Mt. Hood Community College Board Members:
About thirteen years ago I moved to Oregon to take a teaching position at Mt. Hood Community College. At that point I had three years of full-time teaching experience garnered from Northern Arizona University. As a high school drop-out who was able to turn his life around, thanks to a local community college, I couldn’t help but “moonlight” at community colleges in Northern Arizona, even while teaching a full-time load at NAU, consisting of lower- and upper-division courses. I taught at both Yavapai Community College and Coconino Community College.
When I was hired at Mt. Hood Community College, I was utterly thrilled—I had a full time, tenure track position at a community college! The pay was good, but not great low down on the step scale. But my senior colleagues assured me that if I work my way up the scale the pay is good. So I did. And I have worked my tail off for my students and Mt. Hood Community College. I have written packets for my students, saving them hundreds of dollars—during summers without compensation, and provided to my students gratis. I served as chair of social science while also running the philosophy and religion program and being the only full-time faculty member in this program. I have been asked by the past two presidents to move into management: one of the two, Robert Silverman, called me twice, once in my office and once at home, to ask me to move into management. And I said no.
Why did I say no? For a reason I think you, with perhaps one exception, do not grasp. I have taught at other institutions, several community colleges and two universities, and I have never seen a more interesting and engaged mix of students or a more professional and engaged faculty than what I have witnessed at Mt. Hood Community College. This place is special. And I am sorry that you do not see this. I suppose that, from your perspective—of individuals who haven’t spent time in our classrooms, who haven’t gotten to know our students, who think that it is wise to hire a lawyer to make us, from his lens, compensated “at parity” with the other “comparable” community colleges, we may seem average. I suppose…
So, do you think that what is going on in the classroom at Mt. Hood Community College is “at parity” with what occurs in those other community colleges? And how would you know this? You are making an assumption, an assumption which demonstrates, I think, a lack of pride for our college, and a lack of passion to see to it that we continue to be special. Did Mt. Hood Community College hire just another philosophy instructor? I hope not. Are our students “at parity” with other students in the “comparable” community colleges. Not mine. And if you don’t think I mean what I say here, please come spend some time with me—in my office, in my classes.
We are not average. If you think that what we do here at Mt. Hood Community College is average, then you should find another outlet for your “community service.” Because we are here to thrive.