President/Superintendent's Blog


Summary of the January 7, 2020 Regular Meeting of the Board of Trustees


Comments/Board Business

General Public Comments: Community member Richard Marks made a public comment to the Board.

Member Comments: President of the Board Dr. Mullery wished all of the Trustees a happy new year and thanked Bruce Emad for his service as Board President. Clerk of the Board Dorn commented on the importance of the advocacy reference material each trustee received. Trustee Biggin mentioned that she attended the Police Academy graduation last month.

Board Committee Reports: Clerk of the Board Dorn informed the trustees that the ad hoc committee reviewing Administrative Procedure (AP) 6620 met prior to the start of the regular meeting.  I've been directed to provide another draft of the administrative procedure for the committee to review. The committee will meet again prior to the board workshop on January 18, 2020.

Trustee Appointments: President of the Board Dr. Mullery made the following trustee appointments:  

  • Ad Hoc President/Superintendent Evaluation Committee: Trustees Bruce Emad, Sally Biggin, and Carol Mathews
  • Ad Hoc Board Self Evaluation Committee: Trustees Richard Dorn, Dr. Bonnie Deister, and Dr. Colleen Mullery
  • Ad Hoc Committee on Advocacy: Trustees Richard Dorn, Carol Mathews, and Danny Kelley
  • Ad Hoc Committee on Student Success: Trustees Dr. Colleen Mullery, Sally Biggin, and Danny Kelley
  • Audit Committee: Trustees Bruce Emad, Carol Mathews, and Danny Kelley
  • Ad Hoc Committee to review BP 2210 Officers: Trustees Bruce Emad, Richard Dorn, and Sally Biggin
  • Ad Hoc Committee members to review AP 6620 Naming of District Facilities: Trustees Bruce Emad, Richard Dorn, and Danny Kelley
  • Board representative to the Redwood Region Economic Development Commission (RREDC) Board: Trustee Danny Kelley
  • Board representatives to the Foundation Board: Trustees Dr. Colleen Mullery and Danny Kelley

Trustee travel to the Community College League of California (CCLC) Effective Trustee and Board Chair Workshop on January 24, 2020 and the CCLC Annual Conference on January 26-27, 2020: It is important to the long-term health of the District, the effectiveness of the Board, and our efforts to meet accreditation standards that we provide professional development to Trustees.  To that end, the Trustees approved travel for President of the Board Dr. Mullery and Vice President of the Board Danny Kelley to the Community College League of California (CCLC) Effective Trusteeship and Board Chair Workshop on January 24, 2020.  Also approved was travel for Vice President Kelley to attend the CCLC Annual Legislative Conference on January 26-27, 2020 in Sacramento.

Status of Board of Trustees Requests: There are two board requests remaining:

  • C.R. History—Cathy Cox is gathering some information that may be useful in creating the CR History document.  It will take a least this academic year to complete this request.
  • Update on Board Policy (BP) 7330 Communicable Disease and Vaccinations—The College Council tabled the document for further review and discussion our bargaining units.

Consent Calendar Action Items

Approve/Ratify Personnel Actions: With the Board’s action today, Caroline Haug will serve as an Assistant Professor of Nursing, Emily Stackhouse as an Associate Faculty of Agriculture, and Mia Wapner as an Associate Faculty of Forestry and Natural Resources beginning Spring semester.  Please join me in welcoming these three new faculty members to our college community.

Approve Curriculum Changes: The Trustees approved non-substantial changes to twelve courses and the inactivation of two courses. They also approved three new courses and a new Certificate of Achievement in CIS Cybersecurity.  

Thank you to CIS faculty members Professor Dan Calderwood and Professor Chris Romero for developing the new cybersecurity certificate that will prepare students for industry standard certifications such as Cisco Certified Networking Associate (CCNA), Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA), Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) Security+, and EC Council Ethical Hacking.

Approve Bond Project Status: So far, we have less than $500,000 in unspent Q funds in the budget.

Action/Discussion Items

Monthly Financial Status Report:  Our monthly financial status report showed that our higher than expected 2018-19 ending fund balance translated into an estimated ending fund balance of 7.9% for 2019-20.

