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Academic Senate Newsletter

Tuesday October 27, 2009

Have You Registered?

I doubt anyone can say we have had a routine start to this academic year. Most of us have found these times to be especially challenging – on every level: in the classroom when we turn away students, in our departments as we’ve cut our class schedules, and in governance meetings where difficult decisions are being made. You will have lots of company to compare notes with at our pre-session area meetings and at the Fall Plenary session! I hope you are registered for the Session and that you are holding local discussions of the very important resolutions in preparation for the voting. During this time of budget challenges, we need to stick together more than ever. Because our adopted resolutions become the official positions of the Academic Senate, the involvement of local senates is critical, and your college delegates carry the local views to the statewide Plenary Sessions.

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Defining the AA and AS Degrees

You might recall in Spring 2008 we passed resolution 9.06 which called for clear definitions of the AA versus the AS degrees. (AS = an associate degree in the areas of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) or in the area of career technical education (CTE), with all other associate degrees given the title of Associate of Arts). Our recommendation eventually went to the Board of Governors (BoG), where it was approved. In theory, at that point, things should have proceeded rather simply to make the Title 5 change. However, the Department of Finance (DoF) has held up the implementation, indicating potential cost implications. The Chancellor’s Office and the Senate will continue to try to move this position along; in the meantime, colleges may choose to make these changes on their own, and some already have done so. This is reminiscent of the Academic Senate’s position on Information Competency, which was also approved by the BoG but stopped by DoF. Many colleges proceeded on their own.

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Colleges across the state have experienced unprecedented enrollment at the same time as they have had to reduce class offerings. Students have felt the pain as have college administrators, staff and faculty, who have had to make budget cuts in many of their accounts. From all reports, we should also expect further mid-year reductions.

As you try to keep up with the budget news and in particular the effects on our categorical programs and the federal ARRA dollars, I have found the FACCC website to be an excellent resource. Their newsletter said, “FACCC has posted a memo and two spreadsheets showing the allocation by district of categorical programs and federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds. The first spreadsheet lists the distribution of ‘unprotected’ categoricals with the second, showing the ‘protected’ ones. Local trustee boards have the authority to move funds from ‘unprotected’ programs to any other categorical, but not to the districts' General Fund. No such authority exists for ‘protected’ programs.” You can view the memo and spreadsheets online at www.faccc.org.

ALERT – pay attention to when your ARRA funds arrive. The guidelines indicate the funds must be spent within three days of receipt. Your CBOs have received the guidelines. For more information, please see the email you were sent from julie@asccc.org on October 26, 2009.

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Prerequisite Pilot Project

The curriculum committee is presently setting up a Prerequisite Pilot Project Task Force in response to resolution 9.03 S09. The aim is to pilot a process whereby local faculty may apply a mathematics or writing prerequisite on a GE area based solely on content review. This group is being led by the Senate’s Curriculum Committee and will include representatives from faculty, administration and the Chancellor’s Office.

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Do You Have an Academic Integrity Policy?

In Fall 2008 we passed resolution 13.03 which asked the Academic Senate “to collect from California community colleges local policies and practices relating to academic integrity and make them available in an academic integrity resource library.” We have collected some but not enough, so we ask you for a copy of your local policy. If your college has a student honesty policy, would you either send the document or the link to the Educational Policies Committee chair, Michelle Pilati, at MPilati@riohondo.edu.

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Basic Skills

The faculty development portion of the Basic Skills Initiative (BSI) that operates out of the Academic Senate has held four regional workshops this fall, which have been a big success. Under the capable leadership of Kathy Molloy (Santa Barbara) and her very enthusiastic workshop coordinators, and with support from Julie Adams and the Academic Senate, close to 700 faculty and administrators attended one of four regional meetings where the theme was "Maintaining and Enhancing Student Success in Difficult Times: Sustainable, Low-Cost Classroom Practices ." It is critical that we find ways to ensure the work that colleges began with their locally developed plans are sustained and that we find ways to continuously strengthen how we teach and serve students.

In addition, the BSI Network Coordinators are in the process of developing an online resource of people who have made successful presentations over the last few years, so that if other colleges would like to use them for local workshops, they will have the information. Watch for upcoming announcements as the online resource is targeted to be ready in January.

Our congratulations and thanks to those who planned these events and to the college teams who came to the workshops ready to develop strategies to sustain the statewide efforts to improve how we do things for our basic skills learners.

As a result of our BSI work, the Academic Senate has helped form a California chapter of a national organization: the Association for Developmental Education (acronym “CalADE") and we encourage you and others on campus to join. Membership is only $20. For information please contact Julie Adams at julie@asccc.org.

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Plenary Session

We have lined up a dynamic array of keynote speakers for Plenary Session : Rachel Levinson, Senior Counsel from the American Association for University Professors (AAUP) will address the issues around and status of academic freedom in higher education. Jonathan Lightman, Executive Director of the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges (FACCC), and Scott Lay, the President/CEO of the Community College League of California (CCLC), which represents college presidents, chancellors and trustees will join me in an interactive panel discussion about the state of the community colleges. And given the increasing need for faculty in their classroom and governance activities to take advantage of the best possible research information, Gregory Stoup, the Director of Research at Cañada College, will speak to us about the faculty role in institutional research.

As you would imagine, the Executive Committee and our committees have planned discussions and debates on such challenging topics as the 50% law, student support services, prerequisites, accreditation, SLOs, diversity, minimum qualifications, transfer and articulation, local graduation requirements, governance, basic skills, etc. We are certain you will leave feeling more informed and empowered as a college leader!

If you have not registered for the Fall 2009 Plenary Session, it isn't too late!  Click to Register.

Jane Patton

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