The Nature of Giving: An Interview with a Foundation Donor

December
2010
Beth Smith, President of the Academic Senate Foundation
Kate Clark, Former President of the Academic Senate

I understand you have chosen to give to the Academic Senate Foundation for California Community Colleges.

Yes. Although all of us are besieged by our alma mater and worthy causes, I am pleased to support the Foundation. As a recent retiree, I have to be all the more careful about organizations I choose to support.

So why did you decide to give to the Foundation?

It was really rather simple: I owed the Academic Senate and needed to return to others what the Academic Senate had provided me over the years. When I was a fledgling local senate president, ASCCC Executive Committee members came to my college’s rescue, providing legal and moral support in the face of egregious Title 5 violations. And I attended ASCCC Plenary Sessions and Institutes—Leadership, Vocational Education, and Curriculum. Even the many publications, and the website and the office staff who answered questions and referred me to those who mentored me—for all of that, I owed the Academic Senate something in return. I needed to repay my debt to ensure that all those who follow may likewise benefit in the years to come.

But wasn’t it enough that you served as a local senate president and then on the ASCCC Executive Committee? Wasn’t that a kind of repayment?

No. As rewarding as those experiences were for me, it is the on-going work that the Academic Senate does that warrants my on-going support. After all, it costs to print the Rostrum, to maintain and improve the website, to sponsor plenary sessions, to send Technical Assistance teams to local colleges. The Academic Senate is a frugal organization that seeks inclusion of all colleges and their faculty. Unlike the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) or the Community College League of California (CCLC), the Academic Senate has kept its dues at a nominal rate. But its Chancellor’s Office funding has been slashed over the years by over 30%. That’s a lot to absorb and still maintain the quality of services that the Academic Senate has provided to faculty over its 41 years! Readers of this interview are probably serving now; but they incur their own debt to the Academic Senate.

What do you anticipate that the Foundation will do with donations?

The Foundation’s mission spells it out rather clearly: The Foundation seeks to “enhance the excellence of the California community colleges by sustained support for professional development of the faculty in the furtherance of effective teaching and learning practices.” Briefly, the Foundation wants to provide stability and continuity to the projects of ASCCC. And it is able to apply for external grant and longer-term funding opportunities that are not available to the Academic Senate because of its separate but different non-profit status. In general, grants would be targeted toward very specific projects to improve teaching and learning, or to further the work of teachers in basic skills and CTE—or other projects consonant with the Senate’s mission. Our donations to the Foundation could also be used for a wider variety of related purposes—such as sponsoring plenary speakers, and offering scholarships for faculty to attend ASCCC events, such as the Foundation is doing in 2011 so that part-time faculty can attend the Basic Skills Institute.

How did you choose to give to the Foundation?

I’m giving in two ways: one, I’m volunteering my time to serve on the Foundation Board of Directors. Second, I sent a check as the first of what I intend will be an annual financial gift to this new Foundation. But that’s not the only way to contribute. Others may prefer a monthly donation—or a planned giving option. The Foundation would also benefit from those who can help us identify other potential donors or grantors in the national community. The website http://www.asfccc.com has more information about easy ways faculty can recompense the senate. I hope they will do so.

The Academic Senate Foundation is a 501 (C) (3) non-profit organization. Your donations are tax-deductible.

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