(Marie Boyd served as curriculum chair at Chaffey College for many years and has actively participated in the California Community Colleges Curriculum Committee and various ASCCC committees. She retired at the end of the spring semester after twenty years as a reference librarian at Chaffey and having served the college in various leadership roles. The following article offers Marie’s thoughts and wisdom for all local academic senates and curriculum committees as she moves forward into retirement and new adventures.)
I had a thought that I would offer to write one last Rostrum article in order to thank the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges for my Senator Emeritus resolution at the Spring 2019 Plenary. With a tiny bit of encouragement, I began this task. I had some thoughts on what to write about and overheard a few intriguing snippets of conversation with ASCCC colleagues about topics that might work into something that, you, “the body,” might care to read about.
“A legacy of honesty and integrity” won out among my choices. Why? Because, as the originator stated, there are very few things we have control over these days. Visions for success, funding formulas, legislative mandates that trample faculty purview over curriculum—so many things are beyond our control. However, our legacy—what we leave behind for others—is one thing we can control.
And how fitting, as I prepare to retire from Chaffey College as curriculum chair for eleven years, to share a few thoughts about one’s legacy. Honesty and integrity are indeed the two components I would like to leave behind as my legacy. Who wouldn’t?
But just what does honesty mean? Would my definition of honesty be consistent with your definition of honesty? How do we define integrity? Is your sense of integrity the same as my sense of integrity?
I would not even attempt to create definitions of either of these qualities. I certainly would not want to quote from an Amazon bestseller or a trendy blog. You can find that information on your own. Instead, I humbly offer to you a few observations I have gleaned during my time as a curriculum chair in analyzing honesty and integrity within the weird and wonderful world of California Community College curriculum.
My own tenets of personal honesty have been as follows:
- That I would provide an honest interpretation of Title 5, division 6. California Community Colleges. Chapter 6. Curriculum and Instruction—every single citation in that chapter dealing with curriculum and instruction—for my faculty colleagues. Yes, there are other divisions and chapters of Title 5 we should know about; however, as a Curriculum Chair, I took seriously my obligation to have a rudimentary understanding of Chapter 6. Who else reads this stuff on your campus?
- That I would never rely on the phrase “it’s in Title 5” to settle a disagreement or win an argument.
- That I took seriously a responsibility to not promote curriculum which would result in the eventual return of apportionment due to poor or illegal curriculum design.
- That I would provide an honest and accurate recounting of information learned from plenary sessions and ASCCC institutes, but most especially from the Curriculum Institute.
As to integrity, I have attempted to adhere to the following principles:
- That I would take pride in doing my job to the best of my ability—even when (you can fill in this blank on your own).
- That I would take every opportunity to make the individual members of my Curriculum Committee shine and encourage them to do a good job for their departments and their programs of study.
- That I would not shirk my responsibilities to deal with discipline placement issues. Discipline placement issues are never fun. Never.
- That I would not facilitate the solving of personnel issues through curriculum design.
- That I would not facilitate the resolution of faculty load issues with curriculum design.
- That I would represent the “faculty voice” when it emanated from a place of compliance and courage.
- That all of our efforts, collaboratively, should promote student success.
I stumbled upon a marvelous poem about our collective sense of honesty and integrity by writer and activist Asali DeVan Ecclesiastes. I share it with you by way of closing a terrific career and saying “thank you” to so many of you from throughout this state.
There are some chasms so deep and so wide
We find it hard to imagine how we’ll ever make it to the other side
That space between who we are and who we want to be,
the gaps between our high ideals and our base realities.
The distance between what we say and what we really mean.
The raging river that flows between what actually happened and our convenient memories.
The lies we tell ourselves are lakes, overflowing their banks,
flooding our speech with waters, caustic and rank.
The only bridge is the truth, passing through me and you, as we look one another eye to eye.
But so often, that look is filled with our hesitations,
and we can’t help but glance to the side.
See, we’ve long ago let go of the language with which we describe our softer parts.
We learn early that those with softer hearts suffer.
So we allow lean emotion to reign, never noticing that only strain has been the fruit of our restraints.
We haven’t escaped pain.
And our battle scars are far from faint.
Yet and still, despite our desire and willingness to heal,
we often find ourselves fighting hard in the paint,
holding onto false images of everything we ain’t.
So while our dream coincide, our fears collide.
And we want to know one another, but think we can’t.
The gulf between empathy and equity
is as unfathomable as the fissures that line our collective integrity.
And we spend eternal eternities trying to translate that into virtue.
Perhaps you have met one or two of the virtuous on your path.
They are only very few, and I know that I have, from time to time,
Mistaken pretenders for real,
yet still make room for the possibility that it’s I who’s been pretending.
Please, bear with me, I’m still mending,
but I’m no longer bending to the will of my injuries, nor my injurers.
I much prefer to stretch my arms like Nüt until I become the sky.
I’d rather stretch my tongue with truth,
our bridge to cross when we look one another in the eye.
But the tongue, like the heart, gets tired.
The weak make it hard for the strong to stay inspired,
like the lost prevent the found from escaping the mire,
and the degraded stop the enlightened from taking us higher.
But no matter what you hear from the mouths of these liars,
We are one people
with one destiny and the common enemy,
that’s why it really stresses me to see our hearts so tattered,
our minds so scattered
our egos so easily flattered.
We’re enslaved, yet think of our shackles as gifts.
Rather than resist our masters, we let them widen our rifts,
like mindless, material junkies,
we seek that which lowers, not lifts.
But somewhere in our midst,
there’s been a paradigm shift.
Justice is getting restless in its chains.
Our youth find it useless to separate their souls from their brains,
their truth is ingrained, their integrity insustained.
Let me call your attention to those who serve as examples.
Those who daily give their all, but their reserves are still ample.
Those who battle friend and foe, yet their hope is never trampled,
they make music, never sample, and the world’s ugly could never cancel
the fullness and the sweetness of their composition.
Nor the unadulterated truth of their mission.
It’s time we shut our mouths and listen.
Close our eyes and pray
for the humility and the guidance
to follow them to the way.