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2024 February Rostrum


Who We Are: Over a Decade of Purposeful Change for the ASCCC Organization

ASCCC President
ASCCC Executive Director

In 2009, the delegates to the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) spring plenary session passed Resolution 1.02 SP 09, directing the ASCCC to conduct a self-study to “assess the effectiveness of its efforts and the perceptions of the success of these efforts to promote equal opportunity, including collecting data on the inclusion of diverse voices and opinions” and to “report to the body at a future plenary session the results of the self-study.” [1] In 2012, the ASCCC’s Executive Committee conducted such a study and released the demographic information regarding its membership, including information on the Executive Committee during that time. The information gleaned from that self-study showed that in 2012, a majority of the respondents (90%) were full-time faculty, a majority of the respondents from across the community college system identified as white (54%), and 52% identified as women. This data was presented in a Rostrum article that outlined the results of the survey, provided an analysis, and highlighted the efforts of the time to diversify (Townsend-Marino & Smith, 2012).

Over a decade has passed since that original study was published, and much has changed both within the community college system and with the ASCCC. With Resolution 1.01 in Spring 2018, the plenary session delegates adopted the ASCCC’s five-year strategic plan, which included a goal directing the ASCCC to “Engage and empower diverse groups of faculty at all levels of state and local leadership.” Embedded in that goal was a strategy to “Increase the diversity of faculty representation on committees of the ASCCC, including the Executive Committee, and other system consultation bodies to better reflect the diversity of California.” While the ASCCC recognizes that people have varying intersections that make up their identity, consistent with system-wide diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility efforts, the ASCCC’s diversity efforts have been focused on increasing racial diversity in representation on the Executive Committee as well as faculty representation across the state through various committee appointments.   

Executive Committee Survey

Since 2018, the ASCCC Executive Committee, the board that governs the organization, has made remarkable strides to diversify its elected membership. A survey was sent to current and past members of the Executive Committee who served between 2018 and 2023. The results of that survey were distributed in spring 2023 as part of the ASCCC Comprehensive Strategic Plan (ASCCC, 2023). In 2018, a majority of board members—nine—identified as being Caucasian or White. In 2023, that number decreased to 40%, with less than six members of the board identifying as Caucasian or White. Simultaneously, Hispanic/Chicano/Latinx faculty showed an increase from 7%, or one member, in 2018 to 27%, or four members, in 2023. Black or African-American faculty representation remained steady from 2018 to 2022, hovering around three or four members or 20-27%; however, in 2023, a dip in representation occurred to 13% or two members. Significantly, representation of Asian/Pacific Islander/South East Asian increased, with no representation in 2018 to 20% or three members in 2023.

ASCCC Executive Committee Dioversity Graph 2022

Organizational Leadership and Why Representation Matters

The ASCCC’s efforts to increase the diversity of faculty and, importantly, faculty leaders has been driven internally by delegates and Executive Committee leadership consistent with the expectations of students and external groups or organizations. The Campaign for College Opportunity (2018) report Left Out: How Exclusion in California’s Colleges and Universities Hurts Our Values, Our Students, and Our Economy pointed to the ASCCC Executive Committee’s observed 2016-2017 composition of primarily white members (73%) with some African-American (20%) and Latinx (7%) representation but no Asian-American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander representation. In its entirety, the report examined representation within California’s colleges and universities, drawing attention to the growth in racial and ethnic diversity needed to have faculty, campus leaders, and system leaders representative of the diversity of the students being served.

As the ASCCC continues to monitor and improve its own diversity of leadership and faculty participation on standing committees, the public understandably continues to scrutinize the progress. In January 2024, the system leaders of the California Community Colleges, California State University, and University of California participated in a panel discussion facilitated by the Campaign for College Opportunity to both celebrate the Campaign’s twenty years of work to influence student-focused higher education policy and to announce the release of a new report, Still Left Out: How Exclusion in California’s Colleges and Universities Continues to Hurt Our Values, Students and Democracy (Campaign for College Opportunity, 2024). As in the 2018 report, the ASCCC was one of many leadership groups reviewed in the 2024 paper along with local academic senates, faculty, administrators, boards of trustees, and the California Community Colleges Board of Governors. All three segments of higher education were then provided a critique of diversity efforts over a five-year range from 2016-2017 to 2020-2021.

As evidenced by its mission, vision, strategic plan, and work, the ASCCC believes in the underlying message of the importance of diversity and representation conveyed in the Campaign for College Opportunity paper. This importance extends beyond the success of students; it is integral for the broader advancement of society. The ASCCC continues to work with intentionality to ensure that the leadership of the organization remains diverse in order to represent many different ideas, thoughts, and viewpoints. Since 2018, the ASCCC has made significant efforts and progress to increase the diversity of faculty representation on committees of the ASCCC, including the Executive Committee, and other system bodies to better reflect the diversity of California and ensure that broad faculty voices, experiences, and viewpoints are represented.

Annually, the ASCCC releases demographic data on faculty appointments to its standing committees and task forces (ASCCC, 2022). The data collected beginning in 2017 demonstrates an overall upward trend of racial diversification of faculty appointments to the standing committees. The Campaign for College Opportunity’s Still Left Out report acknowledges improvements in the ASCCC’s racial diversity, although unfortunately the report fell short of acknowledging the continued diversification through the 2023-2024 board, the most diverse of the ASCCC’s history.

The ASCCC remains committed to its work on diversity and actively ensuring that representation of varied voices and backgrounds continues to be front and center in its operation. The increase of racial diversity on the Executive Committee over the last five years is heartening and reflects the ASCCC’s continued commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity, antiracism, and accessibility (IDEAA). To the ASCCC, the concepts, beliefs, and actions captured in IDEAA are not mere words; these concepts and efforts form the very framework on which the organization is built. Recognizing that the need to be intentional remains in the organization’s own diversity and inclusion efforts as well as in its support for similar inclusive, diversity-focused efforts by local academic senates,  the ASCCC retains this commitment to IDEAA as a driving force, propelling the ASCCC and faculty statewide toward a more inclusive and equitable future.


Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. (2022). Committee Composition.

Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. (2023). ASCCC Strategic Plan Comprehensive Report 2018-2023.

Campaign for College Opportunity. (2018, March). Left Out: How Exclusion in California’s Colleges and Universities Hurts Our Values, Our Students, and Our Economy.

Campaign for College Opportunity. (2024). Still Left Out: How Exclusion in California’s Colleges and Universities Hurts Our Values, Students and Democracy.

Townsend-Marino, K., & Smith, P. (2012, December). Who We Are: Demographic Survey of ASCCC Committee Members. Senate Rostrum.

1. ASCCC Adopted Resolutions

ASCCC Structural Basics: Board of Directors

ASCCC Area C Representative

“Embracing organizational change” is one of the four 2023-26 Strategic Plan Directions [1] unanimously adopted by the delegates to the Spring 2023 Plenary Session of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) via resolution 01.02 S23. [2] The action in the strategic plan under “embracing organizational change” is to “reimagine ASCCC structures to support the mission,” reflecting a commitment by the ASCCC Executive Committee to critically examine its own structures to better support faculty and ultimately better serve students. In addition, Resolution 01.01 S23 directs the inclusion of a designated at-large part-time faculty member as an addition to the executive committee. Information regarding the ASCCC mission, by-laws, and rules, as well as the Executive Committee policies, is accessible through the ASCCC website ASCCC.org.  

The ASCCC’s Structure and Nonprofit Status

The ASCCC is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization established in 1970. The articles of incorporation indicate the purposes for the organization:

  1. The specific and primary purposes are the promotion and advancement of public community college education in California;
  2. The general purposes and powers are
    1. To strengthen local academic senates and councils of community colleges;
    2. To serve as the voice of the faculty of the community colleges in matters of statewide concern;
    3. To develop policies and promote the implementation of policies on matters of statewide issues;
    4. To make recommendations on statewide matters affecting the community colleges.

Nonprofits have specific requirements beyond the articles of incorporation that include appointing a board of directors and drafting bylaws and a conflict-of-interest policy.

The ASCCC consists of the executive committee, the professional office team, and other components such as ASCCC committees, the Course Identification Numbering System (C-ID), and the Open Educational Resource Initiative. The executive director oversees the day-to-day operations of the ASCCC, managing the office team. As a nonprofit organization, the ASCCC is not subject to the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act for state bodies or the Ralph M. Brown Act for local legislative bodies. However, ASCCC board meetings operate in adherence to open meeting acts as summarized in Executive Committee Policy 10.01 Open Meetings.[3]

ASCCC Executive Committee

As a nonprofit organization, the ASCCC has a board of directors, more often referred to as the Executive Committee. Board members have fiduciary duties of care, inquiry, and loyalty to the ASCCC.

The ASCCC Executive Committee currently consists of fourteen elected members and the executive director, who is appointed by the board of directors and serves as a non-voting member. The organization breaks California up into four geographic areas, A, B, C, and D, constructed with roughly the same number of member senates. As broader divisions, North consists of areas A and B and South of areas C and D. Board members are elected primarily by geographic region. The area to which each member senate is assigned may be found in the college directory on the ASCCC website. In addition, the website includes a list of member senates by area and a map.

The elected members and corresponding areas that elect them are as follows:

  1. President—all areas vote for a one-year term;
  2. Vice President—all areas vote for a one-year term;
  3. Secretary—all areas vote for a one year-term;
  4. Treasurer—all areas vote for a one year-term;
  5. Two At-large Representatives—all areas vote for staggered two-year terms;
  6. Two North Representatives—areas A and B vote for staggered two-year terms;
  7. Two South Representatives—areas C and D vote for staggered two-year terms;
  8. Area A Representative—area A votes for a two-year term;
  9. Area B Representative—area B votes for a two-year term;
  10. Area C Representative—area C votes for a two-year term;
  11. Area D Representative—area D votes for a two-year term.

The officers of the board of directors are the president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and the executive director. Board members are elected to any open seats during spring plenary sessions, with plenary sessions being the biannual—fall and spring—events where the ASCCC conducts business and involves representatives from the member senates. In addition to elections, plenary sessions include debating and voting on resolutions, which is the formal process through which the delegates from local senates guide and direct the work of the ASCCC.

Although board members are elected based on geographic areas, they do not, once elected, serve the specific interests of those areas, nor do they represent their colleges or their disciplines. Instead, all members represent all of the more than 50,000 faculty and advocate for the more than 1.9 million students in the California Community Colleges system. Board members vote and make decisions with fiduciary duties to the ASCCC as a whole, representing the entire state. For example, the Area C Representative does not vote on behalf of the Area C member senates but for the broader interests of faculty and students statewide. Thus, the respective position titles refer to how a member is elected, not whom each member represents.

Responsibilities of board members include attending monthly executive committee meetings, chairing and serving on ASCCC committees, serving on system bodies such as California Community College Chancellor’s Office advisory committees, serving as liaisons to system partners, organizing and presenting at ASCCC events, and other duties as assigned by the president and executive director.

ASCCC Committees and System Partner Committees

Board members typically chair ASCCC committees and participate on system partner committees. ASCCC committees perform much of the work of the organization and involve faculty volunteers from across the state. One of main tasks of these committees is to address resolutions adopted by the plenary delegates that fall into each committee’s purview. Original ideas and directions also develop organically within each committee. The dual nature of being a board member and chair of a committee is often nuanced and sometimes challenging. Chairs often serve as advocates for their committees, including at board meetings where action is taken to approve events, development of resources, and other ideas from committees. As board members, chairs have fiduciary duties of care, inquiry, and loyalty to the ASCCC as a whole, which may sometimes be in conflict with the will of the committees they chair.

Board members may also serve on committees of system partners, many of which work through the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO). For example, the California Community Colleges Curriculum Committee (5C) is facilitated by the CCCCO and co-chaired by a faculty member appointed by the ASCCC and a chief instructional officer appointed by the California Community Colleges Chief Instructional Officers. Curriculum is certainly in the purview of the ASCCC, and thus 5C includes significant faculty representation. Board members may also serve on external committees comprised of representatives from many constituent groups. Ultimately, the loyalty of ASCCC board members is to the organization, its mission, and its purpose.

Embracing Organizational Change

The Strategic Direction of “embracing organizational change” encourages the board of directors to “reimagine ASCCC structures to support the mission.” Critically examining foundational elements of the ASCCC, including the executive committee, and questioning structures, procedures, and practices are steps to reimagining the organization. The recent request to consider the addition of a designated part-time faculty member to the executive committee, as well as the ongoing efforts to examine and question existing structures demonstrate the organization's dedication to continuous improvement.

This work is just the beginning. The call to "reimagine ASCCC structures" extends beyond the ASCCC, and is in fact an invitation for the entire California community college system to examine current practices and find inclusive approaches to change, seeking collaboration and diverse perspectives to better serve faculty and students. By encouraging thoughts and ideas from the broader community to strengthen and change the ASCCC, the organization is fostering a collective effort to advance inclusion, diversity, equity, anti-racism, and accessibility. Local academic senates and individual faculty statewide are invited to send thoughts and ideas to info [at] asccc.org (info[at]asccc[dot]org) to suggest ways that the executive committee can better serve and uplift both faculty and students and support all aspects of the ASCCC mission in order to fulfill the ASCCC vision statement of “Faculty leading change, serving students, and advancing inclusion, diversity, equity, anti-racism, and accessibility.” [4]

1. The ASCCC Strategic Plan Directions

2. ASCCC Adopted Resolutions

3. All ASCCC Executive Committee policies

4. The ASCCC Mission and Vision Statements

Data Tales: Cal-GETC

ASCCC Area C Representative, ASCCC Data and Research Committee Chair
ASCCC Past President, ASCCC Intersegmental Projects Director

Recent legislation—such as AB 927 (Medina, 2021), AB 928 (Berman, 2021), AB 1111 (Berman, 2021), and AB 1705 (Irwin, 2022)—aimed at improving student outcomes is affecting curricular offerings and significantly impacting the California community colleges. In particular, Assembly Bill 928 (Berman, 2021), the Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act of 2021 now enacted as Education Code §66749.8, requires a singular lower division general education pathway for students transferring to the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems. Analysis and use of data has impacted the creation of the pathway, and data may be used to anticipate the changes resulting from its implementation.

