One sunday morning, in San Diego under a cool morning marine layer, over 300 students gathered to make history. The debates had been going on for over a year, and really for longer than that, without going too deeply into the history of our statewide student representation for California Community Colleges. Twenty-five odd souls had worked feverishly over the past year developing several structural models of which Model E had been selected by the existing ten regions as the one most likely to meet their needs.
It has been my honor to serve on the 2005-2006 Executive Committee for the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. We have dealt with many thorny issues, but none more difficult than the question of whether to support raising the adjunct teaching limit from 60 to 80 percent of a full-time teaching load. The true strength and health of the Academic Senate was demonstrated in the deliberations-both in the Executive Committee and at Session-regarding this issue.
As with most things, a lack of formality is fine until there is disagreement or discontent. When controversy arises and relationships are not clearly delineated, the manure hits the fan. While we can consider this quandary with respect to many things, I'll take on the relationship between your curriculum, your senate, and your board. Do you know what your "power" structure is? Does anyone? Perhaps "power" is not the right word-but you get the idea.
Politics is an interesting endeavor-full of opportunities and traps. In his first year in office Governor Schwarzenegger achieved considerable success by breaking the mold of the traditional process and crafting flamboyant personal deals. but it all fell spectacularly apart when he encountered the immovable "special interests" of teachers, nurses and firefighters. When the public perception is that you've broken your word it becomes very difficult to broker any new deals.
The Standards and Practices breakout on appreciative inquiry introduced its five generic processes. We then had an opportunity to view the Academic Senate mission within that framework. Subsequently, the plenary body adopted a new mission statement as follows:
Random: These are not random musings. They may be disorganized, and perhaps incoherent, but they are not random. They are subject to whatever forces and patterns govern anything else I say or do. I suspect my microwave.
The word "random" seems to be evolving. I notice my students using it more often, and less accurately. One student described her roommate, saying she was dating "some random guy." She seemed to be suggesting that perhaps her friend could have selected her date more carefully. Still, despite his faults, the date was not random.
At the 2005 Spring Plenary Session of the Academic Senate, in the spirit of the themes of the Session, show and tell and accountability-one of the many breakouts addressed two perennial concerns of community college faculty. How do we help more of our students to reach their goals? And, how do we prevent them from taking shortcuts by cheating?
At the recent Spring 2005 Plenary Session, the Occupational Education Committee sponsored a breakout titled "The Forgotten Ones: Whom Do You Represent?" The premise for discussion was that often on our campuses, certain programs and services can be left out of campus discussions, because they are unique in their needs, because they are smaller programs or because the representatives at the table are not informed about the variety of program and faculty characteristics across campus.
The Academic Senate's Legislative and Governmental Relations Committee had two opportunities at the Spring Plenary Session to inform attendees of legislative issues affecting faculty-a breakout on legislative activities and a breakout on Senate Bill 5 and its impact on academic freedom.
As the discipline of Counseling runs to keep up with technology and meet the needs of a growing population of students that "come to college" by logging onto the internet, the Counseling and Library Faculty Issues Committee has been contemplating where we are as a system on this matter.
Ironically, it seems that the ability to survey our colleges and to present current information is the most difficult part of the task. As soon as we send out surveys, we hear of changes and find ourselves behind in reporting the activity of the field.