The Essex County College Adjunct Faculty Federation held a membership meeting on July 16, 2020 via zoom.
Many thanks to Mark Brodsky, the Chapter’s Secretary/Treasurer, for facilitating the zoom invitation.
The meeting began with a welcome and the encouragement for everyone do all they can to stay safe and healthy.
Our annual Scholarship Luncheon was postponed because of the pandemic. It will resume when it is safe to do so.
The leadership acknowledged how well everyone rose to the huge challenge of pivoting from teaching in-person to teaching online. Those challenges included, but were not limited to; learning to use zoom, learning to use Moodle, tracking down students, complying with the 504 accommodations of differently-abled students, complying with the numerous emails sent from ECC Administration, adapting to the changes to the academic calendar, and more.
Through all of these frustrations, challenges, and stressors, adjunct faculty reached out and supported one another in a true sense of brotherhood and unity.
Dr. Anthony Munroe announced that he was leaving ECC to become President of the Borough of Manhattan Community College. As of this posting, Dr. Auguste Boakye has been appointed Acting Interim President of ECC. A transition like this, by its nature, brings a degree of instability.
One of Dr. Munroe’s major projects was to improve student retention. His primary focus was on the MATH 086, MATH 092, and ENG 086 courses. Embedded tutors were placed in the classes, tutoring hours were enhanced and some of the 100 level courses in those disciplines were combined with the 00 level courses depending on the students’ majors. The resulting studies and statistics showed that progress was being made. We asked the adjunct faculty how it affected them. There didn’t appear to be any issues for adjunct faculty with those strategies.
The discussion moved to the College’s finances. On June 24, 2020, ECC Administration reported to us that state funding to the College would be reduced by 50%. They also reported that all of the monies from the CARES Act, upward of $7.8M, had not been allocated because there were no clear guidelines on how it could be spent. The portion of the CARES Act that was specifically designated for students was distributed to them. That amount was $3.8M.
The College has declared “financial exigency.” There is a plan being developed with strategies to address same. Administration suggested they may have to resort to “RIF” (Reduction In Force).
Our negotiations with ECC Administration have not been as productive as we hoped they would be, despite our efforts. We will continue to press for the acknowledgement, respect, and compensation we deserve.
Our meeting included an open discussion among members. Questions were addressed and, again, members offered to lend each other a helping hand to meet the challenges of navigating Moodle and Zoom.
In all, it was a collaborative, informative and uplifting experience. Colleagues who haven’t been able to attend our regular meetings were able to participate. We will schedule more zoom meetings on the future.
As you read this message, we sincerely hope that you and your families are well. There are brighter days ahead.
Lynne Peterson Cummins