Tale Background and Basics

The Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act leveraged the already existing Intersegmental Committee of the Academic Senates (ICAS) as well as establishing the new Associate Degree for Transfer Intersegmental Implementation Committee to implement the requirements of the law. ICAS was charged with developing a singular general education pathway that would meet the lower division academic requirements necessary for transfer admission to both the CSU and the UC. Furthermore, the new pathway was limited to no more units than the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum as it existed in July 2021. Agreement was reached after significant discussion, advocacy, vetting, and compromise among and within the three systems’ academic senates, with the pathway named the California General Education Transfer Curriculum (Cal-GETC) by the student representatives and supported by the student organizations in all three systems. Details of the Cal-GETC pathway are available in the Cal-GETC Standards 1.1 document (ICAS, 2023), and the processes for development in 2022 and 2023 are documented on the ICAS website (ICAS, n.d.).  As was required by AB 928, Cal-GETC shall be the only lower division general education pathway for determining transfer eligibility commencing with the fall term of the 2025-26 academic year. More information is available in Education Code §66749.8 (Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act, 2021), including additional requirements beyond the single Cal-GETC pathway, and in the Associate Degree for Transfer Intersegmental Implementation Committee 2023 Final Report and Recommendations (Sova, 2023).

Present Data Tales

Historically, students choosing to earn an associate degree for transfer had an option of two general education patterns: the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) or the CSU General Education Breadth (CSU GE Breadth) pattern. IGETC is a general education pattern that students followed to fulfill transfer requirements to a UC campus, whereas the CSU GE Breadth pattern is what students followed for transfer to a CSU campus. The CSU GE Breadth pattern includes many courses that do not fulfill IGETC requirements, and thus many of those courses may not fulfill the new Cal-GETC requirements.  

The main differences of Cal-GETC compared to IGETC or CSU GE Breadth are as follows:

  • Oral Communication Area is included but was not included in IGETC; adjustments to community college courses will be required;
  • Arts and Humanities Area is reduced from three courses to two courses;
  • Behavioral and Social Sciences Area is reduced from three courses to two courses;
  • Lifelong Learning and Self-Development Area, previously not in IGETC but included in CSU GE Breadth, is not included;
  • Ethnic Studies Area is included.

Due to these differences, course offerings will be impacted. Some questions for colleges to consider as implementation of Cal-GETC begins include the following:

  • What courses are approved for CSU GE Breadth but are not approved for IGETC? Most courses approved for IGETC may be approved for Cal-GETC, but no guarantee exists for any specific course.
  • What are the enrollments in those courses? This question is critical to anticipate the impact to students as well as the impact on curricular programs, including staffing changes.
  • Who is enrolling in those courses and from what majors? Colleges may need to disaggregate student populations for analysis.
  • How will the changes impact students? This question will require a deep data dive so that student outcomes are improved even if some course options are no longer available.
  • What are the numbers and proportions of students that choose IGETC versus CSU GE Breath? This data point will assist faculty and staff to develop other pathways where needed for those programs that may be heavily impacted.

A Tale of Two Colleges

During a discussion at the California Intersegmental Articulation Council Conference in 2023 concerning potential impacts from AB 928 to students and colleges and how one may anticipate coming shifts and changes, articulation officers were asked by the president of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges to provide basic information on enrollments in courses that are approved for CSU GE Breadth but not for IGETC. Roughly half a dozen colleges responded; two comparative examples are summarized below, one large urban college and one small rural college.

Sample enrollments for two terms of courses that meet CSU GE Breadth but not IGETC for the large urban college are reflected in Table 1. This college has 89 courses that meet CSU GE Breadth but not IGETC; this figure does not include the large number of offerings in fitness and physical education. Total enrollments in all courses that meet CSU GE Breadth but not IGETC are 9,294 for fall 2022 and 10,083 for spring 2023.

Table 1: Large Urban College—Courses that Meet CSU GE Breadth but Not IGETC
Course Fall 2022 Enrollment Spring 2023 Enrollment
All Fitness/PE 3756 5549
Studio Art 377 199
Freshman Seminar 1396 180
Introduction to Philosophy 467 455
Spanish I 228 332
College Success 561 602

Sample average semester enrollments of courses approved for CSU GE Breadth but not IGETC for the small rural college are shown in Table 2. In addition, this college offers fifteen courses with 4,012 enrollments in lifelong learning and self-development. Disciplines offering courses to fulfill this area include health, psychology, business, and sociology, with health having by far the largest enrollment in this category. None of these lifelong learning and self-development courses are required for degree or major pathways. 

Table 2: Small Rural College—Courses that Meet CSU GE Breadth but Not IGETC
Course Average Sections Average Semester Enrollments
Child, Family, and Community 6 147
Criminology 2 67
History - African American 1 34

Cal-GETC most likely will significantly impact enrollments in certain disciplines and areas. This impact may mean reduced enrollments in departments or divisions that currently have large numbers of course sections, yet it might only be a few course sections scattered across several departments or divisions. While these data sets are not enough to conclude the final impact, they do support the need for colleges to collect and begin analysis on changes to course offerings due to changes in general education requirements.

A Tale of Two Courses

Oral communication was part of the CSU GE Breadth requirements, but was not a requirement of IGETC. After much discussion and debate, oral communication was included in Cal-GETC. The proposed Cal-GETC at the time was vetted by the three systems through their respective academic senates. The Assembly of the UC Academic Senate approved UC Senate Regulation 479 at its December 8, 2022 meeting and adopted Cal-GETC with an unexpected addition of an English composition prerequisite for oral communication. While oral communication faculty appreciated that the UC Academic Senate recognized and agreed with the value that oral communication provided for students, they were also concerned that an unnecessary barrier for students might now be in place.

California community college communication studies faculty took notice and collaborated with institutional research professionals at their colleges to examine data on public speaking—or oral communication—course success for students that took English composition before taking public speaking and those that did not in an effort to determine whether a prerequisite was warranted. Five colleges provided similar data over a five-year time frame and discovered a 5 to 22 percentage point increase in student success in public speaking when students took English composition before public speaking as well as a 5 to 17 percentage point increase in success rate for English composition when students took public speaking before English composition. No matter which order students took public speaking and English composition, the data showed comparable improvement in success rate for the second course. This simple data analysis was enough evidence for the UC to remove the English composition prerequisite for oral communication courses.

Future Data Tales

The examples above demonstrate how data may be used to facilitate conversations regarding the impacts of Cal-GETC. Faculty should collaborate with local institutional research professionals and leverage data to anticipate possible impacts, with enrollments being just one example. Exploring data regarding the effects of changes will provide insight into which courses will meet Cal-GETC requirements, possible shifts in enrollments and associated workload balancing and planning for departments and divisions, and planning outreach needed to students. Colleges should examine as much data as possible and not draw any conclusions until analyses has taken place. In addition, colleges must also be cognizant of the many variables that can contribute to student outcomes.


Intersegmental Committee of Academic Senates. (2023). Cal-GETC Standards Version 1.1.

Intersegmental Committee of Academic Senates. (n.d.). Memos and Letters.

Sova. (2023, December). AB928 Associate Degree for Transfer Intersegmental Implementation Committee 2023 Final Report and Recommendations. California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.

Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act of 2021. CA. Education Code §66749.8 (2021).

The Abuse of Power: California Community College Boards of Trustees and Hiring and Selection Processes

ASCCC North Representative
ASCCC South Representative
ASCCC Treasurer

California's community colleges provide accessible, affordable, and high-quality education to a diverse student population. According to the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office (CCCCO, n.d.), “over 69 percent of California Community College students are people of diverse ethnic backgrounds.” To maintain appropriately high standards, colleges must have the autonomy to make hiring and selection decisions based on merit, qualifications, and the needs of their communities. Boards of trustees should recognize their roles in furthering a climate of collaboration rather than unilaterally undermining their own policies and practices. Unfortunately, in some cases boards of trustees were accused of not adhering to their own locally established hiring and selection processes, thus eroding the integrity of those processes and of participatory governance at their colleges.

The Role of Community College Boards of Trustees

California's community college boards of trustees are responsible for governing individual community college districts within the system. California Education Code §70902 indicates board duties to include setting policies, overseeing budgets, and ensuring that the colleges fulfill their educational mission. According to the Trustee Handbook of the Community College League of California, “Community college boards ensure the wise and prudent delivery of education, a critical local and state resource, on behalf of the people in their communities,”  and boards of trustees “have the responsibility to be both ethical and legal,” adhering to qualities of “trustworthiness…integrity… and reliability” (Smith, J., 2019). In addition, Education Code §70902 indicates that boards of trustees “Employ and assign all personnel not inconsistent with the minimum standards adopted by the board of governors and establish employment practices, salaries, and benefits for all employees not inconsistent with the laws of this state.”

The primary focus of boards of trustees is oversight, and thus they are not typically involved in the day-to-day operations of their colleges. While Education Code establishes a wide decision-making role for boards of trustees, California Code of Regulations Title 5 typically provides specific and clear delineation that narrows the scope of the board’s role in certain local decision-making processes. One example is the local district or college hiring and selection process. According to Title 5 §53024 (f), “Governing boards or their designees shall have the authority to make all final hiring decisions based upon careful review of the candidate or candidates recommended by a screening committee. The governing board may reject all candidates and order further review by the screening committee, or reopen the position where necessary to further achievement of the objectives of the EEO plan or to ensure equal employment opportunity. However, a consistent pattern of declining to hire qualified candidates from monitored groups against the recommendation of screening committees may give rise to an inference that the selections are not consistent with the objectives of equal employment opportunity that are required by this subchapter” (emphasis added). Therefore, if the governing board suspects that a hiring committee’s recommendations are flawed in some way, the board should reject the search and may direct the hiring and selection committee to resume deliberation. Title 5 does not suggest that the board may select and hire any candidate that was not recommended through the local hiring and selection process.

The Importance of Local Autonomy and Participatory Governance

Local autonomy is a fundamental principle of California's community college system. Individual colleges are better positioned to make decisions about hiring and selection based on their unique needs and circumstances. Local autonomy allows colleges to adapt to the specific requirements of their communities, fostering diversity and innovation within the system.
The Trustee Handbook recognizes that

Shared decision-making promotes trust, cooperation, a team identity, and coordination of efforts…Participation in decision-making reflects a broad-based movement in organizations to involve people at various levels. It reflects a movement from autocratic, hierarchical structures to those in which decisions, responsibility, and accountability are distributed at all levels of the organizations. (Smith, J., 2019)

Likewise, the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) Local Senate Handbook (ASCCC, 2020) describes the value of participatory governance as follows:

The basis of the governance system in the California Community Colleges emanates from a fundamental belief in the importance of participatory decision-making. Education Code §70902(b)(7) directs local Boards of Trustees to “Establish procedures that are consistent with minimum standards established by the board of governors to ensure faculty, staff, and students the opportunity to express their opinions at the campus level, to ensure that these opinions are given every reasonable consideration, to ensure the right to participate effectively in district and college governance….” The most critical words in this passage are “participate effectively”: all college constituencies have a right under Education Code to have their voices heard and their positions given fair consideration before a local board acts on an issue.

Thus, the leadership bodies of trustees, administration, and faculty at the state level all emphasize the importance of participatory decision making based on the needs of the local community.

Failures to Respect Local Processes

In recent years, accusations have arisen that some local boards of trustees have failed to properly respect the hiring and selection processes of  their local colleges. These failures to follow established processes can take various forms, including the following:

  • Nepotism: Boards may engage in favoring friends, family members, or political allies in hiring decisions, regardless of the candidate’s qualifications or suitability for the position.
  • Political Interference: Boards may exert political pressure on colleges to hire individuals with specific political affiliations, thereby compromising the merit-based selection process.
  • Personal Agendas: Board members may use their positions to promote their personal agendas, influencing hiring decisions to further their own interests.
  • Violation of Local Autonomy: Boards may overstep their appropriate governance role by making hiring and selection decisions that should be the responsibility of local college administrators and hiring committees.

Transgressions such as these can erode the principles of meritocracy, equity, and local autonomy, thus undermining the credibility and integrity of the community college system.

The Impact on College Hiring

Failures by boards of trustees to respect local processes can have far-reaching consequences for the processes and for the integrity of participatory governance. Some key impacts can include the following:

  • Erosion of Meritocracy: Hiring based on qualifications, experience, and merit is essential for maintaining the quality of education. Decisions based on factors other than merit compromise the ability of colleges to hire the most qualified candidates, which ultimately harms the educational experience of students.
  • Undermining Trust: Trustee transgressions can erode transparency and trust in the hiring process. Students, faculty, and staff serving on selection committees, as well as the broader college community, may lose confidence in the fairness of selection procedures, leading to a sense of disillusionment and apathy. Boards of trustees can thus lose credibility.
  • Weakening Local Autonomy and Participatory Governance: By failing to respect hiring processes, boards of trustees undermine the principle of local autonomy, impeding the ability of colleges to respond effectively to the unique needs of their communities. Such situations can hinder innovation and responsiveness.
  • Reduction in Diversity and Inclusion: When hiring practices are influenced by personal agendas, nepotism, or political interference, decisions can result in a less diverse and inclusive workforce. Such actions undermine the community college system's commitment to serving a broad spectrum of students, especially students of color.
  • Legal and Ethical Implications: Failure to respect hiring processes may potentially lead to lawsuits, investigations, and damage to the reputation of the institution.

