CCC has posted the President for Wilbur Wright College on The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Interested parties may find the posting here.
The search committee is in formation.
Laackman’s Theorem states: “80% of the world’s problems are caused by role confusion.” I have yet to be confronted with a problem for which I cannot find a root cause tied to role confusion. Throughout my career, I have striven to clearly define the roles of team members and organizations. I think deeply about the role of Harold Washington College in the lives of our students. The role faculty play with our students and in leading the college, along with the role my administration plays in supporting faculty and students, has guided my actions as President.
I now find myself in a world of potential role confusion. CCC announced that I will serve as the Interim President, Wilbur Wright College, which I will do while retaining my role as President, Harold Washington College. In this blog post, I will attempt to clarify how I plan to fill those roles.
I remain the President of Harold Washington College. During my twenty months at HWC, I have grown to love this institution. I am proud of our accomplishments, thrilled with our faculty, in awe of what our students overcome and achieve, and energized by the changes ahead. I cannot imagine a better job in the world for me. I love HWC and love being its president. I will remain actively engaged at HWC by relying on my senior leadership team to keep me fully informed, handle day-to-day activities as appropriate, and seek my input. Once Wright’s new President is confirmed, I will return to devoting all of my time as President of Harold Washington.
I am honored and happy to accept the added responsibility. And in my discussion with the Chancellor about taking on Wright, I applied Laackman’s Theorem and worked to define my role at Wright College to ensure clarity and success.
CCC is undertaking a search for a new president for Wright. My role is to oversee Wright College until that new President starts. I expect to have two main priorities while serving this role. The first is ensuring that we continue the focus on ensuring every student who ought to graduate does graduate. The second is to oversee the budget process so that the new President has a solid foundation upon which to begin her or his presidency.
I will have a unique opportunity to learn a great deal about another City College. I will observe first-hand what works well at Wright. I will shamelessly borrow good ideas that I can use at HWC, as I will offer ideas of what I think is working at HWC to my Wright colleagues. I anticipate this role will make me a better president of HWC.
The biggest downside is my time. I hope to spend two days a week at each college, holding Fridays (and, if needed, Saturdays and Sundays) in reserve to spend as necessary at either college. I will have to give a few things up, though, for the time being. I like being accessible to people at HWC. People who wander up to the 11th floor sometimes see my door open, and many have taken the opportunity to wander in to chat or ask a question. For the next few months, there will be fewer of those times.
This arrangement also places new demands on the administrators at both HWC and Wright. I thank them in advance for their support and patience as we work together during this time of transition. I will be as responsive as I can be, but I am also setting the expectation that I may not be as responsive as I or they would like.
To the faculty of Wright College, I promise to listen, engage, and be honest. I will tell you what I think it is appropriate for me to take on, and what issues should be deferred until your new President starts. I encourage you to reach out to colleagues at HWC if you want insight into my style and how they have successfully managed me. I will make mistakes, and ask in advance for your understanding.
Setting aside the lack of sleep I expect to endure, this opportunity excites me. I look forward to the challenge, and feel privileged and grateful to have the Chancellor’s trust to take on this role. I am well aware of Wilbur Wright College’s proud history and considerable success. I hope to honor that history, while leaving very light footprints of my own in the sands of Wright’s affairs. One of my core values is stewardship. Stewardship is about leaving an institution better than when you entered it. That is the role I hope to fulfill, in a small way, during this short time of transition.
Sometime towards the end of Alvin Bisarya’s remarks to the Board of Trustees in September, his voice cracked and his eyes welled up. He had presented on Reinvention progress. His closing remarks were a summation of the progress over the past two years and a hopeful projection of what great things we would do in the future. Alvin was briefly overcome with emotion, and then the moment passed.
What Alvin knew that most did not was that he had decided to leave City Colleges. Today was his last day with us.
I began working with Alvin as we built the Case for Change and then as he started to build the Reinvention teams. We attempted to get together for breakfast every other Friday in the Fall of 2010, but after two meetings, Alvin told us that he was too overwhelmed with work and couldn’t commit to the meetings.
Alvin is one of the hardest working people at City Colleges. He threw his heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears into the Reinvention effort.
Alvin brought considerable strengths to the effort. He possesses a towering intelligence. He has a remarkable ability to summon obscure facts at just the right moment. His training as a medical doctor may have helped him develop this skill. He also has an uncanny ability to visualize a system or a solution, and then translate it into a 45-page PowerPoint document. The McKinsey background probably helps with that skill.
