I want to start my term by saying that I'm super proud to work with so many people who are so entirely devoted to student learning and success--and so committed to supporting each other. I also want to thank the volunteers, members, community support and WEA staff who joined forces last year to send a clear message that faculty salary increases are long overdue.
The truth is that last year was one of Clark's most challenging in recent history. By far the most tragic event was the death of one of our beloved, ECE Professor Lora Whitfield. Lora passed away unexpectedly on July 9th. (See story below.)
We also suffered our second reduction in force in five years which resulted in several people losing their jobs. In addition, it became clear that the College had little interest in rectifying our salaries which are about 20 percent less than our K-12 colleagues with comparable education and experience.
Despite challenges that all too often create divisions between colleagues, we continued to have each other's backs. Moreover, hundreds of us came out numerous times to demonstrate our collective belief that students deserve teachers who are paid fair and professional wages. Our community, the Board of Trustees, and the College now know we will stand together and fight for what's right.
It's for these reasons that I'm both proud and excited to serve as CCAHE president. I've served as a Senator since I earned my tenure in 2014, but my faith in collective bargaining spans decades. My dad was a member of the the United Steelworkers Union (USW) and the the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), and my mom was a proud member of the BCTGM Union for 37 years.
Looking forward, I'm confident that we will continue to stand united for a healthy Clark College and a fair contract for both part-time and full-time faculty.
I also look forward to gaining a deeper understanding of what's important to each of you as well as representing CCAHE throughout the state. Most of all, I'm eager to roll up my sleeves and get to work helping to increase our salaries, improve our working conditions and protect our academic freedom.
Thank you for your support!
~Suzanne Southerland, CCAHE President