Instances of Trustee Transgressions

A few notable examples of transgressions by local boards of trustees regarding hiring and selection processes have occurred in recent years. These examples are offered here not to condemn individual boards but to demonstrate the potential impacts of such actions.

In 2013, City College of San Francisco faced the threat of losing its accreditation due to a variety of issues, including governance and financial mismanagement. The accrediting body's report highlighted concerns about the board of trustees' interference in operational matters, including hiring and personnel decisions. As a result, the California Community Colleges Board of Governors had to intervene and appoint a special trustee to help address the issues (Baron, 2012). While the college was able to retain its accreditation, the episode highlighted the significant impact that the trustees’ misconduct can have on the stability and reputation of a college.

In 2021, the Peralta Community College District Board of Trustees was criticized by an Alameda County grand jury for “infighting, unhealthy governance and ineffective leadership,” including “multiple instances between 2018 and 2020 of board members interfering in chancellors’ recommended appointments or hiring of employees to the point that they compromised a ‘fair and independent hiring process’” (Smith, A., 2021).

In 2023, a Los Angeles Southwest College presidential hiring and selection committee, following the codified hiring and selection process for a permanent college president, submitted a list of candidates to the district chancellor for board approval. The board of trustees rejected the candidates recommended by the hiring and selection committee and, rather than reopening the search, appointed the current interim president, who was not one of the candidates recommended by the hiring and selection committee (Bell, 2023). This appointment led to wide-ranging impacts for the college, including undermining trust in and weakening all governance processes as well as preventing the Los Angeles Community College District from addressing a monitored group EEO gap relating to the diversity and equity of its multiple permanent college presidents.

In the Los Angeles Southwest College case, one trustee posited that employees of the college who did not live in the community of the college should not be able to make decisions on what happens in that community (Bell, 2023). However, California Education Code §87428 states, “No community college district may adopt or maintain any rule or regulation which requires a candidate for an academic position to be a resident of the district or to become a resident of the district, or which requires that an employee maintain residency within the district; nor may a district grant any preferential treatment to candidates or employees because they are residents of the district.” The LACCD has no district policy that requires residency, and thus the trustee’s statement is clearly an improper rationale for rejecting the recommendations of the hiring and selection committee, let alone appointing a candidate that was not recommended through the established local process.

Promoting Transparency and Accountability

To address potential failures to respect processes by boards of trustees, districts need to emphasize transparency and accountability in their hiring and selection processes. Some possible steps include the following:

  • Clear Hiring Policies: Establish clear and transparent hiring policies that outline the roles and responsibilities of hiring committees, administrators, and the board of trustees.
  • Involvement of Stakeholders: Engage all relevant stakeholders, such as faculty, staff, and students, in the hiring process to ensure transparency and accountability.
  • Training and Education: Provide training on the importance of merit-based hiring and the legal and ethical considerations involved for board members as well as all campus leadership.
  • Failed Search Transparency: Inform the college community when a search fails, offering an explanation of the reasons for the failure.
  • Protecting Whistleblowers: Establish whistleblower protections to encourage individuals to come forward with information about process irregularities.

In addition, the state, in collaboration with local colleges, may consider establishing oversight mechanisms to review and investigate instances of irregularities in hiring processes.

Moving Forward for Academic Senates

Transgressions by boards of trustees in college hiring and selection processes are a challenge that threatens the principles of local autonomy, transparency, equity, and meritocracy. Some ways that local academic senates can proactively work with governing boards to maintain productive participatory governance and regular communication are as follows:

  • Present regular reports at board meetings, invite board members to visit local academic senate meetings, and present participatory governance goals at board retreats and trainings.
  • Understand the roles, responsibilities, and rights of governing boards and local academic senates. Senates should be familiar with their local board policies, Title 5, and Education Code and educate the entire campus. [1]
  • Partner with the college and district administration and the board of trustees to request a Collegiality in Action training visit from the ASCCC and the Community College League of California.
  • Along with college administration, explore ways to encourage and incentivize local student government and student trustees to attend trainings on participatory governance so that the students stay informed and involved.

Ultimately, the focus must remain on the best interests of  students and the community each college serves. An environment where hiring decisions are based on effective participatory governance, merit, and the unique needs of each institution is crucial to ensuring that California's community colleges continue to provide the quality education that students deserve while developing a workplace that upholds and respects its own policies and procedures.


Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. (2020). Local Senates Handbook.

Baron, K. (2012, Oct.5). San Francisco City College to Get Special Trustee. EdSource.

Bell, G. (2023, Aug.28). Controversy Shrouds Hiring of Dr. Anthony Culpepper as Southwest College President. L. A. Focus on the Word.

California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. (n.d.). Key Facts.

Smith, A. (2021, June 22). Civil grand jury blasts Bay Area community college district board. EdSource.

Smith, J. C. (2019). Trustee Handbook. Community College League of California.

1. Some useful documents for understanding the roles of all college constituencies are “Participating Efrectively in District and College Governance” and “Scenarios to Illustrate Effective Participation in District and College Governance”, both of which are joint publications of the ASCCC and the Community College League of California, and the ASCCC’s “When the Board of Trustees Says “NO!” To Recommendations of the Senate”.

Working Together: The ASCCC and CTE Regional Consortiums

ASCCC Area A Representative

Eight career technical education (CTE) regional consortia exist across California, serving “as a regional framework for communicating, coordinating, collaborating, promoting and planning career and technical education, and workforce and economic development initiatives” (Orange County Regional Consortium, n.d.). Although each of the California community colleges is aligned to a CTE regional consortium, many faculty are not familiar with or involved in the consortia’s work or goals. In an effort to expand faculty connection to the regional consortia, the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) passed Resolution 21.01 in Spring 2021, stating that the ASCCC would

collaborate with the regional consortia and the state and regional directors to empower and engage regional faculty leaders by working with the faculty leaders on regional boards, providing professional learning for career technical education faculty, sharing and developing new and emerging curriculum, and discussing how to streamline curriculum processes to move at the speed of industry and business so that students can be prepared for the jobs of tomorrow. [1]

To address this resolution, the ASCCC is partnering with each of the eight regional consortia to hold customized professional development days in order to provide regionally specific conversations between faculty and the regional coordinators.

CTE Regional Consortia

California is a large and diverse state. Community college curriculum aims to meet the workforce needs of local communities. Although many industries are statewide, each region has its own specialties.

The CTE regional consortia were designed to provide opportunities for each region to do the following:

  • Facilitate CTE program investments;
  • Create opportunities for community college, K-12, and adult education collaboration with a focus on high-wage job creation;
  • Engage and connect colleges with industry partners with a goal of meeting the regional workforce needs;
  • Advocate for career education policy and funding (Bay Area Community College Consortium, n.d.).

All of these goals require faculty input and participation as part of the local academic senate’s role in academic and professional matters.

The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO) has divided up California into eight regions, including

  • Bay Area
  • Central Valley/Mother Lode
  • Inland Empire/Desert
  • Los Angeles
  • North Far North
  • Orange County
  • San Diego/Imperial
  • South Central Coast

Historically, college collaboration with the consortia has been done through CTE deans or upper-level administrators. Rarely do faculty participate in liaising with the consortia, but an opportunity exists to have more faculty involvement. Each of the regional coordinators or directors has been open with the ASCCC about wanting more faculty involvement.

Each regional consortium has regional goals and a Strong Workforce plan. Each consortium has its own budget and solicits for collaborative proposals to support regional workforce needs. The consortium goals align to the CCCCO Vision 2030 goals of increasing equitable student access, success, and support, including the specific workforce outcome of “increasing with equity the number of California community college students who earn a living wage” (CCCCO, 2023). Faculty and the regional consortia have the opportunity to work more closely together to support this goal.

Regional Consortia and Curriculum

Many faculty are most familiar with the regional consortia in their role of reviewing CTE program development. “Proposals for credit CTE programs must include a recommendation from the appropriate CTE Regional Consortium as per title 5, section 55130(b)(8)E” (RegionalCTE , n.d.). This statement does not mean that the regional consortium can restrict curriculum development at an individual campus. The consortia are responsible for reviewing the courses in two contexts. The first and primary context is to determine the need for the proposed program in relationship with those offered at other community colleges in the area; in other words, the consortium will have a regional view of what all colleges in the region offer. The second purpose is to assure program originators that the proposed curriculum is aligned with current good practices as determined by professional experts. Faculty are encouraged to work with their regional coordinators in advance of submission of programs for review. Ongoing dialog and collaboration are essential for curriculum review. Colleges can still submit programs to the CCCCO without approval of the local regional consortium, but collaboration can lead to additional regional support with educational partners and employer and budgetary support for new and revised programs.

The ASCCC and Regional Consortium Collaboration

In an effort to address Resolution 21.01 SP 21 to expand the faculty role with CTE regional consortia, the ASCCC is making an intentional effort to work directly with the regional consortia. In 2023-24, the ASCCC has committed to hosting eight CTE regional events, one in each of the CTE regions. These events are designed to be co-hosted with each of the CTE regional consortia and focus on the specific CTE needs of that region.

Each one of these events is tailored to the professional development needs of the area and highlights the CTE work in that area. In Orange County, one of the focus areas was competency based education (CBE). The event highlighted the work being done at Coastline College with the CBE pilot. The South Central Coast Region highlighted the LEAP Program and work experience.  The Inland Empire/Desert Region highlighted the credit for prior learning work at Norco College. Other topics shared at multiple events included the CTE role in Vision 2030, CTE minimum qualifications, dual enrollment, CTE faculty engagement, and the role of faculty in working with regional consortia.  Although these events are marketed to faculty, everyone—including classified staff, students, and administrators—is invited to attend. Two events were held in the fall of 2023, and six are scheduled for Spring 2024. Information on the location of events and registration is available on the ASCCC website at asccc.org. These events are just the beginning of the collaboration. The ASCCC, and specifically the ASCCC CTE Leadership Committee, will continue to collaborate to support faculty professional development related to academic and professional matters and the regional consortia.

Working with the Regional Consortium

Faculty should coordinate and collaborate with their local CTE regional consortium. Both CTE faculty and local senate leaders can be active in CTE regional work. The following suggestions may help to facilitate that involvement:

  1. Find out to what consortium your college is aligned, review its website, and attend meetings and professional development opportunities;
  2. Find out who on your campus is the local lead to your local regional consortium;
  3. Attend your local ASCCC CTE regional event;
  4. Learn more about K-12 and adult education partnerships available through the consortium;
  5. Share stories and college highlights with your regional consortium;
  6. Collaborate with your regional consortium on grant and Strong Workforce applications;
  7. Support discussions across colleges and the region with faculty in role-alike or program-alike conversations;
  8. Work with your regional consortium at gathering and assessing CTE and labor market data;
  9. Invite the regional consortium to come to your local academic senate and share what it is working on;
  10. Invite the regional consortium to local curriculum committee meetings to discuss collaboration for curriculum and trends;
  11. Attend California Community College Association for Occupational Education conferences and other CTE events to interact with CTE regional coordinators and staff.

CTE regional consortia are eager to engage more with faculty to support shared goals of student access, support, and completion as well as meeting the labor market needs of each of the eight regions in California.


Bay Area Community College Consortium. (n.d.). Who We Are.

California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. (2023) Vision 2030.

Orange County Regional Consortium. (n.d.). Orange County Regional Consortium.

RegionalCTE. (n.d.). California Regional Consortia CTE Program Recommendation.

1. ASCCC Adopted Resolutions

Access to ASCCC Professional Learning Events

ASCCC President
ASCCC Executive Director

Developing and delivering professional learning opportunities for faculty is an on-going effort of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC). Professional development and learning is embedded in the mission of the organization (ASCCC, n.d.a):

As the official voice of California community college faculty in academic and professional matters, the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) is committed to advancing inclusion, diversity, equity, anti-racism, accessibility, student learning, and student success. The ASCCC acts to:

  • Empower faculty to engage in local and statewide dialogue and take action for continued improvement of teaching, learning, and faculty participation in governance.
  • Lead and advocate proactively for the development of policies, processes, and practices.
  • Include diverse faculty, perspectives, and experiences that represent our student populations.
  • Develop faculty as local and statewide leaders through personal and professional development.
  • Engage faculty and system partners through collegial consultation.

This emphasis on professional development for faculty is also present in the ASCCC’s 2023-2026 Strategic Directions (ASCCC, n.d.b ), most notably in the third direction: Developing Innovative Activities to Empower Faculty and Uplift Underrepresented Voices.

The ASCCC aims to develop faculty in many ways, particularly within academic and professional matters, teaching, learning, and governance. In some instances, committees develop resources to assist in the dissemination of information relevant to local efforts. These resources include Academic Senate papers [1], which can serve to inform and to advocate for effective practices. They also include toolkits and handbooks, including the Local Senates Handbook [2], the CTE Faculty MQ Toolkit [3], the Mentoring Handbook [4], Model Hiring Principles and Practices modules [5], the ASCCC Online Handbook for Guided Pathways [6], the Cultural Humility Toolkit [7], Teaching in CDCR: Equity in Curriculum Resource Guide [8], and others.

