the longer a student has been at Suffolk, the earlier the registration date - this gives students with fewer semesters left the first crack at registering for the courses they need.  Students can check this date by logging in to MySCCC, clicking the “My Courses” tab, then “View My Holds”.

I encourage my students to have a schedule ready before their registration date so they can jump on the classes they want.  Wait too long and the class may fill (or be canceled) and there’s no waitlist system for courses at Suffolk so it’s hit or miss as to whether a seat will open up.

Advising can be a little intimidating, especially for new faculty.  After all, how can you guide a student through the intricacies of Suffolk when you just got here yourself?  To you, I have two pieces of advice:

First, fear not.  Advising is actually one of the best ways to learn about courses, requirements and programs at the College that you’re not already familiar with.  There are also plenty of resources available to help faculty with advising - from your FA faculty mentor to the Academic Advising and Mentoring Centers.  Although the AAMCs may seem like another service for students, they’re also very much for faculty.  Check out the brand new AAMC Short Guide - a brief how-to for faculty advising and mentoring.  It’s available at every AAMC, on the Virtual Learning Commons and via the Title III Project home page.  The guide also includes a veritable gold mine of contact info for College programs and offices.  Don’t know the answer?  Just call someone and ask!

My own first advising experience was terrifying (initially).  I volunteered for ‘arena advising’ - students queue up at a computer lab to meet with a counselor or faculty member during priority registration.  I showed up with little knowledge of Suffolk, to a long line of waiting students who knew even less and were expecting me to guide them.  Not only did I survive, but I learned so much from the experience  that I ended up doing it every semester thereafter - not just to help students, but because every advising experience made me a better adviser.

Second, never underestimate your ability to make a positive difference as an adviser.  Even a few minutes spent showing a student how to access their SAIN report or check their registration date can add up to some serious empowerment down the road.  College isn’t high school, and it can be daunting for students when they realize that, to a large degree, they’re expected to be their own guidance counselors, and navigate an unfamiliar educational system while making important life-decisions.

One of my favorite advising moments happened when I checked in with a student to whom I had suggested applying for a new summer research assistantship.   The student was one of the brightest I’d had, and the research experience would look great on her resume and perhaps even open a few doors.  As the deadline loomed, I asked if she had applied.  She replied that it looked interesting but was too expensive.  “Expensive?”  I was baffled - “the program is free”.  “But what about the $3000 stipend?” she asked.  “Uh, ‘stipend’ means *they* pay *you*…”  Needless to say, she applied, was accepted and spent the summer as an assistant researcher.  Crisis averted by a wee bit of advising.
(For more information, log in to MySCCC → click “Virtual Learning Commons” tab → click “For Instructors”.)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Conference Attendance and Reimbursement

by Sarah Gutowski, Chair, New Member Mentoring Program

At the end of this week I'll be traveling down to Virginia to participate in two poetry readings with a colleague. Because these readings are a part of my professional development, and in support of a recent publication, I'm able to request reimbursement from the college for expenses associated with the trip. Additionally, I'll be taking two "T" days -- time separate from sick days or from personal days on my monthly leave report.

Oh hey, Autumn. Nice of you to show up.
It's important to note that I submitted my request for reimbursement earlier in the semester, and it was approved by my academic chair and campus dean well before the dates of the trip. In fact, our Governance bodies at SCCC recommend submitting your requests at least six weeks in advance of your conference or professional obligation. To submit a request, you need to fill out a form which will require you to estimate the cost of travel, hotel, registration, meals, etc., and support it with documents that prove your intention to attend said event (like a conference registration receipt, or a letter that confirms your participation as a reader or panelist, etc.).

You’ll submit these forms to your academic chair, who must approve them first, and then he or she or your department’s administrative assistant will forward them to the Central Business Office. They’ll do their thing with the application, and then it will find its way to your executive dean for approval. THEN (yes, there’s more, much more!) the application will be sent back to your department’s administrative assistant, who will turn the application (or, in fancier terms, “requisition”) into a purchase order. Also, you’ll receive a nice letter in the mail notifying you that your conference attendance has been approved.

Once you’re approved, all you have to do is write that paper for the conference! (Or simply plan your itinerary and pack your bags, you lucky thing.)

