Listening forums generate exchange of ideas

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Dr. Melinda Nish came to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly at her listening forums. She got a little of each, but the new superintendent said she came away inspired.

Nish said she will present an agenda for the next 18 months based on the forums as well as create an opportunity for faculty and staff to submit feedback online.

“I wanted to hear what your goals are, what your opinions are, about what the college is good at doing, what the college needs to be better at, and I’m really impressed with what I’ve heard so far,” she said. “It’s pretty awesome when you hear how people feel about this college.”

Nish said she was impressed by the commitment of faculty, the culture of the campus and the dynamism of the border culture.

“It sounds to me that there’s a lot of creativity here,” she said.

Speakers were encouraged to discuss the challenges facing the campus and she heard a few. Janet Mazzarella, professor of mathematics, said the tutoring budget was shot and more faculty should be hired. Librarian Tony McGee said access to technology is overly complicated.

A larger theme from faculty is that many are still feeling wounded from administrative predecessors.

“Previous administrations made us enemies,” said Andy Macneill, president of the faulty union. “There’s nothing to make me believe she won’t use this to formulate a plan. She’s doing a good job to heal the campus.”

Some of the faculty spoke of the lack of trust between the faculty and former Superintendent Raj K. Chopra. Counselor Corina Soto said it is an overriding issue.

“Trust is a huge issue,” she said.

Nish’s listening forums are a step in the right direction to re-establishing trust between faculty and administration, Soto said.

Mazzarella agreed. She said the forums would help build trust between Nish and the faculty, and distance Nish from what Mazzarella called, “Chopra, the Decider.” Trust, she added, is difficult to earn but easy to lose. Mazzarella said the effects of the rift between the administration and faculty are obvious to her.

Professor of English Philip Lopez said Nish is on the same positive track as former interim superintendent Denise Whittaker.

“If you’re going to lead you have to understand the culture,” he said. “I was impressed when Nish put out an e-mail on understanding, unlike Chopra. I’m positive Nish can help build ties with the faculty, but recognizing problems are one

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