In addition to developing resources, the ASCCC hosts professional development events, including webinars, online events, institutes, and plenaries. Webinars—which are short, focused professional development opportunities intended to share information or engage attendees on a topic of interest—are coordinated by ASCCC committees and offered throughout the academic year. Online events were used more during the COVID-19 Pandemic but are being included in the ASCCC’s format for events because they are low- to no-cost for attendees and can provide broad access to faculty and other stakeholders throughout the California community colleges without the time and expense of travel. For example, in August 2023, the ASCCC Open Education Resources Initiative, in collaboration with CSU Affordable Learning Solutions, LibreTexts, and the Michelson 20MM Foundation, held Cal OER, a three-day online event focused on open education resources and textbook affordability. In September 2023, the ASCCC Accreditation Institute was held as an online event, and in October 2023, area meetings meant to prepare attendees for Fall Plenary Session were held as online events.

ASCCC institutes and plenaries are its most well-known professional development events. The ASCCC coordinates and hosts four core annual conference-type events: the Curriculum Institute, the Faculty Leadership Institute, and the Fall and Spring Plenary Sessions. Across these four conferences, more than 1,200 attendees engage together and with the ASCCC to learn about statewide and Academic Senate initiatives and to share effective practices in leadership, governance, curriculum, and teaching and learning.

Thinking Creatively: ASCCC Professional Learning During COVID and Beyond

In response to the challenges posed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the ASCCC completely altered the way in which professional learning events were delivered, based on thoughtful considerations made by the executive committee. Recognizing the continuing need for professional development and dissemination of information during the pandemic, the ASCCC shifted delivery of its four core events to be fully online from the Faculty Leadership Institute in June 2020 through the Curriculum Institute in July 2021. For these events, registration fees were reduced given that costs incurred were less than traditional in-person events. The result was a substantial increase in attendance for each event compared to traditional in-person formats.

As in-person meetings once again became possible in Fall 2021, the ASCCC shifted its four core events to a hybrid/hyflex format, giving the option of in-person attendance to interested attendees while retaining a full program online. Consistent with this approach and with awareness that the total number of registrations increased when a remote option was available, Resolution 1.05 in Fall 2021 directed “That the ASCCC should make remote attendance an option at all ASCCC-organized events, including plenary sessions.” [9] During the 2021-2022 academic year, the four core ASCCC events were held in this dual format, with all conference content available online and in person.

However, the dual format came with challenges, notably a nearly doubled conference cost, as highlighted in the graphic below regarding the Spring 2022 Plenary Session.

SS Fee Structure

To address concerns from attendees and presenters and in response to feedback received, the executive committee explored alternatives to the costly dual format, considering both fiscal responsibility and the effectiveness of sessions. This discussion was also in response to concerns from attendees and presenters, also reflected in post-event surveys, that presenting and engaging attendees in dual formats simultaneously was challenging—as faculty who teach in a hyflex-type modality are well aware—at times impacting the effectiveness of sessions.

In line with the identified priorities of access, engagement, and impact established at the December 2021 Executive Committee Meeting, the ASCCC board continued discussions on event formats, aiming to strike a balance between maintaining accessibility and managing costs. For the Curriculum Institute of 2022, a dual format was recommended and deployed, providing full online and in-person access to general sessions and offering a split between in-person and fully online breakout session options. This approach significantly reduced audio-visual and internet expenses. By managing costs with this approach and being strategic with the sessions offered online, the ASCCC could continue offering some form of remote attendance.

Other adjustments have been made to support online attendee access and engagement and, ultimately, the impact of ASCCC remote events while also managing costs and attendee registration fees. These considerations included utilizing Zoom Events as the online platform instead of Pathable, which costs roughly $12,000 to $15,000 per event as compared to a one-time annual fee of roughly $8,000 for Zoom. The ASCCC has also considered one-way streaming rather than two-way interactivity but has not pursued the transition due to online engagement being significantly reduced with one-way streaming. To that end, the purpose of each of the four core events is being considered to ensure that the purpose of the event can be optimized with the dual deliveries. The executive committee is currently reassessing the Faculty Leadership Institute to determine whether its emphasis on peer networking and sharing effective leadership practices necessitates in-person attendance, potentially leading to the discontinuation of virtual attendance options.

As the need for fully remote events fades further into the background and other stakeholder organizations return to fully in-person conferences, the ASCCC continues with its intention to maintain online attendance options for its four core events. This intention is not just due to the position of Resolution 1.05 F21 but also to the goal of the executive committee to utilize online formats to increase access, engagement, and impact for faculty throughout the state. For other events, like regional meetings and one-day institutes, the ASCCC will weigh the purpose of each event, the feasibility of offering remote attendance—to include potential costs as well as feasibility of campus event spaces—and overall accessibility of the event and information to faculty attendees.

To assist the executive committee in these continued conversations and decisions, faculty leaders are asked to complete event modality surveys when requested, as in Fall 2023, and to disseminate the surveys broadly to their faculty members. The information generated through the surveys helps the ASCCC to better understand the professional development and event attendance interests of the faculty it serves.


Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. (n.d.a). Mission and Vision.

Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. (n.d.b). Strategic Plan Directions.

1. All ASCCC papers.
2. The ASCCC Local Senates Handbook.
3. The Career Technical Education Faculty Minimum Qualifications Toolkit.
4. The ASCCC Mentoring Handbook.
5. Model Hiring Principles and Practices.
6. The ASCCC Online Handbook for Guided Pathways.
7. The Cultural Humility Toolkit.
8 .Teaching in CDCR: Equity in Curriculum Resource Guide.
9. ASCCC Adopted Resolutions.

Are Academic Senates Brown Act Bodies? The Case that Settled the Question

Former ASCCC President 2014-2016

In recent months, the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges has received inquiries and has been made aware of several situations in which entities at local colleges have questioned whether the academic senate is bound to operate under the Ralph M. Brown Open Meetings Act. This question was a matter of frequent debate up until roughly twenty years ago, when the court case of Callahan vs. Academic Senate of Long Beach City College gave a legal determination on the issue. Because so much time has passed since this court decision, and due to the questions that have recently re-emerged on campuses, a reminder of the events that took place and the court’s decision may be useful to local senates. [1]

The Background: Accusations of Brown Act Violations

The problems at Long Beach City College (LBCC) began with conflicts between the faculty—both academic senate and faculty union—and the college’s vice president of academic affairs, Mary Callahan. Callahan was a long-time member of the LBCC community, having served as a nursing faculty member, department chair, and dean prior to becoming vice president. Faculty complaints regarding Callahan involved lack of consultation in scheduling and reorganization of academic departments as well as other failures to work with the academic senate regarding academic and professional matters and various contract violations.

In the spring of 2003, after having worked with Callahan for over a year in attempts to resolve these issues, the academic senate began a process of considering a vote of no confidence. Because several of the senators did not wish to inflict unnecessary embarrassment on Callahan through public discussion of the issues, as she had past connections to many faculty members through her years at the college, the academic senate held several closed-session meetings to establish its process and to debate the merits of a possible no confidence vote. The senate’s rationale behind the closed sessions was that the Brown Act allows closed sessions in order to consider personnel evaluation issues, and, because the senate participated in the evaluation of the vice president, the senate had a formal personnel interest in her evaluation. Thus, while the question of whether academic senates fell under the Brown Act was still debatable, the LBCC academic senate felt that even if it were bound by the Brown Act, a closed session would be justified.

Over the summer of 2003, the academic senate and the faculty union at LBCC developed a document of approximately thirteen pages delineating in detail the various violations of both consultation and contract committed by Callahan and circulated that document to all faculty at the college. In the fall of 2003, the LBCC faculty union passed a no confidence vote in Callahan. Then, on September 19, 2003, the academic senate considered its own vote of no confidence.

The senate meeting was a fiasco. The entire LBCC Administrators Association attended to support Callahan, arriving in force as a group several minutes after the meeting was called to order. Several non-senator faculty members also attended and spoke in favor of the vote. As the senate moved toward the taking of the vote, attorneys for Callahan and the district, as well as the college’s vice-president of human resources, began to shout over Academic Senate President Janice Tomson, insisting that they be heard in spite of the fact that they had arrived late and had not filled out the cards required for guest speakers, and they refused to allow the meeting to proceed. As the disruptions continued, the senate members adjourned as a group to a separate room in recess, hoping that a break could relieve the tension. However, the interruptions and shouting began again when the senators returned to the meeting room, and ultimately the police were called to remove Callahan’s attorney. After a stressful period of open debate among the senators themselves, the vote of no confidence was taken by secret, written ballot. The final vote was twenty-seven in favor, four against, and one abstention.

Roughly two months later, in November 2003, Callahan filed a lawsuit against the academic senate, accusing the senate of Brown Act violations for both the closed sessions and the secret ballot taken for the vote of no confidence. The suit named President Janice Tomson and included all other senators as John Does. It sought both injunctive relief to prevent the academic senate from repeating actions that, according to Callahan, were in violation of the Brown Act as well as declaratory relief to force the rescinding of the no confidence vote.  Ultimately, Callahan also requested $68,967 for attorney fees with a 1.5 times multiplier for a total of $103,450.50, claiming that the multiplier was justified because the suit had benefited the public.

The LBCC Academic Senate was represented without cost in the suit by Wendy Gabriella, a practicing attorney but also a member of the faculty at Irvine Valley College. At Gabriella’s urging, the senate convened on March 24, 2004 to correct its previous action. Once again, multiple members of the LBCC administration were present, including Callahan herself. In open session, the senate voted to formally rescind the previous vote of no confidence that was taken by secret ballot in September and then voted on another no confidence motion against Callahan by show of hands. Interestingly, while in September four senators voted against the no confidence motion and one abstained, the second vote passed with only one senator in opposition.

The Court’s Decision

Because of the action of March 24 to rescind and re-take the vote in open session, the court dismissed the declaratory portion of Callahan’s lawsuit, noting that the violation was cured by that action. The court also removed President Tomson’s name from the suit, dismissing Callahan’s claim of individual misconduct as improper in a Brown Act suit.

However, the court did grant a permanent injunction against the academic senate, ordering that the senate must have an attorney present when going into closed session to discuss anticipated litigation, must not to use the Brown Act’s exception on evaluation of employee performance to go into closed session for the purpose of discussing an administrator of the college, and must provide the required 24-hour notice to any person when discussing specific complaints about that person. The court clarified that a body can only consider a person to be an employee of that body, and thus invoke the Brown Act closed session exception for evaluation, if the body has the power to hire and fire that individual.

Regarding Callahan’s request for attorney fees, the court denied the 1.5 times multiplier and cut the amount of the award in half, to approximately $34,000, noting that the 310 hours billed to Callahan by her attorneys was excessive. Fortunately for the LBCC academic senate, the senate leadership had maintained a positive relationship with the college president throughout this experience. The college president had remained essentially uninvolved and impartial regarding the lawsuit, but when the invoice for the attorney fees arrived, the senate president sought the advice of the college president, noting that the LBCC senate, like most academic senates, had no resources to pay a $34,000 bill. The college president stated simply, “I’ll take care of it,” and the senate was not troubled with the matter again.

The Significance of the Decision

Callahan appealed the court’s decision regarding the dismissal of the declaratory relief and the amount of the monetary award. The court of appeals upheld the trial court’s decision. However, the decision of the appeals court also contained the following language:

Initially, we note that the trial court must have concluded that the Brown Act applied, both in terms of the Academic Senate qualifying as a "legislative body" under section 54952, and the meetings in question falling within the definition of meetings set forth in section 54952.2.

This statement by the appeals court, based on the decision of the trial court, makes very clear that the academic senate was found to be a Brown Act body and subject to all provisions of the Brown Act. In simple terms, the LBCC academic senate was ordered by the court to hold all votes by open ballot and to avoid closed sessions unless it was discussing pending litigation that involved the senate, in which case an attorney must be present.

In the twenty years since the case of Callahan vs. Academic Senate of Long Beach City College took place, the world has changed in many ways, and thus some aspects of the Brown Act were altered either temporarily or permanently. However, the question of whether academic senates are bound by the Brown Act has not been challenged in court since this case, and thus local senates must continue to consider themselves subject to the provisions of the Brown Act.

1. A large portion of the information in this article comes from the author’s own experience, as he was a member of the leadership of the Long Beach City College Academic Senate during this time period and became president of the LBCC Academic Senate in 2006, near the end of the case. Further documentation on the case see the article web page or [PDF].

Rehumanizing Education: Ethnic Studies in the California Community Colleges

ASCCC South Representative
ASCCC North Representative and Transfer, Articulation, and Student Services Committee Chair

On August 17, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1460, which created the California State University (CSU) Ethnic Studies General Education Breadth Requirement, calling on all 23 CSU campuses to require a three-unit ethnic studies course toward graduation (Zinshteyn, 2020). Subsequently, the CSU developed the Area F Ethnic Studies general education area, which adopted the CSU Ethnic Studies Council Ethnic Studies Core Competencies, and in November 2020 the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) passed Resolution 9.03 F20 recommending Title 5 changes to include ethnic studies as a community college graduation requirement. [1] Since fall of 2020, California community colleges have developed, modified, and adopted ethnic studies courses to fit the new Area F Ethnic Studies Competencies. In light of these changes, the ASCCC passed Resolution 09.01 SP21 to develop a set of resources that could assist in establishing ethnic studies programs in alignment with California State University requirements, with the request for access to “a set of resources for local academic senates to assist in establishing ethnic studies based programs.”

