One of the core pieces of the Academic Senate’s mission statement is that ASCCC “fosters the effective participation by community college faculty in all statewide and local academic and professional matters; develops, promotes, and acts upon policies responding to statewide concerns.” While the members of the Executive Committee act as representatives in statewide discussions, the executive committee cannot fulfill this mission alone. The Senate puts on many events every year to provide interested faculty with professional development opportunities on topics including accreditation, curriculum, and effective leadership. If you have ever attended a Senate event, you have seen faculty presenting on a wide array of topics. Most of the presenters at the plenary sessions and other senate events are members of the Academic Senate’s committees. The Academic Senate depends on broad participation of faculty throughout the state to help fulfill its mission through the work of its committees and task forces.
Senate committees are where most resolutions are addressed, publications are developed, and many Rostrum articles and session presentations are born. Some have asked how standing committee membership is determined. Appointments to standing committees begin with the selection of the committee chair. Immediately following the elections at spring plenary session, the president works with the vice president and the executive director to select the committee chairs and other Executive Committee members to serve on each standing committee. Selecting additional committee members begins with reviewing the Applications for State Service, which are found on the Senate website. The application for service is an essential link between the Academic Senate and the faculty, as it provides the Senate staff and the Executive Committee with vital information about a faculty member’s willingness to serve their interests and background from work at the local and statewide level. Using this information, the Senate staff compiles all of the applications and distributes a list of interested faculty to each committee chair. The committee chair then works with the president, the executive director, other members of the Executive Committee, including past committee chairs, local senate presidents, and others, to create a list of possible committee members.
What does the Senate consider when making these appointments? The Senate seeks to appoint a diverse group of faculty to serve on its committees. This consideration includes diversity in race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability status, age, cultural background, veteran status, discipline or field, and experience as outlined in the Inclusivity Statement on the Senate website. The Senate also attempts to maintain a balance between representatives from the north and south and to include representatives from small, medium, and large colleges. Beginning with the list provided by the Senate Office, the committee chair contacts individuals to determine if they have the requisite skill and experience and are willing and able to serve. Once the committee chair has identified the possible membership of their committee, the list is submitted to the president and executive director, who review the recommendations to ensure that perspective committee members have not been chosen for another committee, as well as to review potential applicants for diversity, regional balance, and prior experience. For those appointed to the Senate standing committees, the Executive Committee approves the membership.
Are standing committees the only opportunities to serve? While standing committee members are often the most visible Senate representatives, more than 150 additional faculty members represent the Senate in a variety of venues. In 2014-15 the Senate has appointed representatives to all three technology initiatives (Common Assessment Initiative, Educational Planning Initiative, and Online Education Initiative) and their workgroups, Chancellor’s Office committees, task forces, and advisory groups, intersegmental groups, and the C-ID System as faculty reviewers. All of these appointments are made as they are requested, which may occur any time during the year. As the requests for faculty appointments are received, the president works with the executive director to identify faculty with the background to participate on a particular group. These qualifications could include experience with online education, curriculum, course design, technology, particular disciplines, and many more. Once possible candidates have been identified, the executive director contacts the local senate president to determine if the faculty member would be a good fit for the appointment. If endorsement of the local president is received, the faculty member is approved to serve. Unlike appointments to standing committees, these appointments do not come to the Executive Committee for approval.
What makes appointments to other groups different? These appointments are often needed immediately, but the Executive Committee may not meet before the appointment is needed. In order for the Senate to effectively advocate for the faculty, representatives need to be present at all meetings. If making an appointment had to wait for the Executive Committee’s approval, decisions might be made without faculty input. In addition, the Executive Committee may have no experience with potential applicants, so the local senate president approval should be sufficient to support the appointment since he or she has direct experience with the potential appointee.
Whether selected to serve on a standing committee or some other group, each appointee makes the work of the Senate possible. Without faculty volunteers, the Senate would not be able to participate in so many important conversations and help shape the future of the California community colleges. If you have not completed an Application for State Service, we highly encourage you to add your name to the list of those already participating at the state level. You can find more information and the Application for State Service on the Senate website.