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History of the Johnston Community College Faculty Association


Initial discussion of a faculty association for JCC began with the effort to create a statewide association for community college faculty. An October 11, 1998 meeting in Greensboro of faculty from across the state, attending a NCCCS Instructors' Conference, led to the formation of a steering committee, a state association web site, and the NCCCFA. Upon returning from the Instructors' Conference, several small groups of JCC faculty began to discuss among themselves the possibility of a faculty association for JCC.

A number of circumstances gave encouragement to these faculty members. NCCCS President Martin Lancaster's remarks of encouragement at the Instructors' conference and newsletters of the progress of the NCCCFA provided inspiration to JCC faculty. Jim Davies' November 5, 1998 letter to community college presidents throughout NC helped introduce the statewide association to the college's administrations and encouraged their support of a local faculty association. The JCC college administration itself was in transition at the time. Former JCC President John Tart had retired in August 1998 and Dr. Jerry Owens was serving as Acting President until Dr. Don Reichard could assume the position in January 1999. To several faculty members, this transition presented the best opportunity possible for greater faculty participation in college affairs through the establishment of a local faculty association.

Acting on this opportunity, four faculty members, Rebecca Francis, Kay Lanier, Cliff Mitchell, and Don Stephenson, sent a memo in November 1998 to JCC faculty poling their interest in establishing a faculty association at JCC. Twenty-eight members of the faculty responded indicating an interest and various levels of willingness to be involved in its' establishment. A memo was sent to all faculty inviting them to attend an organization meeting to be held December 7, 1998 and formulation of plans to create an association began. A small but significant number of faculty attended the meeting and plans were made to hold a faculty-wide meeting in January to adopt a plan of organization and to form a steering committee to coordinate its implementation.

On January 12, 1999, a faculty meeting was held which adopted a plan of organization and appointed a Steering Committee and four working committees: Membership, Constitution & Bylaws, Goals and Objectives, and Publications and Information. A goal to create a faculty association for JCC by the end of spring semester 1999 was established. A letter was sent by e-mail to all faculty informing them of the results of the organization meeting and referring them to a web site that had been created as a source for communicating association activities. The e-mail included web links to minutes from the January 12 meeting, to the JCC Faculty web page, and to the state faculty association web page. A follow-up e-mail and written memo were sent out on January 25 when it was discovered that not all faculty had e-mail accounts. Communication with all faculty, at both on and off-campus locations, would continue to be a major problem for the association.

On January 28, 1999, an organizational meeting was held by the Steering Committee, composed of the chairs of the four organizational committees: Debbie Bobbitt, Karen Borsos, Cliff Mitchell, and Shane Wells; and three additional faculty members chosen at-large: Brenda Abbott, Rebecca Francis, and Don Stephenson. A schedule was adopted for committee work and their reports and plans were made for a faculty-wide meeting in early April for submission of a Constitution and Bylaws for approval by the faculty by secret ballot.

A meeting was held by the Steering Committee with JCC's new president, Dr. Reichard, on February 10, 1999. The purpose was to inform the president of the association's progress and to discuss his expectations and comments on the role of a faculty association. Dr. Reichard was fully supportive of our efforts and his encouragement throughout this effort has been invaluable.

During meetings held March 18 and 19, 1999, the Steering Committee reviewed the Constitution and Bylaws Committee's report and adopted a document to be recommended to the faculty for ratification. A copy of the proposed Constitution and Bylaws was placed on the association web site and a memo was sent to all faculty encouraging their study and discussion of the document. A faculty-wide meeting on April 6 was scheduled to formally present the document to the faculty and schedule procedures for its ratification and for the election of Association General Officers.

During a general faculty meeting held April 6, 1999, the Constitution and Bylaws were discussed and several amendments were adopted. The document was then accepted as amended and ratification by secret ballot was scheduled during the period between April 9 and April 23. Five faculty members were nominated for the four elected Association General Officers and a secret ballot election was scheduled to occur along with the Constitution ratification. Plans for selection of representatives from the Faculty Divisions were made. Ballots and a memo outlining the election process were sent to each faculty member on April 9.

On April 26, 1999, results of the election were announced. Approximately one-half of the ballots originally mailed to the faculty were returned. The Constitution and Bylaws were overwhelmingly approved and Association General Officers were elected: Don Stephenson, President; Cliff Mitchell, Vice-President; Karen Borsos, Secretary; and Debbie Bobbitt, Treasurer. The first general meeting of the association was scheduled for May 20, 1999.

The first general meeting of the JCC Faculty Association began with remarks by the new president, Don Stephenson, in which he identified five challenges facing the association: participation, communication, process, results, and patience. The results of the election were officially announced to the faculty. Selection was made of members for the Standing Committees: Bylaws, Publications and Communications, Membership, and Issues. Two study groups were created: one to study faculty leave policy and another to study faculty workload policy for fall 1999.

Beginning in June 1999, the Executive Committee of the JCC Faculty Association began almost weekly meetings to organize for the coming year and to coordinate the activities of the faculty leave and faculty workload policy work groups, both immediate issues of concern.

Creating an association for faculty at JCC has taken the hard work and creativity of many members of the faculty and the assistance and inspiration of community college faculty at other NC campuses and in the NCCCFA. Assistance has been most helpful in the collection of faculty association/assembly/senate constitutions and in advice offered concerning communication. While there were initially several groups of JCC faculty separately discussing an association in the fall of 1998, it took the action of a couple of faculty members to organize that discussion, create a plan of action, and call for meetings. The importance of that small group of organizers cannot be overemphasized.

The interest and support of the college administration, especially that of Dr. Owens and later Dr. Reichard, also helped the process forward in many important ways. There was a determination to establish an association, whether or not their support was forthcoming, but their support clearly helped legitimize the process and helped inspire the creation of an organization that can make a significant contribution to the college's future, not just to the future of the faculty. Dr. Reichard is currently introducing a planning process and a committee structure to JCC that includes faculty and staff participation in the decision-making process of the college. The Faculty Association will be included in that organization.

There remain a number of issues that the association must address to make the Faculty Association a permanent and effective part of JCC. The problem of communication to the faculty remains one of identification of faculty as members are hired and leave the organization and of establishing efficient means of correspondence between on and off-campus locations. Member participation in association activities is another issue facing the association. Effectiveness of the association in campus affairs and participation by its members largely depends on the creditability established during this first year. That creditability largely depends upon how well the association responds to the challenges and issues of the coming year and how well the association identifies and meets the needs of its members and those of the college at large.

Much that we can be proud of has been accomplished. Much more remains to be done!

Cliff Mitchell
June 6, 1999

 
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