Defining Ethnic Studies

Ethnic studies is used as an umbrella term that references the four core autonomous disciplines of African American/Black/Africana studies, Chicana/o (Latina/o) studies, Asian American studies, and Native American/American Indian studies. These four disciplines are the heart of ethnic studies (Velez, Guerrero, & Cheshire, 2023). Integral to the development of new ethnic studies programs and courses is the emphasis on the unique epistemology of each of the ethnic studies core disciplines.

An ethnic studies report from the National Education Association’s Center for Enterprise Strategy, titled “What the Research Says About Ethnic Studies,” reveals that ethnic studies invokes transformational educational development for students in a variety of ways: “students who participate in ethnic studies are more academically engaged, develop a stronger sense of self-efficacy and personal empowerment, perform better academically and graduate at higher rates” (Sleeter & Zavala, 2020).

Building the Team

Ideally, faculty from any discipline being established will be primary in developing curriculum, in which case those faculty must meet the California Community Colleges minimum qualifications or the equivalent. The local college sets the standard, typically through its curriculum committee, for how faculty within the college propose new curriculum. The California Community Colleges Ethnic Studies Taskforce recommends that faculty who meet the ethnic studies minimum qualifications lead the development of curriculum, as any discipline would, to maintain fidelity to the ethnic studies discipline.

Each campus provides guidance in the development of programs and courses. Faculty working in such efforts should maintain contact with their campus curriculum chairs and rely on the California Community Colleges Program and Course Approval Handbook (California Community Colleges Chancellor’ Office, 2023).

Developing the Program

Ethnic studies programs are vast and follow different organizational patterns. Larger colleges have autonomous stand-alone departments in each of the ethnic studies core disciplines, such as the San Diego Mesa College Black Studies Department or the East Los Angeles College Chicana and Chicano Studies Department. Other colleges have developed ethnic studies departments that house two or more of the core disciplines together, such as the Sierra College Ethnic Studies Department or the San Jose City College Ethnic Studies Department. Still other colleges place their ethnic studies courses in social sciences departments; for example, the Los Angeles City College Social Sciences Department houses African American studies, Asian American studies, and Chicana and Chicano studies.

However a college seeks to organize its programs, it must create programs and courses that provide students the opportunity to make choices among the different core disciplines. Although many colleges have crosslisted courses, the California Community Colleges Ethnic Studies Task Force strongly discourages crosslisting ethnic studies courses in general, particularly if doing so would lead to faculty without ethnic studies discipline expertise teaching the course. In addition, the decision to crosslist courses may negatively impact transfer or associate degree for transfer acceptance at the CSU (California Community Colleges Chancellor’ Office, n.d.).

Colleges must be certain that courses have the appropriate course title, such as Ethnic Studies XXX, Introduction to Chicana/o Studies or Chicano Studies XXX, Introduction to Chicana/o Studies, Ethnic Studies XXX, Introduction to African American Studies or African American Studies XXX, or Introduction to African American Studies. When ethnic studies courses are developed, maintaining fidelity to the autonomous core disciplines is key.


California Community Colleges Chancellor’ Office. (2023). Program and Course Approval Handbook. Eighth edition.
California Community Colleges Chancellor’ Office. (n.d.). Ethnic Studies Implementation FAQ. Vision Resource Center.
Sleeter, C., & Zavala, M. (2020, October 15). What the Research Says About Ethnic Studies. National Education Association.
Velez, M., Guerrero, C., & Cheshire, T. (2023, February). The Driving Principles of the Ethnic Studies Disciplines. Senate Rostrum.
Zinshteyn, M. (2020, August 18). California State University now requires ethnic studies. CalMatters.


ASCCC 2023 Exemplary Award Winning Programs

The San Diego Mesa College Ethnic Studies Faculty Council (MC-ESFC)
Chabot College Ethnic Studies
MiraCosta College Ethnic Studies Program
Glendale College Ethnic Studies

Sierra College – Ethnic Studies, Honorable Mention
Fullerton College Ethnic Studies, Honorable Mention

Ethnic Studies Core Competencies

University of California Core Competencies
California State University Core Competencies
California Community Colleges Core Competencies
Faculty Discipline Review Group (C-ID), Ethnic Studies Core Competencies

California Community College Chancellor’s Office Ethnic Studies


Allocation for Implementation ~ (PDF)
Spending FAQ (PDF)


Webinar - Title 5 Implementation of Ethnic Studies: Are You Ready (May 5, 2023)
Webinar slides
Ethnic Studies FAQs Fall 2022

ESS Guidance Memos

ESS 22-300-011 Ethnic Studies Area F Course Certifications ~ (PDF)
ESS 22-300-008 CCC Ethnic Studies Implementation Update ~ (PDF)
ESS 21-300-014 Ethnic Studies Implementation ~ (PDF)
ESS 21-300-001 Ethnic Studies Transfer Alignment ~ (PDF)

ASCCC + Ethnic Studies

Ethnic Studies-CCC Core Competencies, 2023 Curriculum Institute
The State of Ethnic Studies Education in the California Community Colleges, 2022 Fall Plenary Session
Ethnic Studies, 2022 Curriculum Institute
Light the Fire! Embedding Ethnic Studies at the Local College, 2021 Curriculum Institute

For additional information, contact the Ethnic Studies faculty at the California Community College Ethnic Studies Faculty Council at cccefc [at] gmail.com (cccefc[at]gmail[dot]com)

1. ASCCC Adopted Resolutions

Artificial Intelligence, Generative AI, and Ethics: An Educational Perspective

Laney College
Laney College
ASCCC Area B Representative

The following article is not an official statement of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. The article is intended to engender discussion and consideration by local colleges but should not be seen as the endorsement of any position or practice by the ASCCC.

Since late 2022, Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology and applications have been among the most discussed topics in education, public media, and private conversations. Interest in and concerns about using AI products in classroom settings are certain to increase in the coming years. One of the twelve actions in the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO) Vision 2030 calls for “Actively engaging with the impacts of generative AI on future teaching and learning” (CCCCO, 2023). The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges, and the CCCCO have combined to present a series of free zoom webinars to help colleges learn about defining and using  generative AI (GenAI).

College students are already experimenting with generative AI products such as ChatGPT, Gemini, and DALL-E, with or without clear local classroom policies around the use of AI products.  As colleges navigate this rapidly evolving technology, clearly defining AI and GenAI and examining ethical concerns around their use in education will help further meaningful discussions of AI use and applications in the community college system.

What is AI?

Broadly, AI is the field of technologies that try to mimic human behaviors and intelligence through machines, computer programs, or systems. The following image offers further AI details (Artificial Intelligence Data Analytics, n.d.):

Image graphic showing types of Artificial Intelligence. Image quality is very low. Full text is included below.

(Weak artificial intelligence (or Narrow Al, NAI) focuses on mimicking how humans perform basic actions of remembering and perceiving things and solving simple problems.
Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) aims to create intelligent machines indistinguishable from the human mind. If realized, an AGI machine would acquire an intelligence equal to humans.
Artificial Super-Intelligence (ASI) refers to "smart" system with intelligence surpassing that of humans. To date, super Al is still entirely theoretical with active research.
Machine Learning (ML) is a branch of artificial intelligence (Al) that uses data and algorithms to imitate ways humans learn, gradually improving the accuracy of the output or result.
Classic, or non-deep, ML depends on human intervention to learn. Human experts use a set of features to understand the differences between data Inputs, usually requiring more structured data to learn.
ML, Deep Learning (DL), and neural networks (NNs) are all sub-fields of Al. The neural networks field is a sub-field of ML, and DL is a sub-field of neural networks.
Unlike ML, DL does not require human intervention to process data and allows us to scale ML more productively with larger datasets. )

Recent reports have shown that AI technologies have been employed in numerous industry sectors such as high-tech, banking, health, education, and wildfire fighting. The graphs below show the progression and development of AI, which started in the 1950s:

Artificial Intelligence Development History Timeline graphic image showing eleven time points.

(Info Diagram, n.d.)

AI Timeline highlights: 1950 Turning Test by Alan Turning, 1956 term AI was coined, 1964 pioneering chatbot named ELIZA was developed at MIT, 1971-1990 AI Winter, 1997 IB’Ms Deep Blue defeated Garry Kasparov in chess competition, 2009 Google built first self driving car for urban conditions, 2011 Apple's SIRI and IBM's Watson were developed, 2020-2021 many AI products developed.

(Gupta, 2021)

DeepLearning.AI offers free Coursera courses to learn more about AI. One of these courses, “AI For Everyone” (Ng, n.d.), has a unit called “AI and Society” which explains both the possibilities and the current limitations of AI. While AI holds many opportunities due to sophisticated mathematics, computer algorithms, and coding techniques, bias can be introduced into current AI applications that use text files on the internet as well as datasets with limited data. Thus, issues of AI biases and ethics have been raised by scientists (Allyn, 2023) and others, especially around GenAI models or products such as ChatGPT, Google Gemini, or Anthropic Claude.

What are GenAI Products?

GenAI describes algorithms that can create new content, including audio, code, images, text, simulations, and videos. A few known GenAI products are ChatGPT, Gemini, Claude-2, Midjourney for illustrations, and Stability AI  for multimedia. Claims have arisen of bias in GenAI tools, as they may use biased datasets and skewed algorithms. In addition, disputes with the use of some GenAI models have emerged in recent legal cases involving Microsoft/OpenAI, Google, and Anthropic, stating copyrighted materials were used in AI models without proper permissions or compensation. [1] These legal claims and issues provide educators with samples of potential GenAI misuses to be cognizant of when teaching or using AI in the classroom.

Ethics and AI

In general, “Ethics consists of the standards of behavior to which we hold ourselves in our personal and professional lives” (Byars & Stanberry, 2018). Ethical behaviors are needed to drive business and work professionalism. AI technologies have made people more aware of ethics in business, prompting ethics and AI litigations.

According to an early publication by Daly, et.al. (2019), “AI ethics serves for the self-reflection of computer and engineering sciences, which are engaged in the research and development of AI or machine learning.” Those who follow the current advanced development of AI may be shocked by the availability of AI tools to build exciting and better products, which may generate negative impacts on individuals as seen in recent labor strikes and lawsuits such as the one involving the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA, 2023).

Since 2020, multiple governments and organizations have issued guidance and consideration of AI development, including UNESCO, the World Health Organization, the European Parliamentary Research Service, the U. S. White House, and California Governor Gavin Newsom, and terms have been coined such as Responsible AI, Ethical AI, AI for Everyone, and AI Essentials to address societal concerns. Options exist to mitigate ethical issues and leave them to the proper agencies.

Generative AI and Academia

Since the early 2022 introduction of ChatGPT, GenAI has been part of students’ experience with or without the approval of educators. Recent articles discussing GenAI tools have resulted in different views on this subject. Reich (2023) states, “The quality of your writing is not just a measure of your ability to communicate; it is a measure of your ability to think.” Manning (2023) counters this view by stating, “A generative language model can suggest better wordings or hip, catchy phrases. Given one sample paragraph, it can generate 10 other possibilities, which a person might mine the best parts from, or just use them all to provide a variety of messages.” However, a noteworthy perspective in the University of California Berkeley’s highly regarded GenAI blog states, “Generative AI is not a mere technological trend; it's a paradigm shift.” (BerkleyExecEd, n.d.)

Several universities and colleges have issued statements on how to incorporate ChatGPT and other GenAI tools into teaching and learning systems. Some are working behind the scenes to craft system-wide usage policies. Chapman University (n.d.) has compiled a list of various universities’ policies on AI. While academia is progressing on AI policy creation, students are already creatively and increasingly using these GenAI tools in their school work and extra-curricular activities. Many students view learning as taking many forms to achieve their immediate goals of finishing challenging assignments. Of course, academia and educators would emphasize analytical and practical understanding, as well as proper citation and attribution of ideas and wording taken from other sources, in addition to merely finishing or submitting the required assignments, as stated in many course student learning outcomes.

Students entering the workforce are also being expected to understand AI and know how to use the technology. Educators may wish to consider how to engage students in AI-generated material to sharpen their critical thinking and other industry-needed skills. A paradigm shift in teaching and institutions may have to be discussed and designed for. No perfect solutions have been developed, but educators need to “continue learning about the impact of ChatGPT and new AI tools and academic integrity” (The Wiley Network, 2023). Colleges can explore various resources to continue discussing how students, faculty, support staff, administrators, and researchers can best leverage the latest iterations of GenAI to support student success.

AI and the California Community Colleges

Currently, several California community colleges are developing AI courses, and eventually certificates and degrees will provide training and options for the future workforce and general education areas. Artificial Intelligence is one of the newly proposed disciplines currently being reviewed through the ASCCC Disciplines List process. Students earning these AI degrees and certificates can potentially immediately enter the AI industry workforce with skills such as data cleanup on datasets used to train GenAI as well as application testing or developing. Thus, colleges can train students to do valuable work of shoring up ethical guardrails for GenAI development and use. With educators’ perspectives and expectations widespread and evolving, students must continuously experiment with and apply new AI tools. Colleges should collaborate now in AI and GenAI curriculum development to ensure consistent and strategic AI course numbering and titling.

California Governor Gavin Newsom notes, “California is leading the world in GenAI innovation and research, and is home to 35 of the world’s top 50 Artificial Intelligence (‘Al’) companies” (Newsom, 2023). GenAI has started shifting the educational paradigm and allowing students to learn with different creative paths and opportunities. Educators need to explore new perspectives on the teaching goals and learning options to offer students and perhaps should take note of student learning capacity and tool access. The California Community Colleges system will need to prepare students to know how to use AI effectively and responsibly and thus may need to embrace and support AI technologies and AI career pathways.


