“Our work is about the “We” not the “I”
Serving on the Executive Committee of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) is amazing, exhausting, exhilarating, and even sometimes overwhelming. It is truly an opportunity to represent the 60,000 dynamic faculty members throughout the California Community Colleges system, but with this great honor comes great responsibility. As faculty consider running for the ASCCC Executive Committee, this article offers some advice and “what we wish we knew” through a collection of quotations from current and former Executive Committee members. The following are some considerations to help interested faculty determine when or if it is their time to run.
COMMITMENT TO THE ASCCC
“The role of an Executive Committee member is year-round. There is less work to do during the summer and winter breaks, but terms are for an entire year or two years.”
The ASCCC recognizes the benefits to students, faculty, and the California Community Colleges system that are gained from a variety of personal experiences, values, and views that derive from individuals with diverse backgrounds. Executive Committee members have respect for and are committed to promoting equal opportunity and inclusion of diverse voices and opinions, particularly through the trajectory of serving in various roles on the committee or as an ASCCC officer.
This service is a commitment that is not confined to the academic year. While the work may slow down to a degree between June and August, Executive Committee members do not take the summer off. Summer events such as the Faculty Leadership Institute and the Curriculum Institute, as well as ongoing work such as monitoring legislation and Chancellor’s Office activities, make serving on the Executive Committee a year-round experience.
TYPE OF WORK
“Exec is less about employing what you already know and more about learning and growing.”
When considering serving for the ASCCC in various capacities, one should recognize that the California Community Colleges system itself is diverse in terms of the size, location, and student population of its colleges and districts, and both one’s participation and demands will vary according to the position one holds and the assignments one is given. The Executive Committee experience is in many ways more about what you take away than what you bring with you, so members must be open to learning.
Each Executive Committee member is typically assigned to chair at least one committee or taskforce and be the second on another. Being a chair requires the member to choose faculty for the committee and regularly convene the committee both face-to-face and online, as well as generate and address resolutions, participate in requests for visits to colleges, or develop papers assigned to the committee. Other opportunities for leadership development may include running events such as regional meetings, institutes, academies, and webinars along with significant participation in each plenary session. Each executive committee member may also be also assigned to additional committees for the ASCCC and the CCC Chancellor’s Office or may be designated as a liaison to system partners such as the CCC Chief Instructional Officers, the CCC Association for Occupational Education, the Research and Planning Group, or the Faculty Association for California Community Colleges.
Executive Committee members are also expected to attend multi-day Executive Committee meetings each month with the expectation of both being prepared and actively participating in discussions. Other expectations may include presentations for system partner conferences or workshops and developing and composing Rostrum articles. As with most positions, members may also have “other duties as assigned.”
“Be prepared to learn fast and work hard!”
The time commitment for working on the Executive Committee is immense and no amount of reassigned time would cover the amount of work required to be an effective Executive Committee member. When funding is available, Executive Committee members receive reassigned time based on what duties they will take on that year, how much reassigned time is reasonable to address those duties, and how much reassigned time they can accept based on their class load for the year. However, as with most leadership positions, the reassigned time is never enough.
The ASCCC compensates colleges for members’ reassigned time but pays the part-time average reassignment rate, not a member’s specific pay rate, to the college. Potential candidates for Exec should have conversations with their local colleges about the impact their election might have on the colleges or their programs.
“Minimize your faculty leadership roles locally. It is hard to effectively balance the perspectives necessary to lead locally while also leading statewide. Serving as a representative on the Executive Committee is a commitment that requires more time and effort than most professional development growth and service opportunities.”
The workload and time commitment required to be an Executive Committee member is something that should be thought out and discussed with a potential candidate’s supervisor and department before running. Exec members have a significant workload and preparation for expectations each week. Often the load is based on a 40-hour work week and equivalent to the amount of preparation for a lecture hour unit or other calculation of one’s load. One should anticipate a lot of reading—200-plus page agendas for Exec meetings, legislation, papers, and other material—as well as meetings both in person and by zoom and travel.
IMPACT ON LIFE
“It is imperative to have the support of your family, especially spouses, as you’ll be spending time away from them regularly for Executive Committee meetings, other ASCCC events, and additional expectations.”
The amount of work and time commitment required to be an Executive Committee member is also something that should be thought out and discussed with one’s family before running. Depending on their roles, members could be on the road several times in a month or a week, including weekends, depending on where they are needed. That means early morning or late night drives or flights or spending a lot of time at airports. Some of this work can be done from home or one’s college office, but much of it must be done in person. Depending on where one lives and access to airports or train stations, some members might be spending considerable time traveling up and down the state. Members might miss some important events in the lives of their friends, partners, and children. These statements are not meant to discourage potential members from running for a position but rather to provide enough information for interested faculty to make an educated decision as to whether to run or when they should run and to be prepared for the work.
BENEFITS OF THE WORK
“The work is challenging but rewarding because you will be learning and growing and building relationships and connections.”
Being on the Executive Committee is a great deal of work, time, and travel, but it is also an amazing professional and personal experience. The group is a supportive team that works together to advance the members’ goals and those of the organization. The Executive Committee is a true service organization. Members expand their knowledge of the community college system and are “stretched and given the opportunity to lead in new ways.”
Leadership development is a critical element of being on the Committee. Members are expected to provide leadership in their assignments, but those who are new are also mentored by the more experienced members of the group. Colleagues are there to provide support and a sounding board and to push new members to expand their knowledge and skills.
“My best memories of Exec are from dinners together, long car rides together, sitting around in a lounge and having a drink in the evening, and things of that nature.”
The Executive Committee experience also includes moments of fun, friendship and encouragement. Of course, not everyone gets along all the time, and differing opinions on the direction of the Executive Committee or the ASCCC often arise. Dialogue is encouraged, and everyone has the opportunity to provide a point of view. That open dialogue and discussion is a sign of a healthy organization. Each member is also encouraged to practice self-care, as one cannot represent others if one does not take care of oneself.
HOW CAN YOU LEARN MORE ABOUT SERVING ON THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE?
If the idea of serving on the Executive Committee sounds intriguing or exciting now or in the future, interested faculty might take the following steps:
- Talk to a current or past executive member. Ask questions.
- Attend an ASCCC Executive Committee meeting. Agendas and meeting locations are posted on the ASCCC website.
- Attend plenary sessions and ASCCC events to see Executive Committee members at work.
- Fill out the intent to serve form and serve on an ASCCC committee.
- Review the ASCCC committee meeting calendar and ASCCC events website to gain an understanding of time and travel commitments.
- Participate in the candidate forum at a plenary session.
Multiple ways of serving with the ASCCC exist, including the Executive Committee, other committee and taskforce work, representation on Chancellor’s Office committees, and more. The ASCCC hopes that as interested faculty consider running for the Executive Committee, these tips and considerations help them to make an educated decision.