After a campaign that included mailing newsletters, use of videos and social media platforms like Facebook and a website with her platform and experience, the faculty at EPCC elected Speech Instructor Rebekah Bell as their president.
Rebekah Bell, new President of the Senate at EPCC.
Bell said she is ready to begin, on what she admitted will be a lot of work.
“It's really exciting and it's totally humbling to realize that people have that kind of trust in you,” said Bell.
“The opportunity is something that I'm very excited to be able to pursue.”
Bell’s background includes time spent on the Faculty Senate’s Committee Investigating Bullying, Transmountain Master Planning Campus Advisory Committee and Campus Concealed Carry Taskforce.
Her work also includes time spent on many Diversity Programs Committees, including but not limited to the Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month and Women’s History Month committees.
“The leadership academy here at EPCC really trained me well in being able to understand EPCC as a whole, both the instructional teaching aspect but also the other departments that work with us, whether it's financial aid or over in the budget office or over in IT,” said Bell.
With a litany of issues waiting for Bell to begin to address, such as campus safety, retirement for faculty and even funding in general, she intends to use her background in organizational communication to help organize the senate’s workload and effectively achieve resolution.
Bell went on to explain an instance in which members from the Psychology Department delivered a presentation regarding having access to triple overloads.
An overload, is an assignment, that can be an extra class that an instructor takes on, or an additional task that their discipline or the college requires of them.
Having an overload can mean more work for the instructor.
After presenting clearly organized ideas with a proposed resolution, the senate reached a conclusion to the issue within a year.
Bell said that the factor that led to the expedited resolution was the department’s organization and ability to put forth what they desired from the senate.
“I consider myself a task kind of person and I don't mean that in any way to say that other people are not focused on getting things done but I think that stuff needs to happen in an orderly fashion,” said Bell.
On a webpage designed with the help of Bell’s colleagues, she talked about seeing “storms” on the horizon for higher education, including increases in mandated assessments, changes in funding and the potential for the new 60x30 proposal in the Texas legislature to challenge disciplines and programs to justify their existence.
“There's changes in retirement programs for state employees which would affect employees throughout our district,” said Bell, adding other issues she sees as potentially coming up in her tenure.
“It's not so much people here, it's a lot of changes happening on the state level that would affect us in terms of the ‘storm’.”
In discussing what challenges the senate has faced in the past, Bell mentioned a failure to achieve resolution between the Faculty Senate and Student Government Association.
“If there's one aspect that I've seen recently that kind of underscored how I would see the need for reform, I think it would be the smoking policy,” said Bell.
“The SGA worked very, very hard on reforming the existing policy and proposed making all of EPCC tobacco-free. There was a breakdown in communication with the Faculty Senate and SGA that resulted in a slowdown of policy adoption with a policy that, I don't think would work moving forward.”
Highlighting how to avoid any such red tape in the future, Bell mentioned each organization making themselves more easily available and suggested meeting in informal manners such as spending lunch together.
“I think it's about building bridges of communication. A lot of what's happened in the past, as far as I can tell, everybody has their own meetings, they communicate individually upward but we don't communicate to each other,” said Bell.
“Well, if we were more intentional about saying ‘hey, next semester let's all sit down and have sandwiches together’, whether it's the Professional Staff Association, the SGA, I think those kinds of gatherings can help us at least say ‘hey this is what's on our agenda, how is that going to affect you? Do you want to be a part of the conversation while we push this thing forward?’”
While Bell took pride in her aggressive campaign, she was quick to acknowledge the help she received along the way.
“I had an incredible team that helped me run and I know that I owe them absolutely everything from Fan Chen out of math (department) who put up the website to students who helped me with cool ideas in terms of using social media and videos.”
“I truly owe my presidency to the team that empowered me and I'd like to say thanks to the people who voted and the team that made this happen.”