Discuss Suggested Revisions to the Draft Vision and Strategic Direction Document: The Board approved a draft Vision and Strategic Direction document last fall semester that I subsequently submitted to the District’s governance and planning bodies for review. The Board reviewed the suggested revisions at this meeting. The Trustees will discuss and approve a final Vision document at the Board workshop.

Informational Reports

Board of Trustees Recognition of Men's and Women's Basketball Teams: Bob Brown brought the student athletes of our men and women’s basketball teams to the Board for recognition today.  If you have not been following their win/loss records, our women’s team won the last ten games and started this year with a record of 11 and 3. Our men’s team broke into the top 20 ranking in the state. It's important to mention that the success of our student athletes goes beyond their performance on the court.  They have been successful in the classroom too.

The average overall grade point average for our women’s basketball athletes was 3.44 and 3.39 for the men. I want to thank our coaches for their dedication to the College and to the success of the student athletes under their charge. Head Coach Ryan Bisio, Assistant Coach Taylor Morrow, and Assistant Coach Justin Claus lead our men’s team. Head Coach Jain Tuey and Assistant Coach Darren Turpin, Jr. lead our women’s team.

CR Book Discussion Group - Professor John Johnston:  The administration and Professor John Johnston collaborated to bring some faculty and administrators together to discuss “The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for failure” by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianof last fall semester. We saw the pilot book club as a way to promote professional development and talk about important issues that affect our students and us as educators.

John mentioned that the professional resource team that visited the College last fall noted how important the book club was to building and strengthening our community. John also shared several insights the book club participants identified for further discussion:

  • It’s important to consciously resist tribalism in our politics and discourse
  • We should spend more time and energy toward talking about college culture and what we have in common
  • We should model how to have productive disagreements
  • We should embrace viewpoint diversity.

The book club group that will meet in the spring semester will select the next book for discussion.

As a participant in this initiative, I can say that that the pilot book club was an opportunity for faculty and administrators to interact, listen to different perspectives on the ideas Haidt and Lukianof authored, and to be a community of leaners. I want to thank John for his leadership and willingness to create this wonderful professional development activity for our faculty and staff colleagues.

John wrote a wonderful informational report to the Board that I want to share in its entirety.

Good afternoon.

I’m very grateful and excited to have the opportunity to share with you today a project your faculty, staff, and administration are currently engaged in.

A couple of years ago, Dr. Flamer and I were casually discussing how to best protect our students and their learning environment in what we could see then was going to be an increasingly polarized, noisy, conflict-saturated world. The question we wondered was this: Should we protect our students from ideas they find discomforting and objectionable—even repugnant—by preventing them from being exposed to those ideas or by teaching them how to understand and contend with those ideas?

When I frame the question like that, the answer probably seems obvious. But a quick search of “student protest” on YouTube will result in an astonishing number of cell phone videos depicting students at colleges and universities all over the country shouting down speakers, taking over class meetings with bullhorns, demanding that faculty and administrators resign or be fired for allowing objectionable speakers or ideas access to students on campus, and in some cases engaging in physical violence and serious property destruction in order to prevent college events they find ideologically objectionable. When students (and some faculty and administrators) are asked to explain the justification for these actions, they frequently cite “safety” as a primary concern and explain that ideas and speech acts that cause fear and discomfort in students are also causing harm. They are, therefore, justified in their actions because they believe that offensive speech is a form of violence and, conversely, that violent acts in protest of that speech is, itself, a form of speech.

This is an interesting but troubling line of argument: Speech is violence and violence is speech.

Dr. Flamer and my conversations continued, and eventually we landed on this 2017 book by social psychologist Jonathan Haidt and Freedom and Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) CEO Greg Lukianof: The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for failure. Based on their extensive research, the authors argue that

  1. Students entering college in 2015 and after are psychologically different in important ways from previous cohorts of students for a variety of reasons. Two of the most important reasons are that they came of age with easy access to social media (hence, they term this generation “iGen”—as in internet generation) and, second, they were raised by what are frequently termed “helicopter parents”—that is, parents who fear for their children’s safety and, as a consequence, “hover” over their kids in order to protect them from danger.
  2. iGen college students are hyper-focused on safety and, not surprisingly, experiencing anxiety and depression at vastly greater rates than previous generations.
  3. With very good intentions, college faculty, staff, and administrators may be unknowingly encouraging students to adopt a worldview that exacerbates this anxiety and depression and promotes mindsets that are psychologically damaging. We may be doing this by unknowingly encouraging students to accept what the author’s refer to as “The Three Great Untruths:”

 Untruth #1: What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker. Therefore, being uncomfortable is actually harmful.

