Organizational Structure Task Force Final Report

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est Valley College

Organizational Structure Task Force Final Report

Instructional Services

Prepared by: Lance Shoemaker and Janis Kea

Org. Review Matrix References:


The 2008 California Collegiate Brain Trust Final Report noted that assessment of the current organizational structure of the District and each college is necessary for the institution to achieve the goals of becoming more efficient and generating cost-savings. In response to the Report as well as the budget challenges that the District and West Valley College face, various constituent groups in the WVC community have made proposals for an assessment and possible reorganization of the instructional administration component of the College.
To ensure that faculty would have a voice, that faculty concerns would be addressed, and that accurate information would be provided to faculty, the WVC Academic Senate formed the Organizational Structure Task Force (OST) in May 2009. The aim of the OST is to prepare, for the Academic Senate, a plan or set of recommendations that would address three goals:

  1. reduce costs and/or improve efficiency (i.e., doing what needs to get done with less staff and lower costs),

  2. increase accountability, and

  3. enhance the College’s focus on students.

This report, prepared by the co-chairs of the OST, summarizes the OST's discussions and research and provides a set of recommendations for consideration by the Administration, faculty, and staff of West Valley College.

During the spring semester of 2009, the Chancellor consulted with the West Valley College Academic Senate to discuss re-examining the instructional administration of the College. In particular, the Chancellor asked the Academic Senate to evaluate various organizational structures, including a wholly-Dean structure (that would replace the existing Division Chair structure) as well as hybrid structures that may incorporate both Deans and Division Chairs.
After consultations with the Senate, the Chancellor agreed to work with a subcommittee that the Senate would appoint (OST) to research the issue of improving instructional administration. The Chancellor requested that OST prepare a set of recommendations by the end of October 2009.
In late May, the Academic Senate, under then–Senate President Angelica Bangle, appointed incoming Senate President, Lance Shoemaker, and a representative of the Division Chair Council, Janis Kea, to co-chair OST. Volunteers from faculty, including but not limited to Academic Senators and Division Chairs, as well as administration representatives, were solicited.
Although the makeup of the task force has fluctuated somewhat, the core membership of this group has included the following members:
Lance Shoemaker

Janis Kea

David Fishbaugh

Celine Pinet

Jim Henderson

Diane Hurd

Joan Worley

Nancy Ghodrat

John Hannigan

Tim Kelly

Julie Maia
All OST meetings have been open to anyone who wishes to participate.
OST held numerous meetings (averaging 2–3 hours) between May and October, and minutes of each meeting were distributed to all OST members, Academic Senators, Division Chairs, and Laurel Kinley.
While OST had originally agreed to provide recommendations to the Chancellor by the end of October, OST members believed that additional input and feedback from faculty was needed about the issues that were discussed over the summer. In particular, at the start of the Fall 2009 semester, a number of faculty members expressed interest in learning more about the dean structure and the potential for a restructuring of departments and divisions that could result in moving towards a dean structure. Thus, upon further consultation with Chancellor Hendrickson and President Gaskin, the OST postponed submission of its final report until the end of the Fall 2009 semester. In October, the OST presented a forum to provide views of alternate structures to the WVC community, and in November, the OST conducted a survey to gather input and feedback on three scenarios for reorganization.
This report summarizes the discussions at OST meetings, the feedback/perspectives presented at the forum and the results of the survey.
Alternative Organizational Structures for Instructional Administration
This section evaluates three proposed structures according to the three goals identified by Chancellor Hendrickson: (1) efficiency, (2) accountability and (3) student focus. The three proposals are: (1) a wholly-Dean structure (i.e., no Division Chairs) with the Deans being selected from external/internal applicants; (2) a wholly-Dean structure (i.e., no Division Chairs) with Deans being selected from WVC faculty who serve a 3-year term; and (3) continue with the Division Chair-Dean hybrid structure with modifications to increase authority, accountability and student focus.
It should be noted that because no clear definitions and measurements of these goals were developed, and because neither the Administration nor the faculty of the College has proposed a specific new structure, the OST discussions were general in nature and a more specific assessment of the pros/cons of Deans was not always possible.

