Tenure at last

– Thirteen Gavilan College faculty members can finally rest this
week following a four-year evaluation process determining their
employment status. This month, the 13 received tenure at the
Gilroy – Thirteen Gavilan College faculty members can finally rest this week following a four-year evaluation process determining their employment status. This month, the 13 received tenure at the college.

“I’m exhausted,” said Robert Beede, Instructor of Digital Media at Gavilan. “The thing is – (tenure is) hanging over your head all the time. It’s great to get this stress off your shoulders. It’s been a lot of late nights and long summers.”

Beede and company received the good news earlier this month after the board of trustees approved the recommendations for tenure: The holy grail of job security.

Tenure is when a faculty member is guaranteed permanent employment until retirement, unless the individual is dismissed under specific provisions in the employee’s contract.

Beede teaches future Hollywood filmmakers, graphic designers and photographers in his digital media courses. During the course of his 3.5 years at Gavilan, he developed and outlined 15 classes in the program, as well as garnering grant money to build a new computer lab.

“We use the same equipment that Hollywood uses – it’s very advanced. We could edit a Hollywood movie in there,” Beede said.

Despite the program’s expansion, Beede continues to surge forward with his expectations. “Students need to realize we live in a technological society – we got to get going.”

The busy fifty-something co-founded the Digital Media program at Cabrillo College where he taught for more than two decades, and created three state-recognized certificate degrees.

“At my age, I’m a late person for tenure,” he said.

Gavilan College follows California state education guidelines which require a tenure review of its employees after four years of service, President Dr. Steven Kinsella said.

A Tenure Review Committee made up of the employee’s dean, supervising administrator and two faculty members, is formed within the first year of employment. And each year beginning in September, the committee assesses performance based on student and administrative evaluations as well as the employee’s self-evaluations and committee observations.

The process ends in February with the committee either recommending continued employment of the individual to Gavilan’s president, or recommending termination. This occurs every year for four years, until the staff member is either granted tenure, or released if it is denied.

“Every (community college) has their own process,” Kinsella said. “We really are not all that different. In general the time is four years, I don’t know of anyone who does it in under four years.”

The first two years are usually an adjustment period for a new employee, however, by the fourth year “they are at their peak,” Kinsella said. Once tenured, faculty members at Gavilan undergo evaluation at least once every three years, but are almost guaranteed job security.

This year, 14 faculty were up for tenure review, and 13 received it. Gavilan head women’s softball coach Tim Kenworthy was not offered tenure. In a letter written to the Dispatch published March 16, Kenworthy stated it was because he had vocalized disparities in the athletic program. The tenure review process is kept confidential, and reasons for his release remain private. Other than his letter, Kenworthy declined to comment.

Gavilan currently has 69 tenured staff members and almost 270 part-time and non-tenured employees Kinsella estimated.

While Gavilan students are on spring break this week – their teachers are not.

“I still work,” said recently tenured head football coach John Lango. “I have to make phone calls and go visit kids – try and make Gavilan’s football program the best it can be.”

Lango has taught physical education and coached football in Gilroy for almost 20 years, starting at Gilroy High School, and moving on to coach part-time at Gavilan seven years ago.

Many of the coaching positions are part-time in community colleges. Often times, coaches move on before the tenure process even begins Lango said.

“It started with football, but I’ve fallen in love with teaching at this level,” he said. “The clientele is different (than high school). People really want to be here.”

In addition to coaching, Lango teaches in the physical education department. There he is constantly learning from his peers he said.

“Everyone here has been so helpful and supportive, I’m not going anywhere for a long time.”

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