Every year, the Mass. State College Association has a series of meetings of chapter presidents, statewide leadership and delegates. In the spring, a more open meeting of delegates from all of the state universities occurs. This year’s meeting was held on April 30 at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzard’s Bay. I came in a bit late due to some issues with my vehicle, but caught the tail end of our welcome and introduction to the campus from Rear Admiral Richard Gurnon, USMS, president of the academy. President/Admiral Gurnon discussed the work of the MMA as well as the facilities. Students at the academy all end up with 6 months of practical work experience by the time of graduation. Westfield State Chapter vice president Buzz Hoagland asked the admiral about the turbine on campus. Gurnon responded that wind power and solar array panels at times can generate 100% of the power for the campus – in recent days, the campus was selling electricity back to the grid.
After our call to order and delegation report, we adopted the agenda and heard reports from the MSCA vice president Amy Everitt and secretary Nancy George (Salem State). The big report and longest moment of discussion comes, like in the annual MTA meeting, during the budget discussion. Treasurer Glenn Pavlicek (Bridgewater State) sends out a detailed budget packet ahead of the delegation meeting and members examine the proposed lines as well as the past trends in budget spending.
This year, our membership asked questions about the MSCA investment fund – why do we have it? Can we use money from it to reduce dues, etc. Glenn explained that the fund was down to $400,000 as recently as two years ago and that the organization was in the red only ten years ago. The investment fund is intended to be used to pay for events like renting space in the event of a lockout, increased negotiation fees, etc. Vice President Everitt indicated that the money may be necessary in 2012 during our next negotiation session. There were questions about our current investments in terms of ethics, volatility, etc. Glenn suggested the need to get a committee together to consider investments (ethics, amount, etc.)
The budget was approved after a number of questions about various line items including the budget for web page maintenance and email, publications, and more thoughts on the investments. We agreed with Treasurer Pavlicek’s approved reduction of dues for part-time folks. The new dues structure of part-timers reflects a more fair % of part-timers income.
After a motion to accept the second report of credentials committee, the delegation made a quick set of amendments to the MSCA constitution. Most of these changes reflected our recent change from state college to state university. We also changed to the use of the word ‘agreement’ in place of contract. Whether the MSCA itself will change its name is under discussion.
Another interesting aspect of the annual delegate meeting is hearing the statewide grievance report, this year delivered by Sandra Faiman-Silva, Bridgewater State. In this report, the membership gains an understanding of some of the issues that the statewide union is dealing with at the various state university campuses. MSCA and MTA attorney/consultant Donna Sirutis emphasized that we need to fight at the local chapter level with the college presidents on class size issues. eg, Fitchburg example – they were awarded 7 additional faculty hires by pushing on class size.
Ron Colbert, Fitchburg State, reported as region 45 H director of the MTA – he is also on Higher Education Leadership Council. Ron pointed out that as in years past, there are issues that we all as MTA members don’t agree on – the community college folks ally with state university campuses, but the k-12 and the university people do not always share the same concerns/etc. Ron also revealed that it looks like we’re in for some uphill battles k-college – these issues could be budgetary, collective bargaining, etc.
Ron also spoke to us about an issue I addressed in the previous post – this ties to race to the top stuff – the fact that evaluation is different in every community, so the MTA is proposing guidelines on administrator evaluations to ensure that teachers are evaluated well by administrators so that the teachers don’t get tenure and professional status inappropriately.
Ron closed by pointing out that the state universities need to keep an eye on the vision project – we need to start thinking about what happened to our colleagues k-12 regarding linking tests to teacher performance, etc.
Our final report credentials – 32 delegates 6 guest, 38 total.
Again, it’s a bit of a town hall format so if you like that sort of thing, and I do, I encourage MSCA members to attend as delegates. Westfield State for example, could send as many as 16 delegates to this meeting, but we tend to only send three or four. I’m hoping that next year I can convince more of our membership to get involved with the meeting. It’s not incredibly long and it gives chapter members the chance to interact with the state leaders and get a better sense of strategies and ‘mood in the room’ as it were.
We had a lovely lunch afterward on the messdeck featuring a cool device that Buzz and I checked out – the Moobella ice cream machine. Odd but interesting fun as the machine makes the ice cream in front of you. You can check out this video made at a different campus showing you how to use a Moobella. Different – but not bad ice cream.
Check out the Academy on their webcams!