Allyn, B. (2023, May 28). “The godfather of AI” sounds alarm about potential dangers of AI. NPR.  

Artificial Intelligence Data Analytics. (n.d.). AI and Data Analytics Skills are in Demand. Bay Area Community College Consortium and California Community Colleges.

BerkleyExecEd. (n.d.). Artificial Imagination: The Rise of Generative AI.

Byars, S. & Stanberry K. (2018). Business Ethics.

California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. (2023). Vision 2030.

Chapman University. (n.d.). Artificial Intelligence in Higher Education.

Daly, A., Hagendorff, T., Hui, L., Mann, M., Marda, V., Wagner, B., Wang, W., & Witteborn, S. (2019, June 28). Artificial Intelligence Governance and Ethics: Global Perspectives.

Gupta. J. (2021). AI Timeline. Machine Learning/AI/Data Science.

Info Diagram. (n.d.). Artificial Intelligence Development History Timeline. Financial Decks.

Manning, C. (2023). “The Reinvention of Work.” Generative AI: Perspectives from Stanford HAI. Stanford University.

Newsom, G. (2023, September 6). Executive Order N-12-23. CA.Gov.

Ng. A. (n.d.). AI for Everyone. DeepLearning.AI.

Reich, R. (2023). “In Education, a ‘Disaster in the Making.’” Generative AI: Perspectives from Stanford HAI. Stanford University.

SAG-AFTRA. (2023, November 8). Tentative Agreement Reached.

Wiley Network. (2023, September 18). Higher Ed’s Next Chapter, 2023-2024 Four trends reshaping the learning landscape. Wiley.

1. For more information on the legal issues involving AI, see the litigation database at https://blogs.gwu.edu/law-eti/ai-litigation-database/ and the article "Meet the Lawyer Leading the Human Resistance Against AI" at https://www.wired.com/story/matthew-butterick-ai-copyright-lawsuits-ope….

Advocating for Student Access and Success: Credit for Prior Learning through the California MAP Initiative

ASCCC CTE Leadership Committee

The mission of the California MAP Initiative is to increase equitable access, completion, transfer, and degree attainment for working adults and veterans by offering credit for prior learning (CPL) for industry certifications, military training, portfolio review, standardized assessments, and credit by exam, thus saving time and expense while incentivizing individuals with documented non-college learning to consider higher education that can lead to new career options.

MAP stands for “mapping articulated pathways,” which describes the core process facilitated by the MAP platform designed to make CPL easily accessible and readily available at all 116 California community colleges and beyond. Mapping refers to the process of equating prior learning to college courses. Articulated refers to the analysis and approval process of local discipline faculty validating the prior learning as equivalent to a local college course. Pathways refers to the clear listing of courses needed for degree and certificate completion, with each course on the pathway denoting all articulated CPL options. MAP is intended to improve the confusing and subjective CPL petition process, which currently places the onus on prospective students, and give colleges the means to present up-front CPL offers to current and prospective students.

Currently, 76 of the 116 California community colleges participate in the MAP Cohort, a collection of institutions committed to awarding up to a full year of college credit in recognition of the mastery acquired through prior learning, training, and experience (Map Initiative, n.d.). With the support and guidance of the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO), the goal is to scale efforts to serve all 116 colleges and all 23 California State University campuses and ensure that students have equal access to appropriate CPL no matter where they start in the system.

ASCCC Leadership and CPL

In 2011, the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges passed Resolution 18.04, [1] which supported colleges to offer credit in recognition of prior learning. From this and other resolutions and legislation, faculty have led the effort to establish the CPL requirements and guidelines contained in California Education Code and Title 5 regulations. Historically, colleges recognized prior learning by granting credit for standardized exams—AP, IB, and CLEP—and credit by exam, which primarily focused on high school students. More recently, efforts and regulations are being extended to working adults, veterans, and all those with documented learning, including registered apprentices, licensed professionals, those with work experience, noncredit and adult education students, and others.

Title 5 §55050 requires colleges to offer students an opportunity to receive CPL for validated college-level skills and knowledge gained outside of a college classroom. Students’ knowledge and skills might be gained through experiences in a variety of modalities, and CPL is awarded through industry certification or license, credit by examination, portfolio review, standardized assessment, military training, and  work experience.

Vision 2030 and CPL

The MAP Initiative supports the CCCCO’s Vision 2030, which states, “Vision 2030 incorporates a shift in our approach to proactively bring college to our prospective students, wherever they are and not to wait for them to come to us …[by] offering credit for prior learning to veterans and working adults” (CCCCO, 2023). Chancellor Sonya Christian’s vision for success includes identifying transcribable and transferable CPL so students can increase degree and certificate attainment. Part of this vision is to implement greater CPL collaboration between community colleges, the California State University, and the University of California, saving students up to one year of study and expediting career readiness.

Closing Equity and Achievement Gaps

According to Klein-Collins, et.al. (2020), adult learners who receive CPL complete a program of study at almost twice the rate—49% vs 27%—of those who receive no CPL. When CPL is isolated from other factors, the increase in completion is 17%. This significant CPL boost also has a direct equity impact for students who are Hispanic (24%), Black (14%), enrolled in community college (25%), or Pell recipients (19%).

California has 6.8 million working adults who do not have a college degree or certificate. However, many have training or experience equivalent to college coursework. The potential for CPL to increase equitable access may be the state’s strongest untapped equity lever available. Adult recipients of CPL enjoy decreased time to completion, decreased debt accumulation, and increased success, retention, and completion rates (Klein-Collins, et.al., 2020).  

California Workforce Needs and CPL

California Competes (2021) conducted research that determined a 2.4 million degree gap exists to meet workforce needs, along with a 10% increased need every year until 2031. Sixty-nine percent of working adults believe a degree or certificate would provide an advantage or a very strong advantage to one entering or re-entering the workforce, and 84% believe CPL opportunities would strongly influence their choice of college or university (Strada Education Network, 2020). A Strada recontact survey (Torpey-Saboe & Clayton, 2022) found that 54% of adults stated that CPL was the factor that increased their probability of post-secondary college or university enrollment. However, a survey conducted by Klein-Collins and Framularo (2022) noted that fewer than 11% receive CPL for their life or work experiences.  

Student CPL Story

Marine Corps veteran Santiago Vega Jr. and his family demonstrate the opportunity CPL presents to colleges, working adults, and veterans. Santiago qualified for seventeen units of CPL based on his military training and went on to earn a bachelor of science degree in kinesiology at CSU Fullerton. When his father—also a Marine Corps veteran with the same military occupation—learned about Santiago’s credit, he also qualified for seventeen units of CPL. The father then stepped away from his successful lighting business to enroll at Norco College and is completing a degree in social and behavioral sciences. Santiago’s mother, Josie, was inspired by her husband and son and is now pursuing her own degree in sociology. This story is one of many that are now arising from CPL and the work of the MAP Initiative.

 Estimated Economic Impact of CPL

According to the MAP Initiative (n.d.), fifteen units of credit preserves over $34,000 in educational benefits. An exploratory model was recently developed to identify the potential economic returns of CPL. Preliminary findings indicate a total per-person savings and economic impact of $67,609 for California working adults who receive fifteen units of CPL and complete an associate degree (Lee, 2024). When CPL is awarded to California veterans and service members, the potential economic return is $121,554.

Based on estimates, if California’s community colleges were able to offer an average of fifteen units of CPL on 2+2 pathways and attract 100,000 working adults—just 862 per college—to enroll and earn an associate degree, the savings and economic impact to the state would potentially be $6.8 billion (Lee, 2024). Not only would this accomplishment meet workforce needs and foster economic mobility, but it would also lead to greater collaboration with industry partners and an equitable increase in system enrollment, completion, and transfer in key populations such as career technical education, apprenticeships, high school dual enrollment, noncredit, adult education, and community college baccalaureate programs.

The MAP Initiative leadership team is collaborating with the CCCCO, the ASCCC, and the CSU to align policies and procedures to ensure that CPL transfers seamlessly and is accepted when transcribed. Current CSU CPL policy clarifies the recognition and acceptance of CPL awarded by the campuses. In 2023, the CSU Chancellor’s Office required that all CSU campuses adopt and publish their local CPL policy and procedure (California State University, 2023). As colleges move forward, they need to identify CPL opportunities for all programs and share articulation with each other, partnering with other regional CPL efforts designed to maximize credit.

What’s Next?

At the 2023 CPL Summit, Chancellor Christian issued a call to action, asking all California community colleges to develop the capacity and procedures to expand and offer CPL (CCCCO Call to Action, 2023).  The three-part strategy of the California MAP Initiative is to support all colleges in the state by offering CPL best practices and professional development, advocating policy reform, and providing a technology platform. With the support of the Board of Governors and the CCCCO, the initiative will be able to assist all colleges as they evaluate courses for CPL credit and make articulation decisions maximizing credit statewide. CPL will offer working adults and students credit and program choices and will create an unbroken and optimized pathway from college to career or career advancement.


California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. (2023). Introduction from the Chancellor.

California Competes. (2021, May 6). Get Ready: Introducing the Millions of Adults Planning to Enroll in College.

California State University. (2023). Credit for Prior Learning Policy.

CCCCO Call to Action. (2023). Uploaded by California Map Initiative. YouTube.

Klein-Collins, R., & Framularo, C. (2022). Attracting adult learners with credit for prior learning. CAEL.

Klein-Collins, R., Taylor, J., Bishop, C., Bransberger, P., Lane, P., & Leibrandt, S. (2020). The PLA Boost. CAEL/WICHE.

Lee, S. (2024). Economic impact estimates of credit for prior learning on working adults and military service members: A preliminary study. MAP Initiative.

Map Initiative. (n.d.). California Map Initiative.

Strada Education Network. (2020, September 16). Interested but not Enrolled: Understanding and Serving Aspiring Adult Learners.

Torpey-Saboe, N., & Clayton, D. (2022, June 15). Education Expectations: Views on the Value of College and Liklihood to Enroll. Strada Education Foundation.

1.  ASCCC Adopted Resolutions

Vision 2030’s Focus on Climate Action: How Faculty Roles and College Governance are Critical to Building Momentum and Implementation

Mt. San Antonio College
San Diego Miramar College
San Diego Mesa College
ASCCC North Representative

The following article is not an official statement of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. The article is intended to engender discussion and consideration by local colleges but should not be seen as the endorsement of any position or practice by the ASCCC.

Environmental justice, sustainability, and climate action are components of the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office Vision 2030. All are important topics to embed in education, as future generations must understand how scientific, economic, political, and social decisions can have impacts on humans. In previous Rostrum articles, the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) has highlighted statewide efforts surrounding career education in disciplines related to sustainability (Crump, 2011), how to embed sustainability into curriculum (Smith, 2011) and senate discussions (Beaulieu, 2009), and how the ASCCC has promoted sustainability (Adams, 2010). In more recent years, California community colleges have continued to develop efforts and programs regarding environmental justice, sustainability, and climate action.

Central to discussions around equity are the economic, social, and environmental effects on disproportionately impacted communities both in California and globally. Climate change and climate action have been matters of concern for decades, and most of the discussions have centered around science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines. The concept of sustainability followed, including economic, social, and political components into climate action. Though the idea of environmental justice is not new (Environmental Protection Agency, 2024), recently more attention is being paid to efforts focusing on the concept, which considers how the actions and decisions of the economically and educationally privileged can have impacts on underprivileged populations. Thus, climate action, sustainability, and environmental justice have an interdisciplinary focus.

Environmental Justice and Sustainability in Curriculum

In California’s higher education systems, sustainability programs have been on the rise. The California State University and University of California have developed baccalaureate and graduate programs in sustainability, environmental science, environmental policy, and other related disciplines. Among the community colleges, a number of programs exist or are being developed; for example, San Diego City, Mesa, and Miramar Colleges each have their own associate degrees in sustainability. These degrees offer different levels of focus in the physical sciences, philosophy, and the humanities. Each program offers students the opportunity to engage in hands-on learning. San Diego City College also offers an associate degree in sustainable urban agriculture as well as a certificate in organic gardening for the culinary arts taught on the campus’ fruit and vegetable farm. Certificates in sustainability are available at each college as well, with San Diego City offering stackable certificates in Fall 2025.

In addition to these programs, each college offers a variety of courses with a sustainability focus, including Environmental Ethics, Economics of the Environment, Plants and People, Issues in Environmental Science & Sustainability, Weather and Climate, Globalization and Social Change, Sustainable Urban Agricultural Practice, Sustainable Art and Design, and Introduction to Peace Studies. A number of geography courses provide a strong sustainability and environmental and social justice focus, and sustainability is infused throughout the art curriculum as well. Most of these courses and programs are transferable or qualify for general education credit. [1] The colleges have also been collaborating across the district to provide educational and interactive events throughout the week surrounding Earth Day, including an environmental justice summit and a social justice conference.

Demonstrating an Institutional Commitment to Sustainability

Mt. San Antonio College made a strong commitment to sustainability with its first Climate Action Plan (CAP) in 2018, for which the campus received several awards, including the California Community Colleges Board of Governors 2018 Sustainability Award, the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference Award for Faculty-Led Collaborative Climate Action Planning in 2019, and the U.S. Green Building Council Award, San Diego Chapter in 2020. Mt. SAC’s CAP differed from traditional CAPs, which focus on a campus’ carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions, through its additional focus on curriculum implementation, professional development, community outreach, and student engagement.

