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NEVADA FACULTY ALLIANCE


ESTABLISHED 1983


Double standards and evaluations

14 Feb 2024 10:33 AM | Jim New (Administrator)

TMCC President Karin Hilgersom

UPDATE 2/14/2024: The TMCC Vice President of Student Services and Diversity provided a clarification: "[N]one of my Direct Reports received a 360 [evaluation]. The individuals that received a 360 report directly to [the Executive Director of Admissions and Records]." She added that the admissions and records evaluations do not include a campus-wide survey and utilize a form maintained by the Human Resources office.

ORIGINAL POST: During the last two weeks of January, TMCC-NFA officers began to hear rumors that the TMCC administration was in the process of conducting 360° evaluations of the Leadership Team, presumably all executives who report directly to President Karin Hilgersom. Soon afterward, multiple administrative faculty members who belong to the TMCC-NFA bargaining unit reached out with concerns that 360° evaluations were also occurring for administrative faculty, mostly in a single administrative unit, Student Services. It is unclear if the subjects of these evaluations were informed well in advance that the evaluations would occur or provided the criteria upon which they are being evaluated.

In a 360° performance review, a supervisor gathers feedback about an employee from other employees, like co-workers, peers, subordinates, and people that share the same work environment. TMCC policies and the NSHE Code governing administrative faculty evaluations provide for "consultation with the professional and classified staff of the administrative unit." The evaluation process for non-supervisory administrative faculty (members of the TMCC-NFA bargaining unit) is defined in Article 12, Section 12.2 of the TMCC-NFA contract. The contract is a legally binding agreement between TMCC-NFA, the college, and NSHE. It supersedes other policies and does not give the administration authority to conduct capricious evaluations outside of the defined process for non-supervisory administrative faculty. So far, we have not learned of any individual covered by the contract being subjected to one of these evaluations. Nonetheless, it is our contention that any 360° evaluation that requests input from individuals outside the subject's administrative unit is a violation of these TMCC and NSHE policies, and it appears that is happening.

As we asked more questions, additional disturbing details came to light. We learned that the administration is not following the college's own Policy 4700, which designates the Institutional Research Office as the survey administration unit, nor are they deploying evaluation surveys through Web Services, a long-standardized practice. Several years ago, this same administration strenuously objected to TMCC-NFA using our copy of Survey Monkey to conduct faculty surveys, and we acceded to their demands only after we had reasonable assurances that the IR office and Web Services had established procedures for a fully confidential system to protect the identities of respondents. TMCC-NFA has been required to use this system for confidential surveys, such as the annual department chair evaluations, and we are not the only campus organization to receive this mandate, such as the Faculty Senate.

For some reason, the President's Office has purchased its own copy of Survey Monkey to administer the evaluation surveys currently occurring. Since a member of the president's staff is the license holder, they likely have advanced controls, including the ability to see names with responses. We find it alarming that the administration is now bypassing Web Services to conduct their own evaluations. This unilateral departure from established standards undermines the integrity of the process and erodes trust. It is an arbitrary disregard for shared governance.

Subsequently, we heard that supervisory administrative faculty who report to the Vice President of Student Services and Diversity are also being subjected to 360° evaluations at this time. Apparently, for some individuals, the surveys were originally sent out as unsecured PDF documents via email. Others reported receiving Survey Monkey forms. We do not know if the VPSSD's office has purchased yet another copy of the Survey Monkey software or if they are utilizing the President's office copy. We do know they are not using the campus-approved system in Web Services.

To the best of our knowledge, no one who is covered by the TMCC-NFA collective bargaining agreement is being evaluated in this way, so some administrators have questioned why TMCC-NFA officers would even care. Members of our bargaining unit, however, are being asked to provide feedback through these surveys, and they have concerns. Whoever holds the license for Survey Monkey automatically has full administrative control over the application, meaning that the license holder can see all details of a submission, including each respondent's identifying characteristics, such as their name or an email address. Even if the names or email addresses are masked by an auto-generated identification number, the license holder is still able to identify the individual tied to the number. The administration will assure everyone that they are conducting an anonymous survey, but there are no guarantees that it is confidential, let alone anonymous. The success of a 360° evaluation is wholly dependent on the ability of the respondents to provide candid feedback. When respondents are not confident their identities will be protected, their responses will not be truthful, and the evaluation is invalid. Worse than that, respondents fear that the source of truthful comments will be revealed to an supervisor and could lead to retaliation.

We also must wonder why the administration would opt out of using the campus-approved system. Is it because they are not confident in the ability of Web Services and IR to deliver on their promise of confidentiality? If that's the case, why do they demand that we use this system for our confidential surveys? If that's not the case, the only other reason we can think of is because they want greater control over the process. And whoever controls the process has influence over the outcome.

With that in mind, consider the situation in Student Services. While being the subject of a 360° evaluation, the VPSSD is simultaneously conducting 360° evaluations of her direct reports, the same people who are being asked by the President to provide feedback for the VPSSD's evaluation. Without ironclad assurances of confidentiality, it is likely that those subordinates are reticent to give honest constructive criticism out of fear of retaliation, leading to an evaluation that falsely skews to the positive. Is that the intent here?

The final irony is that President Hilgersom voiced strenuous complaints about the periodic evaluation process for NSHE presidents at the November 30, 2022, Board of Regents meeting. No other NSHE president spoke up when given the opportunity by the Regents. Hilgersom's stated concerns with the evaluation stemmed from what she called "inconsistency" in the process, which she characterized as "potentially damaging to the future of one's career." If the process for her evaluation is inconsistent and damaging, then why inject inconsistency into TMCC's evaluation process? Why spread the fear for one's career to other employees?

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