Untruth #2: Always trust your feelings: if you feel fear or feel hurt you probably are in danger or have been harmed.

Untruth #3: Life is a battle between good people and evil people. Therefore, those who express opinions that you find objectionable or offensive may not just think differently; they may be evil people.

When students believe these untruths, they understandably see potential threats everywhere (even in unintentional slights and minor offenses) and believe that in order to protect their safety, the college must, as their parents did, eliminate the danger—even when, in all likelihood, no threat to them exists.

The author’s argue that instead of thinking of college students (and kids and teens) as fragile and in need of coddling, colleges should regard students as “anti-fragile”—not just tough or strong, but “anti-fragile.” As an analogy, the authors explain that our immune systems and the muscles in our bodies are anti-fragile: they need to be challenged and pushed in order to become stronger. Similarly, students need to experience challenge and discomfort to become emotionally and cognitively strong, and it is our job as educators, the authors argue, to help them do this.

Now, when offered this description of the book’s argument, most college professionals find it hard to disagree. It seems like there is an easy problem to solve with an obvious solution: just present students with a wide variety of viewpoints and assure them that exploring those ideas will not harm them. But for a variety of reasons, it’s much more complicated than it seems. I’ll give you an example that I hope illustrates part of the difficulty. Last year, I attended a conference on Academic Freedom at Berkeley City College. During one discussion, the faculty presenters and audience members talked about the need for academic freedom in order to protect faculty who teach ideas students find objectionable or discomforting. The examples of potentially-objectionable ideas were ideas like sexism and racism throughout history, systemic oppression of marginalized groups, and feminist critiques of science—ideas that generally align with the liberal progressive worldview of college faculty. The faculty were very comfortable discussing the need to protect the ability of faculty to present these ideas to students without fear. I then posed a question to the room to see how far along the ideological spectrum this commitment to viewpoint diversity extended. I asked, “What if I was one of your colleagues and proposed that a different set of ideas be offered to students for examination—for example, what if I suggested that students should evaluate whether or not the modern feminist movement effectively advances equality or what if I suggested that students should debate whether or not there should be a wall built on America’s southern border. The room instantly went cold, and all the jovial conversation stopped. To break the silence, the presenter then said to me, “Well, then I wouldn’t like you, and I would argue that you would be harming students.”

And therein lies a challenge for us: it’s not just students who may believe these untruths; we may as well.

So how do we overcome our own ideological biases in order to teach students how to live in a world of competing ideas, some of which we may find objectionable?

This is what Haidt and Lukianoff, the authors of this book, are challenging educators to confront: as educators, welcome genuine viewpoint diversity and teach students to welcome viewpoint diversity. Challenge ourselves, challenge them, make them stronger.

But how?

To get that conversation started, Dr. Flamer allocated funds to support a CR Book Group last fall to read and discuss this book.

When I sent out the email invitation in September to join the group, the response was fast and a bit overwhelming. There were far more people interested in being a part of the conversation than there was room or money to support.

So we limited the group to 20, and made sure to include full and part-time faculty from arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences; career technical education; counseling; administrators (including President Flamer). We met three Fridays in fall to discuss the book, and our discussions focused on how we can work together to avoid promoting in students unhealthy, unproductive ways of thinking and to encourage students to believe they should welcome the opportunity to confront new ideas, even ones that make them feel uncomfortable. We discussed question like  

  1. To what degree do we sense in our students the kinds of problematic thinking the authors describe?
  2. Could a destructive ideological conflict like we’ve witnessed at other colleges happen at CR? What mistakes did they make that we would want to avoid?
  3. How do we help students break out of the ideological bubbles that social media and internet news creates for them?
  4. Are we doing anything at CR in attempts to protect students that actually harms their mental health by encouraging the cognitive distortions the authors describe?
  5. Should CR’s diversity policies, mission, and goals include “viewpoint diversity?”
  6. Does CR actively promote common-humanity identity politics, which emphasizes our shared values and interests, or common-enemy politics, which encourages people to see one another not as individuals but as exemplars of groups, some of which are good, some bad groups?
  7. What does CR do to foster among students a sense of shared identity?
  8. How can we model for ourselves and our students respectful, meaningful disagreement on controversial issues?

