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Academic Senate Newsletter

Tuesday February 18, 2014

President's Update

Beth Smith
Grossmont College

Dear Senate Presidents,

Happy February! Winter and spring terms are well underway, and the Executive Committee is busy preparing for Spring Plenary, our institutes, and separate regional meetings on curriculum and CTE topics. Area meetings are next month and thank you to Modesto, Las Positas, Mt. SAC, and MiraCosta for hosting the Area meetings!  We couldn't do our work without you. Please check the Senate's website for more information about all the activities going on this spring. 

Spring Plenary - Once again this spring faculty leaders will meet at the SFO Westin for the Senate's Spring Plenary Session, April 10-12.  Our theme is "Academic Excellence: Strengthening Our Core." The focus on academic excellence and quality is timely and necessary as we face continued pressure from policy makers to streamline education and count the completers at the end of some amount of time at our colleges. Faculty need to keep shining the light on the need for full time faculty as we begin to restore classes and meet the needs of students in counseling offices and libraries, and ensure that "access" means access to more full time faculty.  We have excellent speakers on tap for our general sessions, and the Senate's committees and task forces are preparing breakout sessions on all the relevant topics of the day. Spring session is always extra busy because we elect the members of the Executive Committee at that time. We encourage all interested individuals to run for one of the openings on the Exec and continue to use the knowledge and skills you've developed as a local leader at the state level.

New Brown Act Rule - The new requirements for reporting under the Brown Act are causing concern around the state for academic senates, and rightfully so. Most legislative bodies are not the size of a local senate, and reporting "the vote or abstention" of each faculty senator in attendance may be challenging for our larger senates. The state Academic Senate does not give legal advice, and we encourage local senates to seek counsel from your local district legal counsel. For faculty who want to be creative, clickers and other technology might help meet the intent of the law and still allow meetings to proceed with little disruption, but the best first step is to seek legal advice:

Gov. Code ยง54953(c)(2)

(c) (2) The legislative body of a local agency shall publicly report any action taken and the vote or abstention on that action of each member present for the action.

Legislative Briefing Prepared by Faculty - Academic Senate leaders from UC, CSU and CCCs prepared and delivered our first legislative briefing to a standing room only crowd on the topic of online education. Faculty demonstrated their online classes and gave important facts about the quality of online instruction as practiced by California's public institutions of higher education, and students commented on their experiences and interests in online education. The information was well received and cleared up many questions about what the segments have done and are doing to improve these class offerings for students. Because the briefing was so successful, ICAS will consider whether to plan more of these events where we will be able to bring our messages to more policy makers in the Capitol.

California Open Educational Resource Council (COERC) - In 2012, the legislature passed SB 1052 which requires the UC, CSU and CCC faculty senates to create the COERC to review OER textbooks for inclusion in a digital library managed by CSU.  Funding was finally secured in November of 2013 through private and public contributions. Each Academic Senate appoints three voting members of the council, and as of the end of January, the council is up and running. A project coordinator was selected by the three senate chairs, and you will be able to find information about the council on the Intersegmental Committee of Academic Senates (ICAS) webpage soon. The legislation requires the council to identify 50 courses for which OER textbooks and materials will be added to a new digital library managed by CSU, and criteria for review of the texts will be determined in the next few months.  The three student organizations of the UC, CSU and CCC will also be engaged in the process. This project has the potential to save students money on the cost of textbooks in the future, so the students are very interested to see how the project progresses.  Watch for more opportunities to be involved or adopt these texts in the future.

A2Mend - As colleges study success data and see achievement gaps by age, gender or ethnicity, you may want resources or ideas about how to address the gaps. A2Mend is an organization that focuses on African American males, and you can learn about serving this population of students from this organization. Leaders from several statewide organizations were invited to an information exchange where communication about each organization's efforts in the state were shared, and A2Mend offered us information about its conference. As you know, the Senate works with many partners and organizations, each striving to make a difference for educators and learners. I'll highlight other organizations in the future as we expand our network around the state.

Partnerships Producing Results - And speaking of partners, constant outreach and support to and from many groups in the state continues to produce results for the Senate. Our relationship with the Chancellor's Office has never been better as trust and collegiality guide our work. My vision as your president has been to build partnerships with higher education leaders, vice chancellors, chief officers of organizations, foundations, and the Chancellor himself in broadening the influence and contributions of the Senate. These partnerships are remarkable because the Senate has often been seen as a competitor or as a separate entity rather than as an integral member of the education systems in the state making this new level of consultation even more important for us.  Now the Senate is seen as a regular partner for finding solutions to challenges that arise instead of being sidelined. This new philosophy for the Senate is playing out in small productive steps and a big result of these partnerships will be revealed in March. Stay tuned for more information at Area meetings and at plenary.

Accreditation Institute - The Senate partnered with ACCJC and CCLC to produce the 2014 Accreditation Institute held in San Diego. The room was filled beyond capacity with administrators and faculty learning about the new standards and requirements.  We strongly encourage you to review the proposed standards and submit your comments and edits through your college president.  There are excellent resources on the Senate's webpage from the event, and although Barbara Beno did not join us during the institute, her presentation on accreditation and data was suggested as an excellent resource: http://www.cair.org/conferences/CAIR2013/pres/76_Beno.pdf

We celebrated as Cuesta, Redwoods, Sequoias, and Modesto were either removed from sanction or placed on a reduced level of sanction. Many congratulations to those colleges for all the hard work to improve their institutions for students. And my thanks to all the senate leaders from the colleges because real change only occurs when faculty are engaged in the solutions.

Part Time Survey - In case you didn't see it, this survey of salaries and other aspects of part time faculty work in the community colleges may be useful for your senate or union matters. Click here to access this document.

My travels take me to all parts of the state to see the great work you do for students and how you strive to ensure that local governance structures allow the senate to participate fully in recommending policies and practices in all 10+1 areas.  If you need any assistance from us or have any questions regarding local or state issues, please don't hesitate to contact me directly at (619) 249-3114.


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