After you’ve traveled and rubbed elbows at the conference/event, you’ll return home and – no matter how jet-lagged you are or how many papers or projects you find waiting to be graded – FILL OUT MORE PAPERWORK. You’ll need to submit two forms (a Travel Expense Voucher and a Contractual Travel Payment Request form), receipts, and materials (save your name badge! And the conference brochure!) that prove you attended your conference and, therefore, deserve to be reimbursed. Also, you’ll need to type a letter to the Central Business Office (a “Conference Report”), akin to a “What I Did At Summer Camp” writing assignment. You need to submit this paperwork within three months to your department’s administrative assistant, who will ask your academic chair to sign it, and then he or she will forward it on to Accounts Payable.

I know that three months sounds like a ridiculously long amount of time, but when you attend a conference in March, and return to a spring semester filled with papers and events and meetings, that June deadline can encroach fairly fast. And if you find that you missed the three month mark, be it by two weeks or two months, you risk not having a single penny of your conference costs reimbursed. (Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything. Nope. Not me!)

You can find the official description of procedures in a document on the FA’s website. This document is nice, too, because it includes active links to all of the forms I mentioned above.

I realize that as you navigate your way through your first semester, you may not be thinking of attending a conference just yet. But eventually, you’ll want to, and the process can seem really intimidating. Try to save a copy of this post somewhere so that you can refer to it when that time comes.

Additional but important items about conferences:
  • Contractually, we are all entitled to $1500 for conference expenses between September 1, 2013 and August 31, 2015. 
  • There’s nowhere on the leave report to officially record “conference leave” or "T" days, other than to type a message for your supervisor under the “notes” section of the leave report. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Guest Post: Tech Tips!

by Liz Foley,Grant Campus Coordinator, New Member Mentoring Program

Editor's Note: SKG again! Please welcome Grant Campus Coordinator Liz Foley as our second guest blogger of the semester. Liz, who works in the Educational Technology Unit on the Grant Campus, has some particularly useful information for those of us who are new to SCCC. Personally, I don't know where I'd be without the last two tips -- it seems like there's always some document I began at school that I need to access and finish at home, or vice versa -- and having access to my files, and/or being able to use my laptop on campus, has helped me be infinitely more productive than I would be otherwise.
New job, new office, class prep, departmental meetings, meeting new people… and TECHNOLOGY too!
Here are some tips that you may not be aware of to get you started with working with the technology here at SCCC:

  • There is electronic equipment available in most every classroom which you may incorporate into your classes, including computers, projectors, Smartboards, and DVD/VHS players. Each campus has an Educational Technology Unit (ETU) that you would contact if the technology is not working. Each campus will explain their service request system. While the technology is not working, call the Media Services department on your campus to deliver a smart cart that has a computer, a projector and a VHS/DVD player. Meanwhile, always have a backup lesson plan that does not include using the technology!

  • If you have any issues with your office computer, you may submit a Desktop Service Request Form using the following link - http://desktop (this only works on campus) or call X4357 or x4505. This link works from home - to submit a request.

  • You are provided an SCCC email account, which is an official means of communication from the college, which you access through your MySCCC faculty portal and then clicking on the email icon in the upper right of the page. You may also access your email directly through, logging in with your SCCC credentials.

  • Rule of thumb: Always use the BCC: line (Blind Carbon Copy) for all of your student’s email addresses when sending emails to your class, and not the To: line, so as to keep email information private from other students.

  • Did you know that you can access files in your ‘My Documents’folder that reside on your office computer from home?

  • Using, you will then see this screen: (Include the s in http)


Click on ‘Continue to this website (not recommended)’ and you will see this screen:

Login using your SCCC credentials to proceed.

  • Did you know that you can access files in your ‘My Documents’folder that reside on your office computer from home?

  • Do you want to connect to SCCC’s wireless while on campus? Log into your MySCCC portal and on the Home tab in the right-hand column, click on ‘Wireless Access Network Registration’. Then click on ‘Acceptance Confirmation’. You may register up to two devices for wireless access, contacting the Academic Computing Center on your campus to troubleshoot any problems.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Art of Being Mentored

by Sarah Gutowski, Chair, New Member Mentoring Program
You may have noticed that earlier this week, we were all sent an email from Chris Gherardi, College Associate Dean of the Office of Faculty & Professional Advancement, about a workshop on mentoring that will be held this Friday, October 18, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. in the Mildred Green Room of the Babylon Student Center (Ammerman Campus).
Being a new member, the act of mentoring may be the last thing on your mind. (For instance, if you're out East, you may be more preoccupied with the plague of flies that have taken up residence in your office, and wonder whether this is a sign of End Times. If you're at Ammerman or Grant, you may be wondering if the plague of VERYIMPORTANTWHATEVERYOUDOMAKESUREYOU'RETHERE meetings is a sign of End Times.) You may be -- and rightly so -- more interested in being the mentee. And you may think that, as a mentee, there's really very little work to be done on your part.
At least, that's what I thought before I took part in a similar mentoring workshop last year, which was co-sponsored by The Office of the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs and the Faculty Association. At this workshop, many of the FA mentors, and some of the academic chairs and administrators across the three campuses, were led through a seminar by members of ELT (NYSUT's Education and Learning Trust) where we discussed the importance of mentor-mentee relationships and ways to help those relationships be really useful to both parties.

