2009 Spring Plenary Session


Welcome to Spring Session 2009. As the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges celebrates its 40th anniversary, the organization, like individuals, finds this landmark age a time to stop and take measure of where we are and where we want to be. The Academic Senate was formed to provide a means whereby college and district senates could have a voice on the statewide level. As Norbert Bischof and Jonathan Lightman shared with us at the Fall Plenary Session, this desire for effective participation coupled with the desire to move community colleges into higher education resulted in Assembly Bill 1725, which provides the foundation and structure for the Academic Senate's role in participatory governance.

However, over its 40-year history, not only has the authority of the Academic Senate changed but also its purpose and activities. The plenary session and the resolutions process have remained solidly at the core of how the Academic Senate sets its priorities and positions, but today the Academic Senate asserts not only its primacy in academic and professional matters but also its ability to lead and collaborate across constituencies. The Academic Senate has taken a significant role in providing professional development, from leadership training for local senates and career technical education faculty to training in curriculum, accreditation, and basic skills. The Academic Senate has established a co-equal role with its UC and CSU counterparts in intersegmental discussions and as the voice of public higher education in California.

Not surprisingly, the now middle-aged Academic Senate is being somewhat introspective. The Academic Senate is reviewing its mission, its strategic plan, and its image. The Academic Senate has established a foundation, cognizant of the challenges that the organization will undoubtedly face in the future with respect to state funding and the opportunities that may come from grantors. The Academic Senate continues to look at technology to find better ways to deliver resources, to communicate, and to support the work of your elected Executive Committee.

With this Plenary Session, you will find general sessions and breakouts that address issues that have probably been around for the last forty years: the challenges facing multi-college districts, the use of prerequisites to foster student success, the need to help train faculty to hire the best faculty in all its diversity, and the need to establish minimum qualifications for faculty. There are new issues as well - many connected with the need to provide an accounting for what we do and whether or not we are doing so effectively. In addition to the accountability of current accreditation standards, there are breakouts to help us better code our basic skills courses so that we can better account for student progress and success and to address the need to sustain our world in good shape for future generations.

We are honored and pleased to have our new System Chancellor Jack Scott join us to share his greatest hopes for the future even as we all confront the challenges before us today. We will also have the chance to thank Diane Woodruff for her service to us as interim Chancellor for almost two years. Another key event is our election for members of the Executive Committee, including a new President.

While a 40th anniversary may not seem that significant in light of the economic turmoil that grips our nation and the world, here in California, the Academic Senate and you, its members, support the largest system of public higher education in the United States, and we have been doing so for forty years. It is the opportunity for learning that we provide that will ultimately bring our state out of this recession and once again into economic prosperity. It is the opportunity for learning that we provide that gives hope and changes lives. It is the opportunity for learning that we provide that fosters community and democracy.



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