College president rejects notion of evaluation by faculty

skinney@keynoter.comDecember 14, 2013 

Florida Keys Community College's Faculty Council received some pushback from college President Jonathan Gueverra and the Board of Trustees over an evaluation of the administration distributed to teaching staff on Monday.

Sharon Farell, a history professor and vice president of the Faculty Council, described the anonymous survey as "informational" during a Thursday trustees meeting on the college's main Stock Island campus.

The Faculty Council hopes the survey results will identify problems between staff and administrators so the two sides could use them to address those problems.

A letter from Faculty Council President Dawn Ellis, who was at a conference in Orlando, gives context for the evaluations: "With the continuing decline in enrollment and the high attrition rate of faculty, the necessity of knowing this information has become ever more valuable."

Since December 2012, Board of Trustees minutes reflect six resignations. College spokeswoman Amber Ernst-Leonard confirmed three more resignations that will go into effect by the end of the year.

In the same time frame, three faculty positions were eliminated and one faculty member was fired.

Considering a standing faculty count between 20 and 25 -- there are currently 23 full-time faculty members -- that's an attrition rate of 56 percent in the past 12 months. Singling out resignations, the rate is 39 percent.

Gueverra, speaking about the faculty-led evaluation of his administration, stressed to trustees the mechanism is unofficial and not vetted by him.

"This survey was never approved as an official instrument, which is why it has never come to the board," he said.

Asked by board Chairman Bobby Stoky what the goal of the survey is, Farell said, "I believe it will improve communications at the college and I believe that it will help."

"At the end of the day," Gueverra told trustees, "I do what I think is the best job possible being open and transparent. This board is the group I report to. You're my evaluators. I'm not sure what this is intending to accomplish."

Trustee Tim Koenig, appointed by Gov. Rick Scott in August, questioned how the faculty can unilaterally call for, then disseminate, a survey.

"This is not an unusual thing," Farell said, adding that a similar survey is used by institutions such as the University of Texas and University of Michigan.

The evaluations are due back to the Faculty Council on Tuesday. From there, Ellis will work with the college's Human Resources Department to compile and summarize the results, then present them to Gueverra.

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