  1. Full-time administrative Deans (no Division Chairs), selected from internal/external applicants

Instructional administration is a year-round task that involves not only the planning/scheduling/management of courses each semester/year and the day-to-day operations surrounding the provision of instruction to students, but also strategic assessment of curriculum at the Program, Division and College-wide levels.

  • Under the current structure (a hybrid of Division Chairs and Deans), the Division Chairs (who are given 0.5 reassigned time and are 11-month employees) are not always available to assist the VP of Instruction in executing certain tasks or carrying out assignments in a timely fashion. This is particularly true for the summer and winter sessions, when class management (i.e., cancellation/addition of sections) issues arise.

  • Based on the current contract, the authority of the Division Chairs is, in many instances, limited and does not allow Division Chairs (in consultation with the VP of Instruction) to make critical decisions about class scheduling/management or budgetary matters at the department level.

  • Because Division Chairs must also teach (making up the other 0.5 of their load), they may not be able to assist the VP of Instruction in both day-to-day operations (for example, student complaints) and medium- and long-term strategic planning (for example, assessment of retention and success rates at the division/department/program levels, developing programs for emerging new fields, etc.)

  • The loyalties and perspectives of Division Chairs, as faculty members, are divided and may sometimes conflict with the goals/needs of the College as a whole. Because faculty select their Chairs and because the Chairs represent specific divisions, they may be reticent to be frank in discussions and decisions (fearing that their comments will get back to their faculty) and or may adopt a protective stance over their divisions/departments.

  • Division Chairs, given their teaching load and administrative duties, are unable to assist the VP of Instruction in developing medium- and long-term strategies for meeting changing student, community, and business demands.

An organizational structure that consists of full-time administrative Deans (to replace the existing Division Chairs) would address these kinds of problems. Not only would the Dean be a 12-month employee, but as a full-time Dean, he/she would be able to focus on the needs/challenges of the specific programs/departments under his/her jurisdiction while at the same time, balancing it with the overall health and sustainability of the college as a whole. This structure would be able to provide a clearer line-of-sight in terms of chain of command and authority, responsibility and accountability (as compared to the current structure), and allow for more timely decision-making. Under the immediate direction of the VP of Instruction, Deans would be charged with implementing policies/actions and held directly accountable to the VP for efficient and effective actions and outcomes.

While this hierarchical structure has the advantages noted above, there is concern over what may be lost under such a structure.

  • Assuming that each Dean would be responsible for two or more divisions, it is not altogether clear that the Dean would in fact be able to fully understand the needs and complexities of each department/program under his/her jurisdiction. Currently Division Chairs’ offices are located in close proximity to their departments and faculty, allowing each Chair to have direct day-to-day contact with faculty, department chairs, and students. Deans that are responsible for two or more divisions would not have this advantage and connection with faculty.

  • A Dean’s effectiveness and efficiency will be evaluated on a one-sided basis, from the perspective of Administration. WVC faculty who worked at the College when it last had a Dean structure informed the OST that a significant disadvantage of the Dean structure was the lack of faculty input and feedback on the performance of Deans (also in the selection of the Deans). While the direct line of command in this structure may lead to more timely decision making, this line of command also eliminates the important role of faculty and department chairs in making decisions that will have a direct impact on faculty and their students. Additionally, full-time Deans could potentially ignore the input of faculty who are “in the trenches” and have in-depth knowledge of their own department and fields.

  • Deans are more “at arm’s length” in interacting with students and faculty, as compared to Division Chairs. Chairs currently teach classes and are in direct, day-to-day contact with students. As a result, Chairs tend to have a perspective that can appreciate both the views of the student as well as the faculty, which in turn allows for resolution of student issues to the satisfaction of both constituencies.

  1. Full-time administrative Deans (no Division Chairs), selected from WVC faculty serving three-year terms

A second proposal considered is to have full-time Deans (again replacing Division Chairs), with the Deans being selected from current WVC faculty who serve on a three-year term (with the possibility of a second term).

