Stephanie Fleming, Dean of Instructional Services, appeared Monday on behalf of Terry Giugni, Assistant Superintendent / Vice President of Instruction, with a partial apology for the exclusion of the Academic Senate (AS) from discussions to extend the pass/no pass (P/NP) grading option to June 28, after final letter grades are posted in specific English and math classes.
Fleming, while serving as dean, also teaches online classes in speech communication. She was formerly on the AS executive committee. Upon quietly entering the Circadian during the AS meeting, Fleming sat against a side wall, and watched the proceedings.
After a lengthy and, at times, tense and divided session, a majority of the AS voted to not seek any change to the administration’s decision of the June 28 P/NP deadline, from which the AS was excluded.
Immediately after the vote, and for the second time during the meeting, Matt Henes, AS secretary and math associate professor, introduced the idea of demanding an apology from the administration.
Fleming stood up at her seat, behind approximately one quarter of the members seated at the room’s conference table. She did not move to the front of the room to address the AS, though she had easy access.
The full text showed Fleming’s statement provided more in the way of careful information rather than specific transgressions.
“Hi,” Fleming began.
“I’m actually here to apologize on behalf of the administration. Dr. Giugni, um, was out sick today. It was his intention to be here for public comment. Um, he was not able to get the message to me to be here on his behalf until after public comment, and I joined in the middle of the discussion.
“Um, and so first, I just need to be clear that we’re not apologizing that this (June 28) decision was made, because I personally stand behind it. I think it’s the best thing for our students. Uh, it was a very difficult decision, and it did have thoughtful discussion.
“With that being said, Dr. Giugni has asked me to acknowledge that it was very unfortunate and that we’re sorry that the Senate was not looped in sooner.
“Um, I think your discussion covered a lot of those extenuating circumstances, but that’s not an excuse. I know what it’s like to be on that side of the room. And I know how frustrating that feels.
“Um, so the apology, um, coming from us is genuine. Um, and it was very frustrating and very unfortunate, and we wish we could’ve gone about it in a different way. Um, and I think that we’ve been trying to forge forward and be able to communicate.
“Um, the day that it became an issue I went and personally apologized to the Executive Committee, um, so that had already happened. Uh, and so we will try in earnest, uh, to make sure that we’re opening chains of command.
“I also want to let you know that we’re not the only college that has done this. We actually got the idea from other colleges. Um, and we had looked at what other colleges were doing in these special circumstances.
“I also want to acknowledge that it’s only for these classes, and that it is this special circumstance because of AB 705 that is allowing us to do this. And I also want to let you know that the Chancellor’s office was contacted and consulted, is well aware of what we’re doing, and they approve of it.
“So, um, I will let Dr. Giugni know of what your request was. But it was my intent today to be here to actually deliver an apology,” Fleming concluded.
The courses affected are ENGL 100, MATH 150, and MATH 131, which may no longer be offered at PCC.
Fleming departed after speaking, leaving behind another divided discussion.
A vote was taken to request a written apology from Giugni and the administration. By a four vote margin, majority of the AS declined to request a written apology. Included in the majority voting no was Henes, who made the two demands for an apology.
Lynora Rogacs, AS President, put this on the agenda late last week after receiving an email.
“The faculty of English brought this to me to ask this body to deal with it,” Rogacs told the AS. “I assure you, there was a whole stream of people on that email.”
The situation facing the AS on its last day was to publicly support the decision they were excluded from, which diminishes their shared governance responsibility and autonomy. Otherwise, they would risk taking the blame for creating potential problems for students’ GPAs and completion plans by removing the June 28 P/NP extension, 11 days beyond the official end of the semester.
According to PCC’s academic calendar, June 17 is the last day of spring exams. June 20 is when final letter grades, including Ds and Fs, are officially due.
Several senators spoke forcefully during the meeting. They emphasized that students were already aware of the extended June 28 deadline. The AS was forced to act.
“One of our senators went to dozens of math classes to let the students know that they have until June 28 to make this decision. Students in English classes were emailed that they have until June 28 to make this decision. There are posters around campus saying they have until June 28 to make this decision,” Henes said. “At this point, if we change that, then we’re not sending a consistent message to students. And that sucks for us as a body, because it didn’t go through us first.”
However, Rogacs did not publicly question why or which of her senators were already informing students before the full AS discussed the situation. Rogacs introduced and thanked Fleming for issuing the apology.
“It’s a pickle. There’s no 100% positive outcome for all of this,” said Bryan Wilbur, geology assistant professor in the natural sciences division. “All things being equal, if they were told by their instructors who they trust, one thing, then we should stick with that one thing regardless of how it might make our stomachs churn.”