Columbia College of Chicago PTers’ Union Disaffiliates from NEA & Battles College

by Deanna Isaacs

In 2013, things were looking up at Columbia College. After several years of dicey relations between the administration and P-fac—the part-time faculty union that represents the majority of Columbia’s teachers—a new college president, Kwang-Wu Kim, was in place. It seemed to P-fac’s president, Diana Vallera, like the beginning of a new, much more congenial era.

But it was only a honeymoon.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Vallera says now. “The president said and did all the right things for about a year, then brought in a new labor attorney and a new provost, and packed his administration with new VPs. And everything changed.”


P-fac broke with its parent unions under the leadership of president Diana Vallera. PHOTO: COURTESY DIANA VALLERA

She ticks through what she sees as the biggest changes: “Columbia has always been about open enrollment, small classes, individual attention, and part-time faculty who are working professionals. Now what they’re doing is making larger classes, fewer course offerings, getting rid of senior faculty, gearing toward putting everything online. It’s becoming a completely different institution.”

The college included faculty, staff, and students in the development of a strategic plan last year, and is changing “because the world of

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