Similar to the first proposal, this structure, which consists of full-time Deans, would allow for year-round administration of instructional issues to assist the VP of Instruction and would provide several advantages over the current hybrid Division Chair–Dean structure. However, some of the advantages of the first proposal may be lost. For example:

  • Because this would be a temporary assignment for faculty, the problem of divided loyalties and perspectives identified in the current Division Chair structure may also occur under this proposed structure. In fact, it is possible that under this structure, the territorial tendency in the Division Chair structure would be extended to even larger territories under Deans.

  • Is it reasonable to expect a faculty member to make difficult decisions that may adversely impact a specific program/department in one year, and then return in a couple of years to that same department/division as colleagues? While this is a situation that many Division Chairs face under the current structure, the decisions are made with greater consultation and feedback from the parties affected (partly due to the wording in the contract as well as the focus on shared governance). In contrast, under a Dean structure, a Dean is given more authority to make such decisions and may do so without consulting faculty/department chairs (under the direction of the VP of Instruction). Will a faculty member who has served as a Dean be welcomed “back into the fold” upon the end of his/her term or not?

  1. Keep existing hybrid of Division Chair–Dean structure, with modifications to the current structure

A third proposal was to basically maintain the current hybrid structure, with both Division Chairs and Deans, with possible modifications to address some of the issues identified with the current system. Much of the OST discussions and feedback from faculty focused on this third proposal. We have made specific recommendations about this third proposal in the next section.

In the analyses of the three proposals, two questions continued to be raised throughout the discussions: (i) what problem are we trying to solve? (ii) is this the right time to consider any change in organizational structure, particularly the proposal to have more (and perhaps only) Deans, given the current fiscal and budget crisis?
The results of the OST survey indicate that the current hybrid Division Chair–Dean structure is satisfactory or more than satisfactory to the majority of those surveyed. It should be noted that the survey respondents were mostly faculty, (and full-time over part-time faculty). Nevertheless, the general survey feedback about the current structure is positive. From the view of many faculty members, there is not an apparent serious problem with the existing structure, and therefore, many have trouble understanding “what problem are we trying to solve?” Survey participants did suggest increasing the authority and decision making responsibility of Division Chairs.
What about the question of “Is this the right time to consider any change in organizational structure given our current fiscal and budget situation?” In particular, can we afford to have more Deans or to replace Division Chairs with Deans? A past report prepared for the Division Chair Council by Janis Kea and Julie Maia demonstrated that the cost of the current Division Chair structure is lower than having two or more additional Deans, so to what extent would WVC achieve cost savings by replacing the current Division Chairs with Deans?
Based on these concerns, the OST recommends the adoption of the third approach: continue to work within the current hybrid Division Chair–Dean structure with modifications to improve efficiency, enhance student focus, and in certain areas, achieve cost savings.
The OST identified three main modifications: (1) reallocation of the release time of department and division chairs to better reflect the workload of the department/division chairs; (2) consolidation of departments and possibly divisions; and (3) raising the accountability and effectiveness of Division Chairs by providing DCs with more authority to be balanced by greater accountability.

  • Reallocation of Assigned Time

The OST recommends that regardless of whether or not the College reduces the cumulative amount of reassigned time, there needs to be a more equitable allocation of the time across Division Chairs, Department Chairs and Special Project Leaders. The current reassigned time allocations to individual Department Chairs were developed many years ago, and reassigned time has been added to support special projects in fiscal surplus years. Over the decades, departments/projects have grown and/or contracted as the needs/requirements of some have changed. As a result, the current distribution of reassigned time does not reflect the workload of Division Chairs, Department Chairs, and Project Leaders equitably.