Our discussions were lively, collegial, and extremely interesting. We discussed the need to support one another in our efforts to offer students the best, most challenging education we can so they are well-prepared to live in the world and navigate its many challenges. We discussed at length the need to protect our college from being drawn into the culture wars currently tearing parts of our country apart. And we discussed the need to resist ideological orthodoxies and tribalism and to help students see the value of viewpoint diversity, even when it includes viewpoints they disagree with.

We’re continuing the group this spring semester with a new group of folks, and this time we’ll be extending invitations to staff. Our hope is that as we come together to discuss how to better serve our students, we will in the process further develop a shared culture at College of the Redwoods, a culture that both supports and challenges students to become cognitively and emotionally strong.

So this is exciting stuff, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to share with you one of the many good things happening at CR right now.

Organizational Reports

Academic Senate: Gary Sokolow updated the Trustees on conversations the Senate had relative to its leadership structure and faculty of the year process.

CSEA: Tami Engman wished everyone a successful Spring 2020 semester and welcomed Trustee Mullery back to the leadership role of the Board.

Management Council: Ron Waters congratulated Dr. Mullery on her new role as President of the Board. He also recognized Kristy Seher for working over the winter break.

Student Trustee: Christine mentioned that ASCR has been very productive and a Native American club was started on the KT site.

Administrative Reports

President/Superintendent's Report:  My written report mentioned that we will host the County Supervisors candidate's forum in the Eureka Campus Theater on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 at 6pm and Molly Blakemore placed an ad in the December 19, 2019 edition of the North Coast Journal thanking the community for supporting the College. I also wrote that our first Firefighter class would graduate on Sunday, January 19, 2020 at 7:00pm in the theater.

I mentioned that Trustee Emad, Trustee Dr. Mullery, and I met with Senator Mike McGuire last month. I also informed the Board that the proceeds we received from the sale of our Garberville site were deposited in a capital outlay fund outside of the general fund. So far, we have spent approximately $90,000 for new generators and less than $10,000 on the immediate needs of the police department. Julia and I have earmarked $40,000 for deferred maintenance issues, funds for the police department, and funds for equipment and furniture for the new Creative Arts building.

Vice President of Instruction Report: Angelina’s report noted that the new online bookstore opened for students. To date, feedback about the new bookstore from CR staff has been positive. Barnes & Noble liaisons have been helpful and responsive to CR's needs. 

She also wrote that we are moving forward with several initiatives to support Guided Pathways: 

  • The Guided Pathways Committee established a task force to research ESL educational opportunities at CR. The task force determined that a supplemental support course should be developed for English Learners. Faculty are currently working closely with local high schools to develop the support course for ENGL-1A. Angelina thanked English and ESL faculty, Jonathan Maiullo and Laurel Jean, for leading this initiative.
  • One teaching faculty and one counseling faculty have been selected from each of our three academic divisions to serve as Guided Pathways Coordinators. 
  • Kerry Mayer is leading the development of a new Career Center. Kerry is working with the Academic Support Center (ASC) to locate the Center in the ASC. A Strong Workforce plan has been approved to fund the project.

Vice President of Administrative Services Report: Julia’s written report included several important points related to the student centered funding formula (SCFF) and a few bills the Governor signed connected to community colleges.

