President's Message: Strengthening the Academic Senate Role in Governance

January
1998
Bill Scroggins, President

Your state Academic Senate provides a great deal of support to you as a local faculty leader. One of our major goals for this year is to enhance that support even more. As a local faculty senate leader, it is vital for you to start off on the right foot.

Each June the Academic Senate conducts the Faculty Leadership Institute, four days of intensive training and networking to prepare you to be an effective senate leader. Last year 75 faculty from throughout the state attended workshops and were led through exercises and situation analysis by the experienced members of our Executive Committee. In addition, Institute participants get a resource book that is valuable on a day-to-day basis. This year's Institute will be held in Palm Springs from June 25th to the 28th.

Our Geocluster Network arranges senates in regions of 6 to 10 colleges with a local leader to facilitate exchange of information and plan 3 to 4 meetings each year. These meetings provide an opportunity for neighboring senate leaders to get together and share common concerns and successful strategies. They also provide a forum for geocluster leaders and regional Executive Committee members to discuss late-breaking state issues. To contact your geocluster leader, look in your senate directory or call the Sacramento office.

When you have an urgent need or a pressing question, you can always call me directly at our Sacramento office. One of my personal goals for the year is to return your calls promptly. If I cannot meet your need myself, I will put you in contact with someone who can. The officers and members of the Executive Committee are also available to come directly to your campus. I personally have visited 30 to 40 colleges a year, presenting on topics such as shared governance, curriculum, program review, matriculation, and teaching/learning styles.

Our Executive Committee members have expertise covering a wide range of topics. You may have attended one of our Fall Session breakouts and thought of the number of faculty at your college who would benefit from hearing such a presentation. By contacting our Sacramento office and making arrangements through me as Senate president, our presentations can be brought directly to you! We usually ask that you cover the travel and materials costs and make whatever additional contribution your budget allows. However, cost is not a barrier. If you have a need that we can meet, we will be at your doorstep even if you do not have local resources.

Many times the problems you face relate to an issue you have with your president, chancellor, or governing board. If you have tried to solve the problem and feel like you are at a stand-still, outside help or mediation may be what you need. The Academic Senate and the Community College League (representing CEOs and trustees) have agreed on a set of shared governance guidelines and a technical assistance process which is available to you. If you are at a point where such intervention may be required, call the Sacramento office for more information. While the shared governance guidelines and assistance process have proved extremely valuable since their creation in 1992, our issues have become considerably more complex since then. In response, the Senate and the League have formed a task force to write an additional set of guidelines on these recent issues and to discuss refinements of the technical assistance process. Lee Haggerty, Lin Marelick and Nancy Silva will join me in meeting with League representatives next month. We plan to have a document ready for presentation at Spring Session.

One of the ways that we at the state level can provide support for your efforts at the local level is to build in defined roles for the local senate. Of course, you are familiar with the collegial consultation process in Title 5 sections 53200-204, written to implement Education Code 70902(b)(7). However, you should not neglect other portions of the AB 1725 reform legislation that strengthened the role of local senates in governance. These are summarized in the box titled "Academic Senate Authorities in the Education Code." Title 5 also has additional authorities assigned to the academic senate which are summarized in a similar box.

Academic Senate Authorities in the Education Code

1. Equivalency to Minimum Qualifications [Ed. Code 87359(b)] The process, as well as criteria and standards by which the governing board reaches its determinations, shall be developed and agreed upon jointly by representatives of the governing board and the academic senate and approved by the governing board. The agreed upon process shall include reasonable procedures to ensure that the governing board relies primarily upon the advice and judgment of the academic senate to determine that each individual employed under the authority granted by the regulations possesses qualifications that are at least equivalent to the applicable minimum qualifications specified in regulations adopted by the board of governors.

2. Hiring Criteria [Ed. Code 87360(b)] No later than July 1, 1990, hiring criteria, policies, and procedures for new faculty members shall be developed and agreed upon jointly by the representatives of the governing board and the academic senate, and approved by the governing board.

3. Administrative Retreat Rights [Ed. Code 87458(a)] The process by which the governing board reaches the determination shall be developed and agreed upon jointly by representatives of the governing board and the academic senate, and approved by the governing board. The agreed upon process shall include reasonable procedures to ensure that the governing board relies primarily upon the advice and judgment of the academic senate to determine that the administrator possesses the minimum qualifications for employment as a faculty member.

4. Tenure Evaluation Procedures [Ed. Code 87610.1(a)] .the faculty's exclusive representative shall consult with the academic senate prior to engaging in collective bargaining on these procedures.