Alvin cared. He cared about his teams, he cared about the Chancellor, and most of all, he cared about our students. Alvin brought an urgency to our efforts because he wanted every student to have every advantage available as they navigated City Colleges.
Alvin cared about faculty and what faculty thought. His experience as a high school science teacher gave him empathy with faculty. Alvin knew first-hand the joys and challenges of teaching students. This brought a sharper edge to his engagement with faculty. He engaged every professor and every attack with a dogged reliance on the data and empirical evidence. I saw him systematically respond with a cool professionalism as he brought the facts to the argument that supported his assertions. In response to well-reasoned arguments, Alvin was open to changing course. Alvin had no incoming bias or agenda other than to find what would help our students.
My only regret with his departure is that we didn’t get to spend more time together. No one had enough time with Alvin. I enjoyed our discussions so much. There is no greater joy than telling a story and hearing Alvin’s piercing laugh, knowing that you have contributed something to the exchange that amused and delighted him. Alvin is a joyful person, and I took so much joy from his companionship.
I have met few people like Alvin. I call them comets. They enter orbit, blazing brightly, full of energy, throwing off streams of beauty. They then leave, headed off to who-knows-where, leaving great memories and hopes of their return.
Tonight, I will raise my glass to Alvin. I am better for having known him. City Colleges is better because of him.
Alvin, you made a difference. You will be missed.
Last night, the Finance Committee of the CCC Board of Trustees convened a review of the proposed CCC FY13 Budget at Kennedy-King College. Vice Chair Ellen Alberding kicked the evening off, followed by Chancellor Hyman, VC Bisarya and interim CFO Dempsey.
Readers may find a summary of the key points from the presentation here. The Finance Committee asked a few questions, mostly focused on how our allocations compare to other community colleges around the country. CFO Dempsey pledged to give those answer at a later time.
The public had three questions – after being given the opportunity to ask questions in person, via Twitter and Facebook. I felt one was a plant by President Follins – the questioner asked the Committee if CCC was continuing to fully support Olive-Harvey College in the FY13 budget. After the Board Members enthusiastically affirmed their support for Olive-Harvey College, we other six Presidents glared at Dr. Follins with envy and admiration. I know I was not alone in wishing I had brought my own community activist to garner enthusiastic Board support for my college.
The overall experience for me was anticlimactic. So many of us worked so hard for so long to assemble our budget. To see it then summarized in a few charts and subsumed into a 50-minute presentation was . . . humbling.
Those adventurous souls interested in the public view of our proposal may find it starting at page 113 of the Budget Book. I found one typo in our section – for which I take full responsibility. I have a special prize for the first person who can find a second typo. For those who want more details on what specific proposals were approved, please see me, Kent Lusk, or your relevant department head. Lots of interesting HWC projects and initiatives are teed up for final Board approval.
Final public hearing, to be followed by the Board vote, takes place on July 12.
The Chronicle published an interactive graphic providing an overview of who completes college where. This page features the 2004 cohort, giving them time to take into account the people who finished within 150% at the four-year colleges.
Valencia College, a model for a lot of the ‘best practice’ Reinvention work, leads all community colleges in the country with 1,020 graduates from the 2004 cohort. You can see a detailed overview of any college in the country, including Harold Washington. The HWC data compares our 2010 5.1% graduation rate (for first-time, full-time students graduating within 150% of a full-time two-year career) to other two-year colleges and the top Illinois community colleges. Other information (74% on financial aid, 27% freshman retention) are also highlighted.
One statistic requires more research – we are one of the most efficient colleges in the country when one looks at cost per completion. Our $10,849 per completion places us 121 out of 131 institutions in our peer group (lower dollars are, I believe, better, meaning you are more efficient), but I believe our results are skewed by the inclusion of all completers (including, I suspect, our taxi program). The efficiency of our sister colleges ranges from $33,223 (Wright) to $62,857 (Truman), which makes all the efficiency data suspect, in my view. I’ll ping our stalwart research team to see if they have insight.
A number of our students and staff received nice coverage on Univision about the importance of filling out FAFSA to qualify for financial aid and Illinois MAP grants. Please urge your students to take the time to fill it out. Harold Washington College also received nice air time, with our new logo prominently featured on the podium.