Institutional commitment to sustainability is crucial and can be demonstrated in many ways. At Mt. SAC, sustainability is infused into the college mission, vision, and core values as well as the work of all academic senate committees and councils. Financial commitment to support implementing the goals of the CAP is another critical component. Mt. SAC now has a sustainability director within facilities and planning and a sustainability coordinator, which is a faculty member appointed by the academic senate who receives some release time. Strong collaboration between these two roles has been essential and beneficial in integrating sustainability across campus. One of the responsibilities of the sustainability coordinator is to offer professional development for faculty seeking to infuse sustainability into their courses. Using the seventeen United Nations supported sustainable development goals as a guide for this training has allowed more faculty to apply sustainability to their work with students beyond topics such as climate change. Mt. SAC faculty from most campus divisions, including noncredit, are now teaching about sustainability and increasingly focusing on topics surrounding environmental and social justice.

Courses with embedded sustainability elements are designated with a leaf symbol in the schedule of classes, allowing students to seek out these courses. Future goals include offering sustainability certificate and degree programs to help students be prepared for the many evolving jobs in the green and blue economies and expanding the student sustainability internship program.

Advocating for Increased Commitment to Sustainable Practices

Over the last fifteen years, while board policy in the San Diego Community College District has broadly supported environmental sustainability, the appearance of this topic in administrative actions, faculty governance, and student clubs has been varied and intermittent. A district sustainability committee was resuscitated in 2019 and facilitated crucial collaboration across district colleges. At San Diego Mesa College in particular, 2020 was a turning point when students from the campus environment club, TerraMesa, insisted that the re-write of the college’s strategic plan, Mesa2030, include an acknowledgment of the climate crisis and the looming disproportionate impact it would have on students. This action was a wake-up call, and the college has been working since then to develop and implement a climate action plan as called for in Mesa2030.

Mesa College’s Environmental Sustainability Committee—a faculty governance body—was tasked with collaborating with campus coinstituencies to develop the plan. The committee attempts to learn from the environmental justice movement: power will let the worst effects fall on those least able to resist, unless colleges try to get ahead of the unfolding disaster. As Ibram X. Kendi (2019, p.20) wrote in How to Be an Anti-Racist, “Do-nothing climate policy is racist policy.”  
The framework for Mesa College’s CAP turned to the criteria included in the Sustainability Tracking and Reporting System (STARS) developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. As the name suggests, the criteria are tailored to measure items like the inclusion of sustainability in coursework across the campus and opportunities for students to engage in sustainability research as well as more standard items like the trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions generated by the campus. The college also looked to the goals set out in the Sustainability Framework approved by the California Community Colleges Board of Governors in 2021 and to the goals specified in San Diego’s Climate Action Plan. The Mesa plan is intended to be data-driven, but with little data about or control over the greenhouse gas emissions generated by the physical plant, the college turned its attention to curriculum, education, outreach, and student life. Like Mt SAC, Mesa awarded leaf symbols to courses in the college schedule but used the definition of sustainability-focused or sustainability-inclusive courses in STARS to identify these courses.

Mesa college also surveyed the campus to measure important factors like knowledge about climate change and the average time it takes for students who ride the bus to get to campus. While the CAP continues to take shape in the background, faculty and students have been building a culture of sustainability across campus, such as working at the Mesa Garden and building the Sustainable Food Futures Program, embracing the Mesa Green Pledge, presenting research about sustainability at the annual Mesa College Research Conference, surveying and protecting diversity in the local canyons with the Mesa Woodland Trail, taking a delegation of students and faculty from Mesa and San Diego City Colleges to an event at West Los Angeles College's Center for Climate Change Education, hosting Earth Day events, and celebrating bus and bike riders during October Campus Sustainability Month. [2] Finally, in 2023, data needed for the facilities aspect of the CAP was gathered and presented by the district as part of an effort to build support for a voter-approved city bond measure.

As academic senates envision their roles in promoting environmental justice, they should consider how existing efforts to embed equity into curriculum can be complementary to including environmental justice into the discussions. They should look at college governance structures and seek ways to work with administration to promote sustainable practices while supporting student success, learning, and community health, and they can explore professional development opportunities such as attending climate summits sponsored by the Foundation for California Community Colleges. Future efforts towards promoting sustainability and environmental justice may be highlighted in future Rostrum articles.


Adams, J. (2010, December). How Green Is the Senate? Senate Rostrum.

Beaulieu, D. (2009, May). Sustainability and the Academic Senate. Senate Rostrum.

Crump, D. (2011, March). Green Jobs to Fit that Sustainability Curriculum. Senate Rostrum.

Environmental Protection Agency. (2024, January 11). Environmental Justice.

Kendi, I. (2019). How to Be an Anti-Racist. One World.

Smith, B. (2011, March). Sustaining Sustainability: A Role for Curriculum. Senate Rostrum.

1.  San Diego Community College District credit courses and programs.

2.  One may learn more about San Diego Mesa College’s Ecomesa effort.

A Win-Win: Experiential Student Learning meets Transformational Institutional Hiring

ASCCC North Representative
ASCCC Faculty Leadership Development Committee Member

Colleges frequently talk about centering on students. In curriculum design, syllabus construction, assignments, and even grading practices, many educators actively include student voice in their pedagogy. Institutions also attempt to include students in shared governance and college-wide processes and professional development. At City College of San Francisco (CCSF), every shared governance committee has two voting and two alternate student seats, the student trustee has an advisory vote on the board of trustees, and the Associated Student Government Executive Council meetings are a regular stop for feedback and review of the development of college-wide policies, presentations, and initiatives. As of Spring 2023, the CCSF faculty hiring process includes the option to include student members (CCSF, 2023). Colleges can continue to enact their commitments to student centeredness while also bolstering and improving their institutional processes and policies by including students on faculty search committees.

In Spring 2021, the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges passed Resolution 20.02 SP21, which “encourage[ed] local academic senates to review their hiring processes, discuss the role of students in hiring processes, and include local student governments and human resource offices in those discussions.”[1] Designating seats for students on search committees furthers system commitments to faculty diversity in hiring and enhancing culturally responsive EEO practices. The fifth point of the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO) 10-Point Plan for Faculty Diversity Hiring, focused on search committee composition, includes the recommendation that “Institutions should also include a student representative as a best practice of creating diversity and implementing a unique perspective” (CCCCO, 2023). Including students in hiring practices also aligns with recommendations from the Association of Chief Human Resource Officers (ACHRO), which “strongly recommends all Districts add student participation in all hiring committees” (ACHRO, 2020).

We All Win

Research shows that including students on search committees reaps benefits for students, prospective candidates, and the institutions overall. A pilot at Austin Community College reveals that students serving on search committees gain several benefits, including opportunities to have a voice in the selection of faculty, to experience a professional interview process, and to network and interact with department faculty outside of the classroom (Glenn, 2022). Students can also add this experience to their resumes while learning about specific practices regarding employment in higher educational settings.

Search committees themselves can also benefit from student involvement, as student inclusion reinforces student-centeredness in hiring practices and procedures, offering search committee members unique insight into student perspectives, needs, and goals. Departments and programs that include students on search committees can enhance their instruction by supporting students beyond the classroom in a real world application of skills taught in courses as they manifest in hiring practices. Even prospective candidates win, as having students present in interviews that include teaching demonstrations offers candidates a more genuine situation.

The institution wins as processes and practices become more student-informed, empowering student voice and emboldening colleges to be more student-ready. Including students on search committees offers a chance to exercise institutional agility in being able to see hiring practices from another perspective in order to upgrade and make improvements that are directly student-informed. In this way, colleges provide more opportunities and perspectives to increase hiring diverse faculty who better reflect the student body.

Love the Player, Love the Game

Opening seats for students on search committees is a step in the right direction but on its own is not enough. In order to maximize the success of students and the success of search committees, colleges must also build infrastructure to support students and search committee members. This infrastructure, built with students at the center, can take on many forms and can ultimately serve all committee members and support institutional consistency in hiring practices. Examples include the following:

  • Create a hiring guide that has basic hiring practices, rules, and regulations outlined and explains how to start as a member of a search committee [2]
  • Use file-saving methods or alternative file-sharing approaches to provide students full access to hiring materials. Some methods only provide employer access and could restrict access for students;
  • Designate an employee search committee member who can serve as a mentor and direct contact for the student member whenever the student has questions or concerns;
  • Offer students a chance to reflect and give feedback on hiring practices and ensuring that their feedback is incorporated into the process for future searches;
  • Provide onboarding and training that is accessible to students throughout the process in an ongoing capacity and as needed. Codifying and regularly updating and sharing processes could serve as ongoing training for student members.

Colleges that have a two or three-phase hiring process—such as paper screening, interviews, and demonstration—might consider some of the following approaches for welcoming student participation:

  • Detail the entire process and time commitment and give students the option to decide for themselves whether they want to participate for the entire process or just interviews;
  • Ensure that regardless of when students become involved in the process, they have access to all the search committee materials;
  • Ensure that students have a voice in helping set meeting times. Being mindful of avoiding flex days, midterms, and final exam schedules can promote more student involvement;
  • If students cannot participate in all phases of the hiring, ensure that they are included in the foundational committee meetings, such as those that generate job descriptions, interview questions, demonstration or presentation assignments, and the rubrics that accompany each part of the process;
  • Make sure documents are shared prior to being finalized so that students have a chance to offer feedback during generative stages.

Going for Wins, but Worried about Losses

When presented with the prospect of including students on search committees, some educators worry about confidentiality, loss of candidate privacy, and larger questions about potential for unforeseen downsides and legal ramifications of including students. ACHRO (2020) outlines some of the current challenges that prevent student participation while also offering concrete strategies for both formal and informal student participation. Infrastructures built with a focus on supporting student members can equally train employee members and bolster the hiring process overall. Students can be involved in various ways, participating as voting members or non-voting members and at any part of the hiring process. Some colleges engage students for interviews only, while others include students from the very beginning, asking them to help design interview questions and participate in paper screening, interviews, and teaching demonstrations.

Paper screening is an area where students sometimes are not included the process. The intentions perhaps are to make the process less arduous for students, with the recognition that employees are contractually obligated to do this work but students are not. However, if colleges want to be fully inclusive and fully empower students, then they should give students all of the information and allow the students to determine in which parts of the process they want to participate, with consideration for specific committee needs and timelines. Ideally, students would have a full vote in order to fully recognize how the college values their participation.

Confidentiality of candidates’ personal information is a concern that can be addressed in a variety of ways. Colleges might enact blind scoring, where personal information and the candidates’ names are removed to reduce unconscious bias (Min, 2017). This practice could also quell concerns about personal candidate information being shared. Furthermore, student representatives are no more likely to abuse access to personal information than any other committee member; the thought that students will negatively take advantage of this privilege is tied to overall deficit thinking when it comes to student capacity.

If colleges are to offer this opportunity to students, they need to be prepared to provide support and mindful of any legal ramifications that could arise in relation to culpability should grievances or candidate concerns arise. Colleges can work with their human resources departments to ensure students are not legally impacted. While colleges must comply with all laws, designing practices to include students should not be predicated on fear of litigation. If colleges are conducting hiring practices that encourage candidates, support committee members, uplift student members, and are transparent and institutionally consistent and in legal compliance, they can potentially reduce the number of grievances altogether.

Local academic senates can work with their student government bodies to create processes for seating student representatives on search committees. Sharing these process upgrades with human resources and all departments involved in faculty hiring is vital to ensuring that when colleges invite students in, everyone—the students, the candidates, the process, and the institution—will end up with a win.


Association of Chief Human Resource Officers. (2020, November 23). Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategy Recommendation. Student Participation in Selection Processes.

California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. (2023). Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) 10-Point Plan for Faculty Diversity Hiring.

City College of San Francisco. (2023, May 19). Faculty Hiring Procedures

Glenn, T.E. (2022, March). Inclusion of Student Voices in the Faculty Hiring Process. League for Innovation in the Community College 17.3.

Min, J. (2017, June 8). Blind Hiring: A How-To Guide to Reduce Bias & Increase Diversity. Ideal.

1. ASCCC Adopted Resolutions

2. See, for example, City College of San Francisco’s “Serving on a Search Committee”.

Transforming Lives: A Health Equity Approach to Student Success via Physical Literacy Education

Rio Hondo College, CCCPEKD President
Bakersfield College, CCCPEKD Vice President
Santa Barbara City College, CCCPEKD Executive Board Member
CCCPEKD Executive Board Member

Note: The following article is not an official statement of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. The article is intended to engender discussion and consideration by local colleges but should not be seen as the endorsement of any position or practice by the ASCCC.

The Cal-GETC transfer pattern mandated by Assembly Bill 928 (Berman, 2021) will take effect in less than eighteen months. The bill had many proposed benefits designed to help streamline the transfer process for community college students. While the passage of this legislation was promising, it also may produce unintended consequences that are a result of the Cal-GETC pattern. One of these results is the elimination of the California State University (CSU) General Education Breadth Area E Lifelong Learning and Self Development as a requirement for community college students wishing to transfer.  

The CSU system continues to value lifelong learning and self-development as a graduation requirement, but with the Cal-GETC pattern required for transfer starting in Fall 2025, lifelong learning and self-development are no longer a requirement for transfer to the CSU. This change creates a hole in the required academic curriculum for community college students and becomes yet another systemic barrier for a population that has fewer resources to learn and practice healthy lifestyle disease prevention, which only serves to widen health inequities in California.  