  • Of the 72 California Community College Districts, 20 were under hold harmless protection in 2018-19.
  • At the Second Principal Apportionment, District funding under the SCFF was constrained to reflect an estimated $103 million shortfall between budgeted resources and full SCFF funding.
  • While not finalized, preliminary recalculation estimates based on updated enrollment, property tax, enrollment fee revenue, and SCFF metrics result in a reduction of most of the previously estimated 2018-19 shortfall.
  • The 2018-19 Recalculation Apportionment could be available in January 2020. Typically, this information isn't available until February of the following fiscal year.
  • The Chancellor's Office is working on determining the final 2019-20 SCFF funding rates based on a Total Computational Revenue (TCR) of $7.43 billion.
  • The new rates will be used to calculate each district's revenue at the First Principal Apportionment in February 2020.
  • A few of the bills signed by Governor Newsom that affect community colleges include:
    • AB 2 - California College Promise.  This bill allows a student enrolling in fewer than 12 units, and part of the Disabled Students Programs and Services, to be considered full-time for the purposes of eligibility for the program.
    • AB 5 - Employees and Independent Contractors.  This bill requires that employers prove that their workers can meet a three-part (ABC) test in order to lawfully be classified as independent contractors.
    • AB 48 - Public Preschool, K-12, and College Health and Safety Bond Act of 2020.  This bill places a $15 billion statewide bond on the March 2020 ballot.  The bond would provide $9 billion for K-12 agencies and $2 billion each for community colleges, the CSU, and UC systems to renovate existing facilities.
    • AB 943 - Student Equity and Achievement (SEA) Program Funds.  This bill authorizes the use of SEA funds for the provision of emergency student financial assistance if emergency student financial assistance is included in the college's plan for intervention to students. As information, the District's GROVE plan calls for providing emergency hotel vouchers to students in 2020-21 and emergency temporary rooms in the Residence Halls are made available for up to 14 days in 2019-20.
    • AB 1313 - Prohibited Debt Collection Practices.  This bill prohibits a public or private university from refusing to provide a transcript for a current or former student based on the grounds that the student owes a debt.

Vice President of Student Development Report: Joe’s report included the following:

  • The Multicultural and Diversity Center (MDC) has several events planned for Spring semester including Fred Korematsu Day (January 30), Black History Month (February), International Women History Celebration (March 9), Cesar Chavez Celebration (March 31), and Asian Pacific Islander Celebration (May 1). The semester will culminate with the Multicultural Graduation Celebration on May 14. 
  • Dr. Kintay Johnson will present information on the District's GROVE program--a program that supports students experiencing housing and food insecurity--in a national webinar on Thursday, January 23 from 10:00-11:15am PST.  The webinar is hosted by SchoolHouse Connection which is a national non-profit organization out of Washington, DC working to overcome homelessness through education.  The webinar is entitled, "How a Small Rural Community College Supports Students Experiencing Homelessness”. 
  • We were allocated $7,082 in supplemental Hunger Free Campus funding. 

Joe thanked the Board for recognizing the men and women’s basketball teams.

Director of Human Resources: Wendy’s report noted that:

  • We updated fifty-seven of the sixty-four Human Resources related BPs and APs reviewed last fall. Seven documents are still under review.
  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Committee is identifying ways to expand diversity in recruitment searches. 
  • She and Ericka Barber will attend another IBB training at Rios Community College District from February 26-28, 2020.

Executive Director of Foundation Report: Marty provided a brief summary of the work of the Foundation Board. Here’s a snapshot of his written report.

  • He and I met with Bryna Lipper, the new CEO of the Humboldt Area Foundation and discussed potential areas of shared interest and collaboration.
  • He met with Patrick Cleary and John Corbett to discuss repurposing $830,000 of Challenge Grant & HAF Endowed Funds.
  • He and Fred Flores are collaborating on a potential community summit related to County Emergency Preparation.
  • He produced a holiday giving 30 second radio PSA for the Foundation. The PSA ran from December 20, 2019 to January 1, 2020 on all local radio stations.

 Future Agenda Items, Reports, Requests for Information

Approve a Trustee Request to Place an Item on a Future Agenda: The Board requested a report relative to the permanent art collection.

Tenure Report and Recommendation: I am pleased to announce that the Board of Trustees approved my recommendation to grant tenure status to Amber Buntin, David Duberow, Anibal Florez, Bernadette Johnson, Cheryl Norton, and Katherine Schoenfield. They also approved entering into a second year of a two-year contract with Levi Gill, Ralph Hafar, Tony Luehrs, and Jonothan Pace; granting a contract for the 2020 and 2021 academic years with Maria Morrow and Christopher Lancaster; and entering into a contract with Jessica Howard for the 2020 academic year.

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