Go ahead. Cast a long shadow.
That's where I was introduced to the idea of "being mentored' as an engagement, as opposed to something that just happens to you. At the back of the ELT booklet on mentoring, there were two pages of a handout titled “For the Mentee: Getting the Most Out of Being Mentored” – and these were what changed my perspective. So I thought YOU, the new members, might find some of this information useful, too. After all, I think most of us regard being mentored as a passive role, when really (and as we learned in the seminar) it’s much more dynamic than that. 
The ELT handout, quoting the author Hal Portner in his book “Being Mentored: A Guide for Protégés” (Corwin Press), states that in order to get the most out of mentoring, you should “be” the following:
  • Be ready – “Wholeheartedly accept the opportunity to be mentored”
  • Be willing – You need to “believe that you have an ongoing need to learn . . . When you are doing something you believe in – when what you are doing sits well with your set of values and is relevant to your life – you will do it better; you will do it with passion.” Additionally, you need to “have confidence that being mentored . . . can make a difference between success and failure.” And lastly, you must  believe that “being mentored can help you remain in the profession and have a satisfying and gratifying career.”
  • Be able – “Whether you have a mentor who offers little help or support, or a mentor who throws so much information and help your way that you are constantly overwhelmed [Blog Author’s note: Funny, that sounds like somebody I know . . .], or a mentor who is . . . experienced [and] who understands how to work effectively with a protégé, you will still get more out of being mentored if you are ‘able’. Being able means having the knowledge, skills and understanding necessary to be proactive in the mentoring process. Being proactive means not only being ready and willing to access the resources available to you, but also being empowered to do so.”
And finally, the handout offers these “Principles for Success”:
  • Take the initiative when it comes to having your needs met as a protégé.
  • Avoid making assumptions about your mentor’s plans and expectations.
  • Solicit feedback from your mentor as a way to improve.
  • Receive feedback objectively.
  • Attempt to construct ways to learn from seemingly untenable situations.
  • Take responsibility for your personal well-being.
  • Contribute to the learning of other educators.
I think that first point about taking initiative is really important at this stage in the game. Make sure you have what you need as you begin your career here at SCCC, and your path will be far less rocky and intimidating. After all, the adage "You're your own best advocate" rings true here, too. Please don't misunderstand -- your mentor is here for you, the New Member Mentoring Program Campus Coordinators are here for you, I'm here for you, and the FA officers are here for you -- but none of us can even begin to help you if we're unaware of what's going on. If you need us, please ask us for our ideas, advice, feedback, and/or time. 
And we're not just offering to help out of the goodness of our hearts. That'd be nice, but ultimately there's a more practical reason: if your needs are being met, you're going to be more productive. You'll perform better, and chances are you'll be more ready, willing, and able to step up and help the college when the college requires it.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Ask (for a list of New Members and Mentors) and Thou Shall Receive (Eventually)

By Sarah Gutowski, Chair, New Member Mentoring Program

First, I'd like to welcome Matt Okerblom as the new Eastern Campus Coordinator for the Mentoring Program. He's taking over for Theresa Dereme, who was lured from the Eastern Campus to the Grant Campus with a new job and title: Interim Assistant Dean of Student Services/Director of Counseling. Please join me in wishing Theresa the best of luck in her new position, and in welcoming Matt to our motley crew.

Second, how'dya like our new look? It's the bee's knees, eh? This little update is serving as a test; with it, I'm going to make sure that the ol' list serve is compatible with Blogger. Notice that all of the prior posts from this academic year have been archived and are accessible in a menu to the right. Also, we've incorporated a nice little "cloud" of labels, so that you can find posts according to subject matter and tags more easily.

Sometimes even superheroes lose their footing;
that's why we have Mentors!
(Har har har)
 (My dog ate the superhero)
Third, and last, some of you requested a list of this semester's new members and mentors. I'm happy to comply. Just remember: this list shall be used for good, and not for reasons nefarious and underhanded. (I can't imagine what nefarious and underhanded reasons you might have, but there you are. The rule still exists, guys and molls. As in, don't be a palooka, and everything'll be jake.)