Thanks to students Jessica and Jose, along with Marco Sepulveda from Malcolm X for doing the heavy lifting in front of the camera, and the great staff at HWC for pulling this off (Gabe, Janice, Dave, and all the people who volunteered to fill the room. See the link to see a bunch of familiar faces).
In my house, the State of the Union is required watching. I was pleased, then, to hear President Obama acknowledge the role community colleges should play in helping to close the skills gap between available jobs and potential employees.
Lynn Sweet has a nice summary here. I give a tip of the hat to a District team that managed to push out CCC’s take on the State of the Union and see it published on Ms. Sweet’s blog at 10:08 pm.
Please engage in a thought experiment with me.
You are the Mayor of Chicago. You have an opportunity to talk to the Economic Club of Chicago (ECC). ECC members are the corporate elite of Chicago – CEOs, Chairmen, Directors, and Managing Partners and Directors of companies such as Walgreens, Aon, McDonalds, Accenture, JP Morgan Chase, Madison-Dearborn Partners, Deloitte, Rush University Medical Center, and Sara Lee. As Mayor, you may have two or three opportunities to address this group over each of your four-year terms. Over 1,200 people will gather to listen to your speech.
You have had a dynamic and energetic start as Mayor. You have taken on tough issues and scored early wins. You are wrestling with significant budget shortfalls in the context of the greatest recession the US has seen in over 70 years. You aspire to keep Chicago as a great, global city. You are committed to improving outcomes for students in K-12 education, putting more police officers on the street, and making Chicago’s environment friendlier to help entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
What do you talk about? What issue do you want to bring to this august gathering of business and civic leaders? What key message do you want to communicate, and in turn, what is the ask? What actions do you want this audience to take? What will you inspire them to do differently tomorrow?
Last night, Mayor Emanuel talked about the importance of City Colleges of Chicago to the future of Chicago. We were not one in a list of major initiatives and policy ideas – we were the whole enchilada. The Mayor talked about CCC as an essential centerpiece to his strategy to link qualified employees with the jobs that Chicago employers cannot fill, even in this recession. Time and again, he mentioned Olive-Harvey, Malcolm X, Harold Washington and our sister schools. He told of meeting a student at the 35th Street Red Line stop who, in the Mayor’s words, is “doing everything right.” This student is holding down a full-time job at a Target distribution warehouse and attending school at Harold Washington. He asked what we – meaning we in the room, the business community, and CCC – what we are doing to ensure this student receives the education he needs to put him on a path to success in Chicago.
I was sitting in the room. I was moved by the times the Mayor was interrupted by applause as he outlined his vision for CCC’s role in Chicago’s future. He then made the pitch, asking the leaders in the room to join CCC in achieving this future. Those leaders embraced the Mayor’s vision. My wife, no stranger to big effing deals, leaned over to me and said, “This is a really big deal.” It is. It is incredibly energizing to know that Mayor Emanuel supports our efforts to make CCC an economic engine of the city. I have already had business leaders reach out to me to ask how they can get involved at HWC.
With this charge comes responsibility. CCC and Harold Washington can no longer toil in the obscure backwaters of higher ed. Our actions will now come under scrutiny, and the business community, having been asked to help, will begin asking what we are doing to hold up our end of the bargain. I want to note that the Mayor did not ask us to walk away from our liberal arts responsibilities, but he did ask for us to re-focus and re-energize the industry-specific training we will offer.
I have already started talking to a small number of faculty about what Harold Washington might become in the months and years ahead. I have asked for ideas, supporting data, and plans. I look forward to additional discussions with faculty and staff on what we need to do to fulfill our role in the Mayor’s vision. I look forward to planning for our role in helping our students achieve their career goals. I look forward to making HWC a centerpiece in the CCC strategy.
Welcome to the Spotlight.
My experience with many workforce efforts has led me to conclude that without the involvement of businesses, any efforts to educate people for jobs are fruitless. Just as we need better alignment of curriculum from high school to college in order to smooth the transition and better prepare students for college-level work, we need better program alignment with industry so that the training we offer aligns with the jobs our students hope to obtain. Otherwise, we are training in an echo chamber, talking to ourselves about what skills students need after guessing what industry may want. If our industry-related programs seek to help our students get jobs, then that training needs to be relevant, rigorous and targeted. We only know that by talking to and engaging the companies who are actually hiring our students.
