Spreading the Word: Prof. Chad Thompson

Chad Thompson started at Westchester Community College in 2003. Prior to teaching at WCC, he was a high school teacher for two years in New York City public schools. Chad has held many roles at WCC starting with curriculum chair, also he’s a professor of biology, a course coordinator for a number of courses in his department, he’s served as a committee chair on a variety of college committees, he served as a secretary for eight years in the faculty senate, four years as presiding officer of the senate, he’s served as a chair for the faculty working group for middle states review in 2015, he chaired the progress report for middle states in 2018, he’s currently the chair of the self-study for 2024, and he’s just recently started being secretary of the union.

In academic institutions, one existing idea is that the people making a lot of the decisions about the institutions should be the faculty themselves. This idea is shared governance. Shared governance is dissimilar to public schools such as K-12 education which typically have state-mandated curriculums. In colleges, there is more autonomy over what’s being taught and the time frame in which it is taught because those doing the teaching are specialists in their field. Many institutions have a faculty senate which is like a parliamentary type of body with representation from different departments. Committees and policy proposals are generated and debated civilly. Votes are taken using parliamentary procedures and these go up to the administration who gets to decide what will actually come to fruition. At WCC teacher input is taken very seriously. WCC respects shared governance.

Question for the newsletter:

Throughout your career at WCC you have actively taken on leadership roles, what is it about leadership roles that interest you?

Professor Thompson believes it’s a responsibility for people to step up in these leadership roles when they can do so. He very passionately expresses that he isn’t looking to gain some higher role from this experience, rather he is doing what he wants to be doing currently and that is teaching students. Unlike others who may take these roles to gather experience for future career prospects, he has done this to serve the faculty.

What do you think the responsibility of the faculty is at a community college?

He believes the responsibility of the faculty at a community college is three-fold. First, there is a responsibility to the students and engage students in some sort of educational program. There are many responsibilities within this as well, to be fair, competent. The second is that professors have a responsibility to their discipline. As a teacher, there is a responsibility to make sure that students meet certain standards, and set goals for them to meet. The third responsibility is the responsibility to a teacher’s institution. The faculty has to act in the best interest of the institution. Sometimes, that’s not necessarily in the interest of the individual professor. These have driven Professor Thompson’s willingness to step up when asked for the many leadership roles in which he has excelled.

The union recently changed its constitution and now all union officers are part of the negotiating team did that change make you more or less interested in this position?

For Professor Thompson it was neutral. He likes having the opportunity though.

Improving work conditions is a primary focus of the union. Are there any areas of work condition improvement that you would like to explore in your new role?

Personally, Professor Thompson is happy with his working conditions. He feels though that some conditions for adjunct professors could be improved, for example, more office space.

Did you have any positive takeaways from teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Professor Thompson is now more comfortable with learning management systems as he had to use them for everything during the pandemic. So, now after the pandemic, everything remains to be online for not only himself but also the students who now have much more access to all their class information. Professor Thompson views the additional technology as a great supplemental tool for his current teaching style. He is now comfortable with recording mini-lessons from his home which can be used as an additional resource for his current classes. As a biology teacher, he retained virtual labs as an additional resource for his students.