Fall 2013 New Members and Mentors

Grant Campus

New Members  //  Mentors 

Laura Alberts  //  Victoria Sinacori
Joan Wozniak  //  Victoria Sinacori
Kimberly Coluccio  //  Sue DeMasi
Kathleen Ayers-Lanzillotta  //  Alyssa Kaufman
Margaret Kennedy  //  Jeff Epstein
Jason Ramirez  //  Bruce Seger
Gregory Ryan  //  Tony Zajac
Michael Selmer  //  Al Heraghty


New Members  //  Mentors

Danielle Groneman  //  Theresa Morales

Ammerman Campus

New Members  //  Mentors

Christopher Kavander  //   Paul Basileo
Melissa Adeyeye  //  Emily Lauer
Raymond Di Sanza II  //  William Burns
Nicholas Giordano  //  Albin Cafone
Elizabeth McCormick  //  Meridith Leo-Rowett
Hsiaofang (Sharon) Huang  //  Vera Hu-Hyneman
Mark Kenny //  Vladimir Jurukovski
Brian Koralewski  //  John Bockino
Rachel Schmidt  //  Cecilia Spellman

Eastern Campus

New Members  //  Mentors

Misty Curreli  //   Justin Turner
Jamie Emmetsberger  //  Katherine Aguirre
Todd Gardner  //  Joe Napolitano
Richard Mack  // Johanna MacKay
Aimee Mattiolo  //  Jodi Levine
Rachel Millings  //  Erikka Mendez
Meredith Starr  //  Adam Penna
Susan Wood  //  Kristen Cosentino

Monday, September 30, 2013

Observations, PPCs, and CPCs

by Sarah Gutowski, Chair, New Member Mentoring Program
You may be so busy at the moment, so caught up in the semester, that you failed to notice September 21 marked the end of summer and the beginning of autumn. If you missed the actual date of the solstice, then maybe you were reminded of autumn by the changing color of the leaves, the slightly cooler weather, and/or the gradual shortening of the days. OR you may have been reminded by another harbinger of fall: the scheduling of observations.
Changing Leaves, Eastern Campus
By now, whether you are teaching or non-teaching faculty, you may have received an email from your academic chair or direct supervisor alerting you to the fact that you’ll be observed at some point during the next few weeks. (If you haven’t yet, be on the lookout). Observations in your first semester are routine (you are being considered for retention – not promotion or continuing appointment/tenure – at this point) and conducted according to our contract.
Being observed, much like beginning a new job, involves LOTS OF FORMS – only this time, you aren’t the one filling out the forms! Yay! (There’s just that little matter of having someone watch your every move for a select period of time . . .but no big deal, right?) These forms are all kept neatly for you to peruse on the FA’s website. If you scroll down the page you’ll see two different dropdown boxes. The one on the left holds all of the blank forms, ready to be downloaded and filled out. The one on the right holds all of the sample promotion forms, so you can get an idea of what your own promotion form will look like one day.
When you are contacted regarding your observation, your supervisor will provide you with the names of your department’s Peer Personnel Committee (PPC) members. These are colleagues you can request to be present during your observation, because – again, according to the contract – you have “a right to be evaluated by a colleague within [your] own discipline.”  He or she will observe you and fill out the “B” form (your direct supervisor/academic chair will fill out the “C” form).
You aren't required to do this, but I recommend -- the FA recommends, just about anyone would recommend -- that you do this. First, it makes good sense to have a second perspective where retention, promotion, and continuing appointment is concerned; and second, I've always found it valuable, in terms of fine-tuning my teaching and/or professional development, to have feedback from more than one person, and I think you'll find it valuable, too.
And by the way, you have a College Personnel Committee representative. If he or she hasn’t contacted you yet, you and your CPC rep should have a chat, so look him or her up and send him or her an email, because he or she will need copies of all those observation forms – your supervisor’s, and your peer’s. The CPC reps, like your Peer Personnel Committee members, are there to help you, offer advice as necessary, and act as watchdogs during the observation & promotion process – one of their charges is “to attempt to ensure that all personnel actions are fair and unbiased.”
And as we said in the orientation, that first promotion can arrive faster than you think. Take a look at the rest of the FA’s promotion page so that when it does arrive, you’re not completely taken aback with surprise.