Fall Session: The Firsts and the Lasts

Executive Director

This last fall the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges concluded another successful Plenary Session. This year the 32nd Fall session was again held at the Los Angeles Airport Westin hotel. The overall program centered around the theme "Building for the Future: Serving a Broader Community." Breakouts included a wide range of hot topics like Partnership for Excellence, General Education, the Little Hoover Commission Report, the Master Plan, leadership issues, affirmative action, prerequisites, learning communities, alternative calendars, vocational education, and, as usual, technology. There was something to interest everyone!

While this was the 32nd time the Academic Senate has gathered the faculty from California community colleges, this plenary session had its very important milestones. This year for the first time in the session history a breakout was held for the local senate staff. The purpose of the breakout was to highlight the resources available on the state and local level to help local senate staff run the office smoothly, hire new staff, and assist the local senate president in her/his role. However, much to the surprise of the breakout facilitators, in addition to staff local senate presidents attended the breakout. The local senate presidents were looking for justifications for getting office support. It was obvious that the local senates need staff but do not have the support of their campus administrators; they came to this breakout to get some ideas.

While this was a notable first, there was another event that stood out from all the rest. This was the plenary session that the Executive Student performer Committee honored Edith Conn, our longstanding Area C representative. Edith has been with the Academic Senate for more than 28 years. She truly has dedicated her life to the work of the Academic Senate, and has shepherded the Senate from its rather humble beginnings to its present organizational scope. During the Friday general session Edith was presented with a resolution, a commemoration award for her many years of dedication to the senate, faculty and students, and a 2001 calendar "The Men of the Senate." To those who know her, the calendar was a bit of an inside joke; Edith Conn had for many years promised to retire only when the calendar featuring the men of the Academic Senate was published. Edith left the Academic Senate Executive Committee duties last Spring. Yet, remembered and recognized by many for her years of service to the community colleges, she deserved to be honored for her work with this small token of appreciation. The Senate Office staff combed the archives for pictures of men closely associated with the work of the Academic Senate. Featured in the calendar were many previous Senate Presidents and other members of the Executive Committee. There was also a collage of Edith over the years. To continue this nice tradition and to recognize the great work of many notable women who contributed their efforts and talents to the work of the Academic Senate, the next year's calendar will feature the women of the Senate.

Thursday night entertainment continued the theme of a broader community even after the official part of the session was over. The Moorpark Community College dance director Daniel Berney coordinated an ensemble of dance programs from Southern California community colleges. Represented here were the talents of all ages and genres from Golden West, Moorpark , Riverside, Santa Ana, Santa Monica, Southwestern, and West Los Angeles colleges. The students and the dance selection showed the diversity of the communities we serve. The grateful audience was treated to an evening dance program of exceptional variety. The scene from the classic Tchaikovsky's ballet "Swan Lake" was followed by an eccentric solo choreographed by the student herself and performed to the nostalgic music of Edith Piaf. Ethnic dance arrangements, humorous tap dance composition and even a number from the famous Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical "Phantom of the Opera" flashed before the eyes of the amazed audience as the evening went on.

At this session for the first time the Executive Committee instituted a "Breakfast with the President," an informal question and answer session led by the President with the whole plenary body present. The roving mike for those posing questions gave the faculty a chance to interact on issues facing the field. The Chancellor and other Chancellor's Office staff were present in the audience; it was a good opportunity for them to hear faculty concerns, and also to respond to questions and engage in brief dialogue around the issues. The feedback on this event was very positive, and it will be repeated in future sessions.

On Friday the session attendees were entertained by our very own Vice President Hoke Simpson; members of his former band, and the original author of the famous song, "Wipeout", the Fullerton college senate president Bob Berryhill, set the evening on fire. Nobody could stay still listening to the fine mix of blues and the music of the Surfaris. Even the most conservative of the attendees were dancing to the firing beats well into the night. To add to the home-made charm of the evening came the delicious Chardonnay produced by the students of the Modesto Junior college. The evening ended much too early to say the least!

On Saturday, the delegates voted on resolutions generated from the area meetings and the many breakouts during the session. There were more than 40 resolutions adopted. The resolutions are available on the Senate website.

Later that day there was an election for the vacant position of the Senate Secretary. Three candidates ran for the position. Kate Clark, the South Representative and faculty member at Irvine Valley College won the position. Kate's assuming the position of the Secretary freed up the position of the South Representative on the Executive Committee. A nomination came from the floor to fill the vacant position. Two candidates ran for the position. Renee Tuller, a counselor from Santa Ana College, and now serves as the Representative from the South.

Local academic senates are the heart of the deliberative process of the Academic Senate; through the resolution process, delegates from local senates determine the policies and priorities of the Academic Senate throughout the year. If you were not able to attend this year's fall session, please plan on joining us next year from November 1 - 3, 2001 at the Cerritos Sheraton Hotel. Local senates are encouraged to send a team of representatives, as well as their delegate, to cover the many important breakouts.