By Paul Bradley
The League for Innovation in the Community College is aggressively stepping into the void created by the uncertainty now surrounding the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD).
The League, which since 1968 has promoted institutional change and improvement at community colleges through better use of technology, is expanding its focus to include two NISOD specialties. It will establish annual awards the recognizing community college faculty and staff, and establish an annual award honoring outstanding community college leaders.
League President Gerardo de los Santos said both initiatives will bear the name the John E. Roueche, who founded NISOD as an outreach affiliate of the Community College Leadership program at the University of Texas at Austin.
Roueche, 73, soon will retire as director of the CCLP, a post he has held for more than 40 years. But he is not staying idle. Instead, he’ll undertake an effort to found a similar doctoral program at the for-profit National American University under the mantle of NAU’s new Roueche Graduate Center. Roueche currently serves as chair of NAU’s community college advisory board.
But Roueche’s impending departure from UT — and the decision by university administrators to scrap the CCLP and fold it into a new Higher Education Leadership program — has thrown NISOD into a state of high anxiety and uncertainty. Many of the more than 1,200 people attending the 34th annual NISOD conference in Austin, Texas, earlier this week openly speculated that this NISOD conference could be the last.
NISOD, in fact, has been at the center of an acrimonious dispute between Roueche and his UT boss, School of Education Dean Manuel J. Justiz. Justiz’ move to divert about $2 million in NISOD funds into the school’s coffers led to a prolonged, bitter clash between the two men and ultimately prodded Roueche toward retirement.
NISOD sustains itself through a combination of grant money and member fees. Justiz’ plan does not directly tap that money, which could raise legal questions. Instead, it requires NISOD to pay a 15 percent “tax” on its annual expenditures — salaries, benefits, professional development and the like — in exchange for the right to operate at UT. When the tax plan first was imposed, it was made retroactive for five years, according to knowledgeable sources.
Draining NISOD resources has only exacerbated concern for its future.
The League’s decision to undertake the signature activities that characterized NISOD — the formal recognition of faculty, staff and exemplary college leaders — represents an aggressive challenge to NISOD and UT. It was no small irony that de los Santos made his announcement during the final day of the NISOD conference.
De los Santo said the League’s step is an effort to ensure that the efforts of community college faculty, staff and leaders will continue to be recognized even if NISOD withers.
“No one knows what will happen to NISOD,” he said. “We didn’t want these recognitions to fall by the wayside.”
The League plans to recognize outstanding community college faculty and staff through awards that will be named after Roueche and his wife, Sueanne D. Roueche. The award for outstanding community college leadership will named after John Roueche and Terry O’Banion, the League’s president emeritus.
“Since its founding, the League has offered community college educators and leaders a variety of opportunities for professional growth through conferences, publications, projects and awards,” O’Banion said. “These new offerings from the League are important additions to the community college field’s repertoire.”