Faculty Leaders Found Their Way in San Jose

Area C Representative

The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges takes its direction from the collective wisdom of the faculty, expressed in resolutions passed at our biannual plenary sessions, and uses the collective expertise of our faculty to train faculty leaders at our annual institutes. In June 2004, we once again convened the Faculty Leadership Institute, held this year in San Jose. As Chair of the Relations with Local Senates Committee, the responsibility of heading up this year's Leadership Institute fell to me and the other members of the Executive Committee who contributed their talents. Thus, campus senate leaders, both inexperienced and seasoned, were able to learn much in a short period of time.

Institutions of higher education came into existence around 1,000 years ago, the first one in the United States being Harvard, established in 1636. The first United States community college was established a little over 100 years ago. The legislation, AB1725, that led to Title 5 changes giving community college academic senates primacy over defined academic and professional matters, was passed in 1988, just 16 years ago. Many of us, both administrators and faculty, began our careers in community college education more than 16 years ago, and have had to adapt to a different style of decision-making based on this legislation. How well different California community college districts have adapted to participatory governance varies dramatically among the 72 districts and 109 community colleges now in existence in California.

Enlightened administrations embrace the Title 5 Regulations, recognizing that indeed the collective wisdom of the faculty produces an academic environment on their campuses most conducive to teaching and learning. Few administrations continue to resent what they perceive as an erosion of their power and authority.

Fortunately, the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges was conceived 20 years before the passage of AB1725, and we held our first meeting 35 years ago. ASCCC was well prepared, therefore, to meet the challenges created by a move to full participatory governance. Perhaps the biggest challenge facing ASCCC was how to impart the knowledge gained by the few enlightened faculty members involved in academic senates to help all faculty leaders take the lead on academic and professional matters on their campuses. Our leadership institutes are one important mechanism to share that crucial information.

Thus, having found their way to San Jose this year, participants were handed, upon registration, a binder chock full of useful information, as well as invitations to become more involved in ASCCC committees, so that they can assume the role of trainers of future senate leaders, as those of us now in leadership move on to other things. Some of the highlights of the Institute were:

an evening open forum with all Executive Committee members, following an opening address by Kate Clark;

a panel of four Executive Committee members, covering the main questions and challenges that face educators as they enter the world of campus overview of issues facing our system, including budget and changes in the Chancellor's Office;

an address by Sondra Saterfield, the newest faculty representative on the state Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges;

an extremely interesting and useful Internetaided address about "DataMart" by Vice- Chancellor Patrick Perry from the Chancellor's Office (see Mark Lieu's related article in this Rostrum);

an effective address by ASCCC officers Ian Walton and Mark Lieu on healthy local senate relations with administration and trustees;

a panel, led by Executive Committee member, Jane Patton, on effective communication;

a legal update led by Executive Committee member, Wanda Morris, who introduced Wendy Gabriella and Carmen Dominguez, two faculty members from South Orange County District, battling for legal recognition of academic senates in that district, who illustrated how that battle might affect us all;

a Budget 101 presentation; and

an impressive array of smaller breakout sessions, led by Executive Committee members on hiring and equivalency, program discontinuance, faculty and student ethics, senate/student and senate/union relations, hot legislative issues, student equity plans, Academic Senate resources, IMPAC, and curriculum and technology.

By all accounts, participants who found their way to San Jose in 2004 left the Institute energized and ready to take on the challenges facing them on their campuses, rather than feeling overwhelmed by them.

If you missed the Faculty Leadership Institute this year, plan on allocating a few days in June to attend next year. If funding is a problem, talk to us, as several scholarships were awarded this year. Meanwhile, you can find a wealth of useful knowledge on our website, http://www.academicsenate.cc.ca.us.