Given these developments, and the significant negative health effects that flow from them, California community colleges must commit to health, physical education, and kinesiology as part of their local degree requirements. This commitment would preserve student access to these needed resources and would be a clear demonstration that the institutions value the health and well-being of their students.

Health Disparities and Systemic Barriers

In fall 2023, the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) overwhelmingly passed Resolution 17.04, titled "Addressing the Health and Well-being Crisis Among California's Community College Students. [1]  Recognizing the ongoing crisis in the well-being of community college students and the resulting health inequities stemming from the deletion of lifelong learning and self-development as a transfer requirement, the ASCCC underscored the imperative to address these pressing issues. The physical health and mental well-being of California’s young adults have declined to alarming levels, leading to severe and enduring consequences for the state’s overall health status and financial stability.

Unfortunately, public education systems in California, including elementary, secondary, and the CSU, have either neglected or completely abandoned the teaching of physical literacy through health, kinesiology, and physical education curriculum. The community colleges, as the primary providers for adult learners, must assume a leadership role in mandating physical literacy as an integral component of local degree requirements. The long-term health of California’s citizens and, consequently, the financial stability of the state hinge significantly on the actions taken by California’s community colleges.

The exclusion of lifelong learning courses from the transfer requirements to the CSU system reflects a troubling parallel with the observed trend in the University of California system. The CSU system, along with the community colleges, serves as a primary force in higher education in California, especially for students of color. Community colleges must devise a comprehensive strategy to mitigate health disparities that currently pose significant barriers to student success and diminish the long-term quality of life.

Improving the understanding, motivation, and skills to be physically active—i.e., physical literacy—among community college students is a moral imperative. These benefits last a lifetime. The vast majority of community college and CSU graduates remain in California post-graduation, applying their skills and knowledge as part of the state’s workforce. A healthy workforce is a productive workforce.  

Mental Health Focus and Physical Activity

California community colleges must prioritize mental health and well-being. Acknowledging the integral role of mental health in student success, colleges must incorporate a mental health focus into educational programs. Physical activity stands out as a potent strategy in this regard, with numerous studies highlighting its positive impact on mental health. Incorporating physical activity into the curriculum not only contributes to overall well-being but also serves as a powerful tool for stress reduction and enhanced cognitive function. By prioritizing mental health and integrating physical activity into educational practices, community colleges can actively contribute to reducing health disparities, breaking down barriers to student success, and improving the long-term quality of life for their diverse student populations.

Leadership in Education and Equitable Access

Community colleges must begin now to prioritize the education of California’s citizens in health, wellness, physical literacy, and equitable access, especially in local degrees. Since many of the students pursuing these degrees do not transfer to a four-year university, they will not receive the needed benefits of lifelong learning if this instruction is not offered at the community college level. The ASCCC supported this concept by passing Resolution 17.04 in fall 2023, which encouraged local academic senates to “initiate, reinstate, or maintain kinesiology, physical education and health education courses in local general education requirements for associate degrees to ensure that California community college students have the benefit of education in critical areas that affect their academic success, health, and well-being.”

Research demonstrates that sedentary students are more physically active when health education or physical activity courses are required. When these courses are electives, they tend to draw students already motivated to be physically active. Additionally, studies show that students who are not physically active in college tend to remain inactive after graduation, negatively impacting their overall health and longevity. Mandating physical literacy as a local graduation requirement is crucial for student success and nurturing well-rounded individuals who are equipped to thrive in all aspects of life. By emphasizing the immense benefits physical literacy offers, colleges can foster holistic development, promote health and wellness, enhance social integration, boost academic achievement, and build stronger communities.

California’s community colleges must take the lead in providing an equitable pathway to physical literacy among their students. Health, physical education, and kinesiology education must be a mandatory part of local degree requirements. The benefits of these requirements will extend not only to the students themselves but to the state as these students enter the workforce. If the state hopes to achieve improvements in societal health, change must begin at the individual level.

California Community College Physical Education, Kinesiology, and Dance (CCCPEKD) is an organization whose purpose is to maintain the highest standards possible for California community college physical education, kinesiology, and dance programs. With a membership of individuals active in or supportive of the disciplines of physical education, kinesiology, and dance, CCCPEKD promotes physical literacy and encourages student centered activities which will benefit the disciplines and provide equitable lifelong learning and self-development for students at the community college level throughout the State of California.

1. ASCCC Adopted Resolutions

Braided Rivers: Toward Clear Transfer Pathways for STEM Students

ASCCC Transfer, Articulation, and Student Services Committee

The following article is not an official statement of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. The article is intended to engender discussion and consideration by local colleges but should not be seen as the endorsement of any position or practice by the ASCCC.

In 2021, Assembly Bill 928 (Berman, 2021) aimed to foster improvements in the academic achievement of transfer students. Transfer opportunity gaps are the largest for Latinx/Latine and Black transfer students, and a majority of transfer students experience intersegmental transfer as unclear, complex, and incongruent with their educational plans (Hotchkiss, 2019). With regard to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students, AB 928 specifically indicated that intersegmental transfer should be streamlined by degree pathway proposals with a “higher unit threshold.” The December 2023 final report from the Associate Degree for Transfer Intersegmental Committee specifically recommended “an option for up to an additional six units” and an allowance for “general educational flexibility” in STEM ADT pathways (Fischbeck, 2023). Presumably, the higher unit threshold and course requisite flexibility would reduce credit loss, improve transfer preparation, and support the development of new ADT pathways for STEM bachelor degree completers. In order to improve the experiences of STEM transfer students and develop appropriate course pathway requirements, proposals for STEM ADT pathways should prioritize STEM-specific coursework and provide more options for post-transfer degree programs.

Community College Engineering Programs and the Transfer Function

Community colleges in the United States stand apart from other higher education institutions due to their role in cultivating a demographically diverse pool of engineering and technology scholars from low-income backgrounds (Cosentino et al., 2014; Malcolm & Feder, 2016).  Engineering associate degree completion by women and by Black and Latinx/Latine students is nearing demographic parity at a national level (Berhane et al., 2023). Additionally, post-matriculation transfer students persist in engineering university programs at the same rate as non-transfers (Sullivan et al., 2012). As a result, post-traditional—for example, older, non-White, employed, part-time—engineering students are approaching numerical parity with traditional university engineering students (National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, 2023).  

As this shift occurs, the enrollment of transfer students must also shift from a component of campus diversity initiatives to an integrated enrollment management practice. If engineering transfer students are only valued for their diversity, transfer policies and practices aid the representation of engineering as a discipline for White cis-gender men and of transfer students as underprepared. As a result, transfer students are not recognized for the assets they bring to receiving institutions, and the institutions are not held accountable for the policies and practices that contribute to the marginalization of transfer students.

In 2022, 2,459 engineering transfers from California community colleges enrolled in programs at the California State University (California State University, n.d.), and 1,112 engineering transfers students were enrolled in University of California programs (University of California, 2023). However, ADTs are not available in engineering or engineering sub disciplines for transfer students who enroll in CSU or UC engineering programs. While C-ID courses and  model curricula exist for engineering pathways, “autonomous university engineering faculty have made independent changes to their lower-division curricula” such that no “single engineering course” is required by similar bachelor’s degree programs across the state (Dunmire et al., 2011). Additionally, engineering bachelor degree programs “are designed to have more general education courses in the latter 2 years” to provide a balance between “difficult technical courses [and] nonprogram elective courses” (Grote et al., 2020). The design of these degrees contradicts the emphasis on general education courses in ADTs and creates a misalignment with pre-transfer coursework for students interested in engineering bachelor’s degrees.  

STEM transfer students receive conflicting messages about which community college courses to complete, creating confusion that contributes to credit loss and does not support the development of new STEM ADT pathways. Given the high participation of Latinx/Latine and Black students in the California Community Colleges system, new STEM ADT pathways can improve equitable outcomes by accelerating the matriculation of transfer students without requiring the completion of all general education classes before transfer.

Stacked Certificate Model

Given the diversity of course requirements and the divergent designs of engineering and other STEM degree programs in the CSU and UC systems, a single ADT pathway should align with all the variants of bachelor degree programs available. A stacked certificate model would ease the completion of credentials by students who co-enroll or laterally transfer between post-secondary institutions. Moreover, the larger goal of the ADT is to move away from course articulation and toward the recognition of community college credentials that provide the prerequisite preparation for upper-division coursework. An embedded, stacked certificate model would support the development of new STEM ADTs and serve as a model of clear transfer pathways.

As engineering programs in the CSU and UC systems differ primarily by the amount of prerequisite general education and discipline-specific courses they require, a certificate model should include course groupings that reflect the different levels of prerequisite preparation expected by different engineering transfer programs without necessitating the completion of all the engineering courses or unaligned general education courses to earn a transfer pathway credential. The following proposed structure offers an example:

  • Level 1 engineering certificates include two semesters of calculus, two semesters of engineering physics, and English composition.  
  • Level 2 engineering certificates include an Introduction to Engineering course, two additional semesters of mathematics, and two non-STEM, transferable general education courses.  
  • Level 3 engineering certificates are discipline specific—e.g. Mechanical, Civil, Electrical, Software, Chemical, and Materials—and include only discipline specific courses and non-discipline specific STEM courses.  

In combination, a sequential set of these three certificates would yield a discipline-specific ADT pathway.

As shown in Figure 1 below, the certificate structure also provides guidance for students who decide to transfer before completing the ADT coursework or who change their engineering discipline fields. This pathway design provides improved clarity, potentially reduces credit loss, and limits the complexity that students experience in transfer pathways. Such an ADT design also parallels efforts in other states to prepare STEM students for bachelor degree programs (Kakkikonen, 2014).  

Image of proposed certificates for an embedded, stacked certificate engineering ADT pathway

Figure 1: The images above include proposed certificates for an embedded, stacked certificate engineering ADT pathway. Course numbers included in the certificates are from the C-ID numbering system.

What Local Academic Senates Can Do

The work toward an improved transfer system for STEM students aligns with two areas of the academic and professional matters of academic senate purview delineated in Title 5 §53200: degree and certificate requirements and educational program development. Local academic senates should therefore be involved in the dialogue regarding the degree development and should emphasize the importance of involving discipline faculty in this work.

  • Local academic senates can become involved in these discussions in the following ways:
  • Agendize the topic for discussion at local academic senate meetings and other college governance or leadership meetings.
  • Encourage the creation of a curriculum inquiry group to further explore stackable certificates.
  • Include student representatives and student voices in the conversations.
  • Collect and discuss data on the pre-transfer course-taking patterns of STEM transfer students, the alignment of these patterns with transfer pathway requirements, and opportunity gaps in STEM pathways.
  • Initiate conversations about transfer pathways that incorporate inclusive policies and affirm the learning experiences of STEM transfer students with representatives from transfer-receiving institutions.
  • Provide support and resources to discipline faculty as they develop or revise certificate and degree programs that serve both local and statewide STEM pathways and to all faculty who seek new program designs that address the challenges faced by transfer students.
  • Encourage the hiring of STEM faculty that bring expertise in program design and inclusive service and work to revise hiring practices to attract qualified candidates.
  • Connect with the California Engineering Liaison Council, a voluntary body of engineering faculty from the public California higher education segments that has been working to address these challenges.

STEM faculty, those closest to the program design and the pulse of STEM transfer students, must be central to these efforts and receive support from their local academic senates, their curriculum committees, and their colleagues at transfer-receiving institutions in order to be more thoughtful and creative in their program design.


Berhane, B. T., Vaye, C. N., Sturgess, J. R., & Adeniranye, D. I. (2023). Exploring the Potential for Broadening Participation in Engineering through Community College and Minority-Serving Institution Partnerships. 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition. 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore, Maryland.

California State University. (n.d.). First-Time Freshmen from California High Schools and Other Institutions. Tableau.

Cosentino, C., Sullivan, M. D., Gahlawat, N. T., Ohland, M. W., & Long, R. A. (2014). Black engineering transfer students: What explains their success? 2014 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE) Proceedings, 1–5.

Dunmire, E., Enriquez, A., & Disney, K. (2011). The dismantling of the engineering education pipeline. 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition Proceedings, 22.1443.1-22.1443.17.

Fischbeck, L. (2023). 2023 Final Report and Recommendations. AB 928 Associate Degree for Transfer Intersegmental Implementation Committee.

Grote, D. M., Knight, D. B., Lee, W. C., & Watford, B. A. (2020). Exploring Influences of Policy Collisions on Transfer Student Access: Perspectives From Street-Level Bureaucrats. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 42(4), 576–602.

Hotchkiss, B. (2019). Sources of Enrollment and Completion Gaps in STEM Higher Education. California Education Learning Lab.

Kakkikonen, D. (2014). Associate of Science Transfer and STEM Focused Direct Transfer Agreement—Associate of Arts (14-3). Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.

Malcolm, S., & Feder, M., eds. (2016). Barriers and Opportunities for 2-Year and 4-Year STEM Degrees: Systemic Change to Support Students’ Diverse Pathways (S. Malcom & M. Feder, Eds.; p. 21739). National Academies Press.

National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. (2023). Diversity and STEM: Women, minorities, and persons with disabilitites 2023 (Special Report NSF 23-315). National Science Foundation.

Sullivan, M. D., De Cohen, C. C., Barna, M. J., Orr, M. K., Long, R. A., & Ohland, M. W. (2012). Understanding engineering transfer students: Demographic characteristics and educational outcomes. 2012 Frontiers in Education Conference Proceedings, 1–6.

University of California. (2023, February 9). Transfers by Major.