Farewell Trustee Mullins, hello Dr. Hansen


Alyssa Foley

Outgoing District VI Trustee Sandie Mullins makes her farewell remarks at the board meeting Thursday Dec. 17. Right is District IV Trustee Dr. Carolyn Evans-Shabazz.

Alyssa Foley, Editor in Chief

Houston Community College Trustee Sandie Mullins said her farewells at the Board of Trrustees meeting Thursday Dec. 17.

Mullins lost her race for the Houston City Council District G seat in November to Greg Travis. Her Trustee District VI seat will be filled by Dr. John P. Hansen after Dec. 31.

Dr. Hansen and District IV incumbent Carolyn Evans-Shabazz ran unopposed in November. The incumbents of District III Adriana Tamez and District VIII Eva Loredo are both keeping their positions on the board after being re-elected by comfortable margins. Dr. Hansen will be the only new face come January.

Outgoing District VI Trustee Sandie Mullins is honored at the trustee meeting Thursday Dec. 17. Mullins (center) is pictured with Chancellor Cesar Maldonado (right), and Board Chair Zeph Capo (left), surrounded by HCC trustees and others.
HCC-Photos / Flickr
Outgoing District VI Trustee Sandie Mullins is honored at the trustee meeting Thursday Dec. 17. Mullins (center) is pictured with Chancellor Cesar Maldonado (right), and Board Chair Zeph Capo (left), surrounded by HCC trustees and others.

The nine members of the Board of Trustees comprise the official governing body of Houston Community College. Trustees are elected from single-member districts for six-year terms and serve without compensation.

Mullins has served six years on the HCC Board of Trustees after being elected in 2009. Each of her colleagues on the board gave their farewells, calling Mullins “insightful”, “dedicated” and “a cheerleader”.

District I Trustee and Board Chair Zeph Capo said, “What I admire you most is your tenacious advocacy for your district. You don’t speak for Sandie Mullins, you speak for district six.”

Mullins reflected that their only goal as HCC trustees “is for students to go in and go out within a reasonable budget. To take care of the students and the taxpayers all at the same time.”

At the reception following her farewell, Mullins said that she plans to continue being involved in the community.

HCC District VI Trustee-elect Dr. John P. Hansen
Image: JohnHansenCampaign.com
HCC District VI Trustee-elect Dr. John P. Hansen

Hansen has a Ph.D in economics from Rice University and twenty-two years of experience on the Alief ISD school board, which is also an uncompensated public service position. Dr. Hansen said he doesn’t see his new role at HCC as fundamentally different from his position at Alief ISD.

Since he will be the newcomer to the table, Dr. Hansen said he has been spending time meeting with people so he can obtain a clear picture of the current status of the college and determine for himself what plans are actually in place and “how many of them are just on a sheet of paper somewhere?”

“I will probably be a little careful for a while, because as the new person on the board, you don’t want to be in the position of assuming you know what everybody else knows,” he added that, “I don’t plan on being in that mode for a long time.” Dr. Hansen said once he believes he’s up to speed, he plans on being a little more aggressive.

He doesn’t think HCC is doing a bad job, but that there are things HCC could do better. One thing in particular he plans on focusing on is workforce development.

Hansen said that as a trustee “…our primary job is to create an environment in which the staff can be professionally successful. Because if they succeed – by definition – they will be getting the students to accomplish what, hopefully, they’re capable of,” adding that, “You can’t force your staff to be successful, but you can create an environment in which they can be.”

Creating a supportive environment for faculty may be particularly crucial in light of the hiring priorities and practices report put together by the faculty senate. Faculty Senate President David White explained in his meeting report that HCC’s common practice of hiring a lot of part-time instructors hurts the college in numerous ways.

White discussed how other local colleges are hiring more full-time faculty, which means “every time that happens, we lose some of our best and brightest part-time faculty because they literally cannot afford to wait for us to hire them full-time.”

“They cannot afford to wait to do the jobs they love here,” added White. He claimed that HCC is also losing faculty to local school districts and jobs outside of academia.

Such practices negatively affect the college’s accreditation metrics and community image. “It suggests that we care more about doing it on the cheap, than doing it right,” claimed White.

The worst-case scenario is that with the Affordable Care Act, Houston Community College could be liable to pay up to a $300 thousand a month fine to the Federal Government because of the college’s part-time hiring practices. “I hope that you’re as scared about that as I am,” said White to the trustees.

The full Faculty Senate Hiring practices report will be given to the trustees before it will be shared with The Egalitarian.