Specifically, the OST recommends that West Valley College adopt an objective algorithm to determine reassigned time for each Department Chair. An objective algorithm should take into account the complexity of individual departments that may not be reflected if a department is only evaluated solely on one criterion, such as FTEF. Such an algorithm should consider factors such as a department’s number of faculty and classified staff, discretionary operating budget, equipment inventory, subject areas, number of classes per semester, the ratio of full-time to part-time faculty, accreditation/licensing bodies, etc. An example of such an algorithm is the Department Chair compensation formula from Los Rios Community College, which we attached to our earlier Progress Report. Although the Los Rios algorithm may be more detailed than what West Valley College chooses to adopt, it is useful in terms of how this compensation scheme attempts to account for the complexities of running a department. Using objective criteria also avoids having departments plead "special" cases about why they deserve more reassigned time than others do. By sticking to objective criteria, there should be more acceptance of newly allocated reassigned time.
The OST makes no recommendation about whether the total of amount of reassigned time should be reduced. Although the Division Chair Council has recently gone through an exercise to look at cutting 20% of Department Chair reassigned time, we are not aware of any concrete proposals to reduce the total amount of reassigned time. Whatever amount of reassigned time is deemed to be an acceptable target by the College, the College should distribute that amount according to an objective algorithm as suggested above.

  • Department/Division Consolidation

As noted in our previous Progress Report, the DCC has already created a proposal to consolidate the number of departments from 46 to 22. The DCC drafted this proposal based on the following criteria: (1) a minimum 13 FTEF per department (based on five full-time faculty and 1–2 adjunct faculty); (2) compatibility of disciplines; and (3) pedagogical similarities. The specific consolidations were discussed in an attachment in our earlier Progress Report.

Recently, the OST decided to separate the issues of departmental consolidation and reallocation of reassigned time due to the sensitivity of some faculty to the issue of consolidation. Although the proposed consolidations were only presented as starting points for initial discussion on these issues, the consolidation scenarios have been met with opposition, alarm, and concern among faculty.
Instead, OST recommends revisiting the department consolidation issue after WVC has determined: (1) the total amount of reassigned time to be allocated across the College, and (2) the allocation of reassigned time to Division Chairs, Department Chairs, and Special Project Leaders, based upon the objective algorithm referenced above. It is our belief that once the chairs of smaller departments realize how little reassigned time is given for Department Chair duties, the rationale for consolidation may make more sense. Therefore, we recommend approaching the consolidation issue after a new allocation of reassigned time has been completed.

  • Strengthening Division Chair Authority

In the earlier Progress Report, there was general acknowledgment that changes should be made to the existing Division Chair structure to improve effectiveness, efficiency and accountability. As was noted in a previous section, the problems include, but are not limited to: Division Chairs only work 11 months (versus year-round); Division Chairs are not full-time Chairs (only 50% reassigned time with teaching responsibilities as well); Division Chairs may have divided loyalties between faculty and administration perspectives; and Division Chairs cannot easily be released from their duties as Division Chair. Moreover, because of contract language, Division Chairs do not have direct authority over class scheduling and management as well as class enrollments.

The OST has been fortunate to have had the active participation of four Division Chairs, the VP of Instruction, and the Dean of Instruction. Their insights helped other OST members understand some of the challenges with the existing system. Based upon numerous discussions, the OST has arrived at the following recommendations regarding changing the existing function/role of Division Chairs.
1) Class Management: This includes class cancellation, class scheduling and class enrollments.

  • Class cancellation: Division Chairs need to have the authority to cancel low-enrolled sections. Under the current structure, cancellation of sections is at the discretion of Department Chairs. Division Chairs may consult with Department Chairs on cancellation, but pursuant to the current ACE contract so long as the Department is achieving the targets identified in its performance goal plan (submitted and approved by the Performance Goals Committee), Division Chairs do not have the authority to cancel course sections.

In recent months and partly in response to the budget/fiscal situation, the Performance Goals Committee (PGC) has become more aggressive in class cancellations. The PGC has implemented a process whereby classes with low enrollments are critically reviewed and evaluated each semester. A set of guidelines for class cancellation has been drafted, where the criteria are flexible enough to take into account pedagogical needs and obligations of the college as defined in the Education Code. While this process has been successful in raising efficiency (calculated by WSCH/FTEF ratios), Division Chairs are still in the position of consulting with Department Chairs who have the final say in class cancellation.