5. Waiver of Minimum Qualifications for Tenure [Ed. Code 87615(b)] The process by which the governing board reaches the determination shall be developed and agreed upon jointly by representatives of the governing board and the academic senate, and approved by the governing board. The agreed upon process shall include reasonable procedures to ensure that the governing board relies primarily upon the advice and judgment of the academic senate to determine that rare and compelling reasons exist to grant tenure.

6. Evaluation Procedures [Ed. Code 87663(f)] .the faculty's exclusive representative shall consult with the academic senate prior to engaging in collective bargaining regarding those procedures.

7. Faculty Service Areas [Ed. Code 87743.2] .The establishment of faculty service areas shall be within the scope of meeting and negotiating pursuant to section 354.3.2 of the government code. The exclusive representative shall consult with the academic senate in developing its proposals.

Academic Senate Authorities in Title 5

1. Hours of Instruction - Late Retirement [Title 5 53310(g)] Districts are required to fill position(s) by the following Spring primary term unless designees for the district governing board and academic senate jointly agree that it is in the best interests of the district to delay the filling of the position.

2. Student Equity Plans [Title 5 542320(b)] These plans should be developed with the active involvement of all groups on campus.

3. Curriculum Committee [Title 5 55002(a)(1)] The college and/or district curriculum committee recommending the course shall be established by the mutual agreement of the college and/or district administration and the academic senate. The committee shall be either a committee of the academic senate or a committee that includes faculty and is otherwise comprised in a way that is mutually agreeable to the college and/or district administration and the academic senate.

4. Distance Education Course Quality Determinations [Title 5 55374] Determinations and judgments about the quality of distance education, under the course quality standards in Section 55372, shall be made with the full involvement of faculty in accordance with.Sections 53200 [et seq.].

5. Matriculation Plans [Title 5 55510(b)] The plan shall be developed through consultation with representatives of the academic senate, students, and staff with appropriate expertise, pursuant to Section 51023 et seq.

One of the ways your state Academic Senate has sought to have these various local senate roles acknowledged is by requiring faculty sign-offs on key documents:

1. Matriculation annual budget report (October)
2. Grant applications, e.g., Fund for Instructional Improvement (March and at other times)
3. Accreditation Self-Study, including the right to file a minority report (every 6 years)
4. IGETC and CSU GE-Breadth course submission forms (December)
5. New program approval applications (as locally developed)
6. Staff development plans (every 3 years)
7. CalWORKs comprehensive plans (November)

These faculty sign-offs acknowledge that academic senates have effectively participated in the development of recommendations in academic and professional matters and other issues identified in the Education Code and Title 5. Do not take these sign-offs lightly. Many state faculty leaders have struggled mightily to assure your participation in the decision-making process. Be sure that those who are responsible for preparing these reports and applications know that full faculty senate involvement is required.

Your state Senate has been working with the Chancellor's Office to be sure that all pertinent documents are mailed to local senate presidents as well as to the college contact person on each issue. Read these announcements carefully, get your senate involved immediately, and calendar the due dates to be sure your response is ready.

Keeping up with this flood of information is certainly a challenge for local faculty leaders. One of my personal goals for the year is to assure that essential information is in your hands in a timely and usable fashion. One strategy has been to use our Academic Senate web site more effectively. To that end, we have established a new domain at www.academicsenate.cc.ca.us and expanded the topics covered. Much appreciation is in order for Dave Megill and the faculty at Miracosta College for hosting our site for the last three years. We have a few kinks to work out in our new site, and the Executive Committee will be reviewing the design in January, but then we should be able to move ahead.

The site will feature all Senate papers and Plenary Session resolutions in a key word searchable format. Documents can be viewed on line or downloaded in formatted versions. An on-line directory of senate leaders will allow you to contact any of your colleagues by phone, email, or snail-mail. Announcements of workshops, institutes and plenary sessions will give complete information including proposed new position papers and resolutions which will be available in a timely fashion for debate on your campus prior to their consideration at plenary sessions. Issue forums will allow you to pose questions and get responses from faculty throughout the state. Distribution lists of academic senate presidents will allow the state Senate and local senate presidents to communicate quickly with colleagues throughout the state. We will distribute our publications online as well as by mail: the creative and inspiring annual Forum, the in-depth analysis of issues in the quarterly Rostrum, and brief summaries of current events in the president's monthly Update.

Being an effective faculty leader requires the tools to do the job. Training, networking, collaboration, and access to information empower you to represent your faculty well. It is our goal as your state Academic Senate to put those tools in your hands!

The articles published in the Rostrum do not necessarily represent the adopted positions of the academic senate. For adopted positions and recommendations, please browse this website.