Maricopa Community Colleges Board votes to end 'Meet and Confer'

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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

The governing board of Maricopa Community Colleges voted Tuesday at a special board meeting to end a process called 'Meet and Confer'.

The board's resolution states that as of Feb. 27, 2018, the process of 'Meet and Confer' is terminated. The chancellor will now create a new process of faculty policy development. 

The agenda states:

Creation of a process of faculty policy development that recognizes the Governing Board as the final approval authority for all policy matters and that also recognizes the valuable contribution that faculty can provide in the development of policies that pertain to the residential faculty’s essential mission of teaching and learning, not including aspects related to compensation, benefits, accountability and organizational operations, such process to become effective no later than July 1, 2018.

'Meet and Confer' is a process which had been in place for decades that allowed for faculty members to collaborate with the Chancellor on decisions regarding responsibilities, wages, benefits and other terms of employment.

[READ MORE: Faculty at Maricopa County Colleges 'shocked' by proposed policy changes]

The 'Meet and Confer' team consists of an equal number of faculty and administration members and is co-chaired by a member of each.

[READ IN FULL: "Meet and Confer" outlined in the Residential Faculty Policies]

The board says its reasoning for ending this process is to streamline decision-making while still having faculty input.

The proposal stated that the elimination of 'Meet and Confer' would allow changes to be accomplished more quickly and reduce the amount of valuable resources devoted to policy development.

[READ IN FULL: Justification for eliminating "Meet and Confer" process from faculty contract]

This decision comes as a shock to the faculty.

"We are shocked. This governing board action comes to us quite out of the blue," Mike Mitchell, the president of the Maricopa Community Colleges Faculty Association, told Arizona’s Family in a phone interview late Tuesday morning. "There’s been no indication that the…process that we’re working with has been a problem."

The resolution also called for Chancellor Maria Harper-Marinick to develop a new process of policy development, including a new process for faculty input. The resolution also states that 'Meet and Confer' may not be included in the new Residential Faculty Policy manual.  

"The administration is committed to ensuring a participatory process for the development of residential faculty policies," Harper-Marinick said in a statement emailed to Arizona's Family. "Our goals are to ensure students receive the best educational experiences and services possible and to continue our long tradition of collaboration with faculty and other employees. That is what is in the best interest of Maricopa. We will work to preserve our long-standing support for faculty involvement in important policy development and other decisions within a revised policy development framework as may be directed by our Governing Board."

Mitchell said things will now be relatively uncertain for Maricopa County Community Colleges faculty, particularly with respect to their working relationship with the administration.

"We don’t know what our policies are going to be going forward," Mitchell said. "We don’t have an idea of what plan will exist for meeting with our administrative partners…There’s the promise that a new relationship will be established, but what that relationship will be like – all of that is in the air."

Maricopa Community Colleges is comprised of 10 accredited colleges that serve more than 200,000 students.

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