Published: Feb 6 2017 12:00AM
<i>Rick Penn has been a professor of mathematics at Montgomery College for 21 years, his first semester as a part-time instructor and full-time ever since. This is his second year as a member of the Faculty Council and also his second term as co-chair.</i>
<b>MC Governance (MC): What motivated you to serve in governance?</b>
Rick Penn (RP): I had served in many different campus and collegewide leadership roles but had never been involved in governance. I honestly had not planned on serving now either, but when I saw that I was nominated for this position, I accepted and thought that it would be a good way both to learn more about the day-to-day operations of governance and to help represent my colleagues in the decision-making processes at the College.
<b>MC: What is it like to be a council member? What do you actually do?</b>
RP: Most of the work of the council takes place at our meetings, where twice each month council members have the opportunity to update each other on the issues and concerns that are affecting their constituencies and to be updated on programs and changes going on at the College that affect all of us. Between meetings we need to make sure that we are familiar with the issues our colleagues are concerned about, and follow up on the discussions and decisions made at the meetings.
<b>MC: What would you consider a few of the most important accomplishments of governance?</b>
RP: Both last year and this year issues arose related to safety on the campuses, and both times the issues were resolved quickly and effectively. Additionally, the Faculty Council has addressed numerous issues that have the potential to impact student success and has partnered with several other groups to help minimize obstacles that our students have to overcome.
<b>MC: What are some ways that the Faculty Council can have an impact on student success?</b>
RP: The faculty work with students every day, in and out of the classroom, and so we are in a great position to see what is working well for our students and where we may be able to help eliminate unnecessary obstacles. The Faculty Council's strength is both in its ability to share these observations and to serve as a point of contact so others around the College can keep us updated on changes being considered. So far this year we have been updated on changes and shared our thoughts on the bookstores, the assessment centers, the plans for scheduling and when necessary cancelling classes, advising students so that they remain in compliance for financial aid, and numerous other topics that all impact our students' ability to succeed in the classroom.
<b>MC: Do you think governance makes an impact on the College? If so, how?</b>
RP: Communication has long been a problem at Montgomery College, and governance gives a clear channel. Do you want to know more about something that affects you as a faculty member? Do you have a thought about an issue that is affecting your campus? In each case, there is a specific governance council that can help. It also has an impact merely by bringing students, staff, faculty, and administrators together to jointly address and work on solving common problems.
<b>MC: What advice would you give to someone considering whether to serve?</b>
RP: Being part of governance is a good way to learn more about what is going on around the College. Just be willing to do your part to help inform others.
<b>MC: Are there ways for people who aren't formally on a council to participate?</b>
RP: Each meeting has an opportunity for constituents to present concerns at the beginning. Come - let us know what is on your mind! Beyond that, council meetings are always open, so come sit in on some meetings, listen to the issues presented, and bring your own concerns.
<i>This article is one in a continuing series. To read about the experiences of other governance members, please visit the governance website:</i> http://cms.montgomerycollege.edu/mcgovernance