  • Class scheduling: Division Chairs, in consultation with Department Chairs and PGC, should be able to modify section offerings if the schedule of courses do not fulfill student needs/demands. Under the current structure, Department Chairs have sole discretion on what courses to offer, the day/time the courses are to be offered, as well as the format/mode of instruction. Unfortunately, in a few instances, courses/sections are offered to accommodate faculty preferences rather than student demand. For example, a faculty may only wish to offer sections during prime time or on certain days (MW or TTh) and/or may wish to minimize his/her prep time for courses and thus may offer multiple sections of the same course in any given semester. This can be a problem for smaller departments that have a limited number of sections to offer to students each semester.

  • Class enrollments/capacity: The process by which class enrollment caps (or capacities) are established is not clear to OST. In past PGC discussions the WVC Load Book has been referred to as the basis on which class caps can be established. Alternatively, one interpretation of the ACE contract is that the establishment of the PGC and use of performance goal plans supersedes what is stated in the WVC Load Book and thus determination of class enrollment caps is the responsibility of Department Chairs (who have the responsibility of meeting the targets outlined in the performance goal plans). There remains confusion as to which is the valid process. The OST recommends that PGC, in consultation with ACE and Administration, clear up this confusion.

2) Student Issues: Under the existing structure, the process through which student complaints about faculty are addressed is clearly outlined: (1) the student must first attempt to resolve the problem/issue with the faculty member involved; (2) if resolution is not achieved to the student’s satisfaction, the next step is for the student to meet with the Department Chair; (3) if needed, the next step is to meet with the Division Chair; and (4) finally, the matter is taken to the VP of Instruction. In this process, neither Department nor Division Chairs have any authority over the faculty in question in trying to resolve the issue. A similar process is followed when faculty need to address student discipline issues.

As a result, the process often leads to the VP of Instruction having to deal with far too many complaints/disciplinary issues. The OST recommends either or all of the following: (1) the Dean of Instruction be identified as an intermediary step between the Division Chair and VP of Instruction, and providing either the Dean and/or Division Chair with more authority in handling such complaints/disciplinary issues and (2) modification of the process to ensure improved coordination with the VP of Student Services.
3) Campus Committees: Currently, Division Chairs can serve on faculty evaluation committees and tenure committees in their roles as faculty. To ensure more oversight over the evaluation and tenure committee process, we recommend that Division Chairs be allowed to serve in such committees in the role of an administration representative, instead of as a faculty representative.
4) 12-Month Coverage: As noted above, currently Division Chairs serve for 11 months. During the month of July, when there is no scheduled Division Chair structure, the VP of Instruction has to deal with many issues that normally a Division Chair would handle. We recommend establishing a Division Chair structure with Division Chairs still serving 11-month terms, but with some flexibility to allow coverage during critical times. For example, terms could be staggered to ensure that there is at least some coverage during every month of the year or rather than serving a full 11th month, identification of key days for which availability of Division Chairs (and perhaps even Department Chairs) could be done to ensure coverage. This may necessitate reworking Senior Office Coordinator schedules to ensure continued support for Division Chairs during that time.
5) Institutional Responsibility: The ACE contract obligates each faculty member to spend 4.9 hours per week on activities outside the classroom that serve the campus community, also known as institutional responsibility. A mechanism or process by which institutional responsibility is tracked for individual faculty is needed to assist Division Chairs in ensuring that faculty members are fulfilling their institutional responsibility. It may be appropriate for the Division Chair Council to work with the Academic Senate to devise such a mechanism and explore ways to encourage equitable institutional service by all faculty members.

