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Academic Senate Newsletter

Wednesday June 2, 2010

President's Update June 2010

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As summer approaches, things are heating up in Sacramento. . .

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As you know, the Governor issued his “May Revise” to the state budget, outlining his priorities. As expected, the tenor of his proposal supports community colleges generally, as he had indicated in previous communiqués and in his original budget proposal. We are getting daily reports from the Capitol about new proposals for modifying the budget and in most cases the ideas are not fully fleshed out.

For example, one is about re-directing 20% of the basic skills budget ($3.8 M) and putting in an incentive pot to reward districts for successes. This proposal, like all the others, is only a proposal and there is there is no reason to assume they will all come to fruition. It does appear that the Senate and Assembly may move to restore the Cal Grants that the Governor proposed slashing, but again, nothing is certain yet.

One proposal that got particular attention recently is one to cut PE and “recreational” courses dramatically. As I understand it, many/most colleges have taken care to reduce the offerings of courses that are deemed “recreational.” The CIOs and Vice Chancellor Barry Russell will be conducting a survey of the CIOs soon, to find out more about the status of PE offerings at colleges. Some folks have indicated that the total offerings of PE are disproportionate (I was told that PE is the third largest FTE area after English and mathematics). As always, the Academic Senate provides important justification for our PE and athletic programs at every opportunity. I understand that colleges will hear more from the Chancellor’s Office in the coming weeks, so keep in touch with your college vice presidents and business officers.

It is expected that additional proposals will surface and will morph, so I hesitate to pass along rumors and uncertainties. . .The budget saga will continue throughout the summer and if you want to follow the details, I recommend you refer to the memos from the Chancellor’s Office (especially those that Vice Chancellor Eric Skinner sends to college budget officers) and the frequent reports from CCLC as well as the FACCC website.

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Kaplan University

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You may have seen that Inside Higher Education just published an article about the MOU with Kaplan. Yesterday I received an inquiry from a local senate president who asked, “Do we have to enter into an agreement with Kaplan?” The response is a resounding, “No,” and the Spring Plenary resolutions make it clear that any decision is local--- but the Academic Senate does not recommend such agreements.

Frontline did an excellent program about for-profit colleges which you can access at <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/collegeinc/>. Senates might want to have a conversation especially involving counselors and student services personnel about your local policies regarding for profit institutions (regarding articulation and providing advice to students about costs).

Speaking of articulation, one Executive Committee member reports that reviewing transcripts of students for course comparability has become especially challenging these days and she recommends that colleges go to the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) site first to verify that an unknown college has status. While discipline faculty are accustomed to reviewing course content on a syllabus for comparability, there is more we need to look for these days, especially with some online institutions. http://www.chea.org/pdf/2009. I noticed on that site they have a link to information about diploma mills and accreditation mills. . . Scary. . .

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Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges

The Consultation Task Group on Accreditation has sent a complaint to the U.S. Dept of Education indicating that ACCJC has not been following their bylaws regarding the appointment of commissioners. It is expected that ACCJC will reply to the concern soon, and we will keep you posted.

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SB 1440 “Transfer Degree”

The bill that calls for colleges to offer an associate degree in a major to students completing GE, 18 units in a major and 60 semester units is moving with a great deal of support through the Legislature. One appropriate concern that has been raised is that the bill gives full responsibility for determining the major or area of emphasis coursework on the CCCs----when it makes more sense if the college discipline faculty work with their counterparts at CSU to determine the best courses. To that end, the Academic Senate is already working with CSU Academic Senate to set up a process for such faculty-to-faculty dialog and agreement. The discussions are just beginning and we will keep you updated along the way. It seems that the logical goal would be for us to encourage transferring students to earn an associate degree at the same time they prepare for transfer, while maintaining the integrity of an associate degree and while ensuring that their courses are the most appropriate and useful ones possible. Click here for more information on SB 1440 "Transfer Degree"

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Summer Surprises

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As I suggested to faculty last summer, we can be guaranteed that budget decisions will need to be made all summer on our campuses----whether faculty and senates are there or not. So senates will want to plan ahead. Here are a few suggestions you might want to consider:

1. Set aside 1-2 dates in the summer for possible senate meetings, which can be cancelled if not needed. Ensure that your senate secretary has summer contact information for senators.

2. Ensure the senate president or designee will attend all board meetings and college/district governance meetings. Discourage the college from cancelling important summer governance meetings, as we know that decisions will occur-----with or without committees, and while we have the structures in place, we need to use them.

3. The best way to deal with summer surprises is to avoid them! If you know what’s going on all the time, there will be no surprise. :-)

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Ongoing Advocacy Needed

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The word in Sacramento is that a great deal of advocacy has been occurring both at the Capitol and in college’s local legislators’ offices. We urge you to join with your college/district efforts to speak to your legislators. The themes we should address:

a) We provide the access to higher education and the vital workforce preparation the state needs.

b) Our affordability remains an asset (including using federal grants, etc.) and keeping fees low is essential.

c) We are innovating and making important improvements in what we do, as evidenced by our basic skills efforts, new assessment opportunities, and efforts to streamline opportunities for students to transfer as well as earn an associate’s degree.

Linked is a chart regarding enrollment demands. It’s an interesting graph to share during advocacy visits.

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In Closing...

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The student senate has planned another rally in Sacramento June 3rd and welcomes everyone to join them. Write to Reid Milburn, student senate president to RSVP or for info. ssenate@cccco.edu.

I send best summer wishes from the Academic Senate. We are open all summer and you can send any questions or comments to info@asccc.org. I hope to see many of you at one of our summer institutes. Here’s to some well-deserved R & R for senate leaders and all faculty!

Jane Patton, President
Academic Senate for California Community Colleges

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