2007 Fall Plenary Session

Welcome

Welcome to the Academic Senate's 2007 Fall Plenary Session. As we meet together to learn, discuss, and make decisions, we are faced with a year of incredible change. Many of the changes are on our local campuses. Many of you are new local senate presidents. So far this year, there has been a turnover of over 1/3 of the CEOs at our colleges and districts. And almost every college I have visited this year is in the middle of a major construction project. On a statewide level, we have a new chancellor and a changing membership on our Board of Governors. Colleges are considering fundamental and widespread changes in how they address issues of student preparation through their involvement in the Basic Skills Initiative. And the Governor has declared 2008 the “Year of Education Reform,”which promises changes yet to come. Finally, on a nationwide level, we are poised to embark on the process of electing a new president and all the change that will come with new leadership.

Change can be for good or for ill, and as one embarks on a process of change, it is rarely clear what the result will be. As our theme "Change by Design: Opportunities for Transformation" attests, the Academic Senate hopes to harness the inevitability and power of change for positive benefit to our students and institutions.

The program for our Fall Plenary Session reflects this concept of change in several ways. Many of our breakouts focus on issues of change that are before us, from the recently approved curriculum regulation changes to a proposal to change our conception of the disciplines list.

We carry this idea into our general sessions as well. The Community College Governance Funding Stabilization, and Student Fee Reduction Act (aka the Community College Initiative) comes before the voters in February, and its passage has the potential to radically change the funding and operations of the California Community College System. A panel joins us to answer your questions about the initiative and to tell you how you can participate in efforts to support its passage.

Nancy Shulock, somewhat infamously known for her policy report on our system Rules of the Game, joins us to challenge us with her research and ideas for change in our system; and Chancellor Diane Woodruff will be on hand to introduce herself and answer some of your questions. Vice-Chancellor Patrick Perry will share with us data about the changes in student demographics in the community college system, and all of us will have a chance to engage with that data.

The most sweeping change in the plenary session may be in the structure of the schedule. Rather than open the Fall Plenary with a general session, we start off right away with breakouts, moving a general session to later in the afternoon. This shift allows for more time for resolution writing on Thursday afternoon.

Late risers will be unhappy, but the Area Meetings have been moved to the first thing on Friday morning. This shift allows for longer meetings and the extra time for discussion of resolutions that many have requested. Participants in Area Meetings will also have much more time to craft amendments before the required attendance at the resolution amendment breakout late in the afternoon.

It remains to be seen whether the changes in our plenary session schedule will successfully address longstanding challenges to some of our processes for discussion and resolution writing. In the same way, it remains to be seen how the changes that lie before us, locally, statewide, and nationally, will affect us. However, I am confident that our processes for engagement, debate, and decision will prepare us to deal with the changes before us as opportunities for positive transformation.