Mass firings roil ACC
The college, with 29,000 students, stands to lose its accreditation if the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools decides ACC has made inadequate progress on the issue when it reviews the college in September. Friday's announcement came as little surprise to the ACC community, who have known since April that many jobs were in jeopardy. But it did kill hopes that the college would dispute SACS' credentialing requirements, which many faculty feel are unrealistic. SACS requires that faculty members have 18 hours of graduate course work in the area they teach. Fair enough. But what exactly constitutes an "area"? Some government teachers, for example, will be out of a job because their graduate degrees are in public policy or public administration. Similarly, vocational teachers often have years of real-world experience in the areas they teach, rather than college course work.
College administrators say they're doing all they can to handle the crisis. Full-time faculty will continue to be paid as they make up their requirements, and adjunct (part-time) faculty will have their jobs reinstated once their credentials are in order. But many faculty members still complain of poor communication from ACC leaders; SACS first told the administration about the issue of improper credentials in March 2003, and instructors say that if ACC had warned them sooner, their jobs would be secure by now.
English teacher Laurie Meyers, who did her English work as an undergrad and earned a master's degree in liberal arts, says she got a letter last fall saying her credentials were in order. But in April, she was told the opposite: She would have to earn 15 hours of graduate course work in English to teach in the fall. "That's a human impossibility, not to mention a financial one," she said. She can't teach again until at least next June. In the meantime, she has to figure out how to make up the $1,900 a month she's losing by not teaching the three ACC courses she's been teaching for more than 20 years.
But ACC says it couldn't have acted any sooner. "We've done as much as we can to keep everyone informed," said Donetta Goodall, associate vice-president for academic affairs. "This is an anxious period for us all." She says the administration misunderstood SACS' March 2003 warning: They thought that the issue was missing documentation of credentials (such as lost transcripts), rather than missing credentials (that is, hours of course work) themselves. Plus, SACS changed its rules in January 2004, suddenly raising the bar for faculty at ACC and other community colleges. The administration pointed out that instructors in Dallas and El Paso have also been let go over this same issue.
The administration's confusion means little to many out-of-work faculty. A group of them, including Meyers, is working on a response that will probably include legal action against the college. It will certainly include continued bad feelings and mistrust for a college struggling to get off on the right foot as new president Robert Aguero takes over July 1.
Kimberly Reeves, Fri., June 8, 2007
Rachel Proctor May, Fri., Sept. 3, 2004
Rachel Proctor May, Fri., July 9, 2004
Rachel Proctor May, Fri., July 9, 2004
Lee Nichols, Fri., Nov. 21, 2003
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