City Colleges took a big step in that direction today with the first of what I am sure will be many announcements regarding an alignment of programs with industry. As Chancellor Hyman says in today’s Sun-Times, “If we don’t partner with industries and other institutions to align our degrees and certifications with skills gaps, many of our students will miss what is increasingly their only chance to join the middle class.” Going after Goal #1 of the Reinvention agenda, City Colleges is now aggressively partnering with businesses in key industry sectors to better understand what training we need to develop to meet industry needs. As a start, AAR Corp is looking to fill 600 jobs in welding and aerospace mechanics, and Rush University Medical Center will now partner with Malcolm X on allied health careers.
I am encouraged that we are taking steps that academics such as James Rosenbaum and Anthony Carnevale have been advocating. Chicagoans are competing with people from around the world for meaningful, rewarding work. Our internet-connected globe sends work to those people best trained to perform it. Our current unemployment rate and the erosion of middle class jobs (Autor, see slide 4) are alarming. We can watch in despair, or we can take the steps necessary to prepare ourselves. In an article in today’s Financial Times (behind a paywall – see the Library for a copy), Edward Luce lays out the case for the US to regain our “most dynamic market mantle.” He points to lifelong education, in large measure as delivered by community colleges, as a key to America regaining its competitive edge: “Unfortunately, there is no precedent for the challenges America faces, and thus little consensus among economists or policymakers on the best remedies. However, almost everyone agrees on how to ensure the situation does not deteriorate. Top of the list is a better education system for all stages of life.”
In order for Chicagoans to compete in the global economy, we need to do a better job of educating our residents. Some of those residents want to pursue higher education, getting their B.S. or B.A. For those students, we need to continue our efforts in remediation and ensure that we are providing the best two-year liberal arts education available. I was at a Christmas party on Friday night where a colleague told me that a local four-year university considers students we send to them as well or better-prepared than ‘native’ students. We need to continue and improve that excellent result. For those students seeking direct entry into the workforce, we need to ensure that our career programs put our students on pathways to jobs. We do that first by ensuring our program and curricular offerings are in alignment with the skills employers are seeking. Today, CCC has announced our intent to ensure we are doing that. I look forward to future announcements.
The elevator doors opened on our way down. Six effervescent young women entered. One, recognizing me, said with a laugh, “We’re WICKED.”
I knew WICKED was a new student group. I asked what the acronym stood for.
“Women Integrating Culture, Knowledge and Ethnic Diversity.”
The doors opened again, and five of the six women left, continuing their cheerful discussions. One woman remained. As the doors closed, I turned and introduced myself.
“Today is my lucky day,” she said, “I have been wanting to meet the president.”
I smiled involuntarily, not letting the apparent flattery overwhelm my sense that some type of request was coming my way. It came quickly.
“Do you have some time to talk now?”
I was late for a dinner appointment, but told the student that if she did not mind walking with me, I’d be happy to talk to her. She told me she would walk until Madison, where she needed to catch her bus west.
“My name is Catherine, and I wanted to talk to you about re-instating the payment plan for international students. As you know, international students pay a great deal more than Chicago residents in tuition, and we are not eligible for financial aid. The payment plan enabled me to budget for my semester, but without it, I will be unable to register for classes and INS will have no choice but to deport me. As an SGA senator, it is my duty to speak up on behalf of my fellow international students. As an institution that pledges ‘access AND success,’ I believe reinstatement of the plan is critical for us.”
I was aware of the issue. Our Executive Director, Kent, was working with District to see what we could work out. I told Catherine I was sympathetic to her plight, and that Kent was working on it. Had she spoken to him? She had not.
With three blocks left until we hit Madison, I asked her where she was from.
“Haiti,” she said.
What do you want to study?
“Civil Engineering. I want to gain the necessary skills so that I can help re-build my country.”
We talked some more, about her country and her commitment. We talked about Harold Washington. As we hit Madison, I handed her my card. Please email me, I asked, so that I can get your contact information and make you aware of any developments. She did email me, expanding on the points she made during our hurried walk, and I forwarded the email to Kent so that he could further bolster his case.
Today, I emailed Catherine that the payment plan has been reinstated.
Thanks to Kent, who made me aware of the issue and did the leg work to demonstrate that the financial impact of reinstating the payment plan was de minimus. Thanks to Preston and the rest of the folks at District for listening and changing the policy.
And thanks most of all to Catherine, for her courage to speak up and for her trust in Harold Washington College to provide her with the education necessary to help her re-build her country.
Let us honor that trust.