May remains following vote of no confidence

Chancellor Joe May will retire in August 2022 as planned. Photo by Baylie Tucker/The Et Cetera

Chancellor Joe May will retire in August 2022 as planned. Photo by Baylie Tucker/The Et Cetera

HARRIET RAMOS, Editor in Chief

Joe May will serve out his term as chancellor and retire as chancellor emeritus of Dallas College despite a vote of no confidence by some faculty members Oct. 1.

Out of 849 full-time faculty who received the poll, 190 voted in favor of the resolution of no confidence, 76 against it and 583 did not vote.

According to Matt Hinckley, president of Eastfield’s Faculty Association, the vote was orchestrated by a small group of faculty who were preying upon the concerns some faculty members have over aspects of the consolidation of the former Dallas County Community College District into one college. One of the concerns is the dismissal of employees on all seven campuses to consolidate their positions.

“The orchestrators didn’t work through the faculty associations,” Hinckley said, “At the Dallas College level or, to my knowledge, at any of the campuses.”

Richard Menchaca, a developmental integrated reading and writing faculty member who has been employed at El Centro for 55 years, emailed a poll to full-time faculty members. In the email he encouraged them to cast a vote of no confidence against May.

“A vote of no confidence by the full faculty of Dallas College will provide the Dallas College Board of Trustees and the community of students and taxpayers we serve the data they need for swift action to remove [May] from his current position as chancellor and to ensure he never returns as chancellor emeritus or in any other capacity,” Menchaca said in the email.

Monica Lira Bravo, chair of the Dallas College Board of Trustees, said in an Oct. 6 email to employees that the board is in full support of May’s leadership and he will serve as chancellor emeritus when he retires in August 2022.

“Serving in this honorific role is a common practice that previous Dallas College chancellors have enjoyed in the past,” Lira Bravo said. “What is a little different in the case of Chancellor May is that he has chosen to do so while only accepting an annual salary of $1, whereas previous chancellors accepted a full or partial salary.”

[READ MORE: Dallas College chancellor set to retire, successor named]

In an Oct. 5 board meeting, two faculty members spoke publicly in support of May.

Carlos Ojeda, the faculty representative from the School of Manufacturing and Industrial Technology and an auto body faculty member at Eastfield, said change can be hard, but he has seen positive results from the reorganization both in the community and at Eastfield.

“I’m here to convey my support for the trustees’ vision and Dr. May’s implementation of the reorganization in Dallas College,” Ojeda said at the meeting. “As we look forward to the future, we see nothing but positive things.”

Scott Sires, a geographic information systems faculty member at Brookhaven, said it would have been impossible to carry out a transition plan perfectly, and ongoing corrections are needed.

“I acknowledge the sense of loss in our transformation,” Sires said at the meeting. “It has been tough. … All of us have experienced something that is different than we thought, but if we keep our eye on the bigger picture, that’s the value, that’s what we’re needing to do, and that’s why I’m here. I want to make sure that we maintain what I have said and believe is the finest institution of its kind in the nation.”

May himself did not comment on the vote at the meeting.

Menchaca said in his email to faculty that May’s motive behind the consolidation was to cement his own legacy with Dallas College and personal financial gain. He cited May’s $424,360 salary for fiscal year 2020, an increase of nearly $100,000 since 2016, as proof of his allegations.

Menchaca also accused May of enabling a culture of intimidation against faculty and using students as pawns while lowering their quality of education.

In a written statement to The Et Cetera, May did not address the allegations, but said he is grateful for the support he has received from employees and the board.

“Anything other than a relentless focus on our students is a distraction,” May said. “In my time remaining as chancellor, we will stay the course as charted by our Board of Trustees, who, in their ultimate wisdom, believed and continue to believe in everything Dallas College has to offer the students of today and tomorrow.”

[READ MORE: District trustees onboard with single accreditation]

Trustee Diana Flores, who also spoke in support of May at the board meeting, said it was the board’s decision to consolidate to one college.

“We’re in the community,” Flores said at the meeting. “We hear the good, the bad, the ugly from our constituents, and it was time for change. No organization can stay the same for over 55 years and expect to give the same outcome to today’s students.”

Hinckley said pushing for a vote of no confidence was “a strategically and tactically foolish move.”

“I understand that many well-meaning people with legitimate concerns voted for the vote of no confidence,” Hinckley said. “And I understand that they voted for the vote of no confidence because they’re angry and upset and frustrated for variety of legitimate reasons. However, I think a vote of no confidence was not the best way to express those concerns, much less try to solve them.”

Hinckley said the distance between faculty and administrators has been exacerbated by the pandemic, but it is not new. Often the top college officials don’t understand what’s going on at the campus level, and faculty don’t have any idea what’s going on at the administrative level.

He said the change to Dallas College has revealed problems and disconnects that already existed, and direct engagement is the best way to handle those concerns. As an example, Hinckley cited the Oct. 4 meeting between Eastfield faculty, Chancellor-elect Justin Lonon and Provost Shawnda Floyd.

Hinckley said faculty gave him positive feedback about the meeting and the opportunity they’d had to express their concerns to the administration. Hinckley reached out to the other campus faculty associations and encouraged them to schedule meetings with Lonon and Floyd.

“If we just sit down and talk with one another and listen to one another and assume the best of each other and proceed from the starting point that we are all here for the students and for their success, then solving problems isn’t difficult.” Hinckley said.

The Et Cetera reached out to faculty members in 19 different disciplines for their reaction to the vote. Two declined to comment and the others did not respond.

Justin Lonon plans to use experience, connections as college’s chancellor