  • Strengthening Division and Department Chair Accountability

In addition to the expanded authority, we are recommending expanded accountability of Department and Division Chairs. Division and Department Chair accountability should be measured in terms of clearly identified goals and measurable outcomes. Although the ACE contract does allow for some review of Division Chair authority, we are not aware of any active efforts to review the work of Division and Department Chairs. Therefore, we recommend that the College institute “360 degree” reviews. A Division/Department Chair would be reviewed by administration (probably the VP of Instruction for Division Chairs, the Division Chair for evaluation of Department Chairs), the Division’s/Department’s faculty, and classified staff reporting to the Division/Department Chair.

Under the existing structure, Division Chairs are not evaluated on a regular basis, and review of Department Chairs is done as part of a Department Chair’s normal faculty evaluation process that takes place every three years. We recommend that there be a completely separate evaluation of the Department Chair to evaluate each Chair’s performance independent of what the Chair teaches in the classroom. This evaluation should take place more frequently than every three years, and the Division Chair should have the ability to make recommendations on how to improve a Department Chair’s performance.
It is probably necessary to negotiate this change into the ACE contract. There should also be a plan of action and/or other consequences for those Division and Department Chairs who do not receive adequate reviews.

  • Restructuring Existing Dean Responsibilities

West Valley College already has a hybrid Dean/Division Chair structure. We recommend that the College Administration re-evaluate the responsibilities of the existing Deans with the goal of increasing effectiveness and efficiency.
Our recommendations are in no way a criticism of the hard work and the amount of effort expended by each of the Deans. Rather, the OST wonders whether the talents of the existing Deans could be more strategically utilized to assist instructional administration in both day-to-day operations as well as medium- and long-term strategic planning.
The VP of Instruction has explained at past OST meetings that one problem with the current Division Chair structure is that too many issues come to his attention. Ideally, there would be a Dean who would work with Division Chairs directly, instead of Division Chairs working one-on-one with the VP. Although the current Deans report to the VP of Instruction, their current duties do not involve working directly with Division Chairs on more mundane Division issues and problems. We recommend reformulating at least one of the existing Dean positions to provide support that is more direct to the VP of Instruction. By providing for another layer between the VP of Instruction and the Division Chairs, the VP of Instruction’s attention can focus on more important and pressing matters.

  • ACE Negotiating

The OST recognizes that any reformulation of Department Chair and Division Chair duties will necessitate changes within the ACE contract. Our recommendations are not meant to usurp the role of ACE in negotiating any changes to the Division Chair or Department Chair position. Rather the goal of the OST is to provide suggestions that may help frame future negotiations with ACE.

This final report represents the conclusion of the OST’s work. We recognize that the recommendations made in this report will require further discussion, and suggest that any future discussions be channeled through the Academic Senate and the Division Chair Council. Since the OST is a task force of the Academic Senate, it is appropriate for the Senate to consider these recommendations.
The OST also wishes to emphasize that we do not presume that our recommendations are the only way to improve the College's institutional and instructional effectiveness. However, based on the many hours of discussions held by the OST over the past six months, along with the results of the Flex Day discussion, forum discussion, and survey, we believe that there is a clear faculty consensus in favor of working to improve the existing system.
The OST and most faculty members recognize that we cannot go on operating as we had in the past. Nevertheless, while most members of the campus community recognize the need for change, there are legitimate differences of opinion about what change is needed and the most effective way to do this. We believe that implementing incremental changes to an existing structure will be much easier to implement (and much more cost effective as noted in our progress report).
One proposal suggested at OST meetings was to move toward a wholly-Dean structure using this incremental approach. For example, having one division, namely PE, replacing its Division Chair with a Dean. While there may be some rationale to support PE being the first division in which to conduct this “experiment”, there was also some concern that this would allow the division to have preferential access to decision-making and discussions involving budget and resource allocations over other divisions. OST recognizes this concern and, while it does not support this proposal, recommends that discussion on this and similar ideas continue.
Finally, while the current budget and fiscal situation imposes certain restraints on proposals for reorganization, regular and continued assessment of the existing structure (whatever it may be at that time) is recommended to ensure that the organization continues to make maximum use of its resources to meet student needs. The discussions that have been held in the past six months should be continued and the recommendations made in this report should not be considered as the “final” word on the appropriate structure for instructional administration.

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