About Senates in California Community Colleges
History of the Academic Senate in California
In 1963, an Assembly Concurrent Resolution asked the State Board of Education (which at that time had a junior college bureau) to establish academic senates “…for the purposes of representing [faculty] in the formation of policy on academic and professional matters …” While there were at the time local academic senates, this resolution gave senates legal recognition and a specific jurisdiction—academic and professional matters. In 1967, legislation was enacted to create the Board of Governors and the Chancellor’s Office for the California Community Colleges.
In 1968 Norbert Bischof (Math and Philosophy, Merritt College), called the first statewide meeting of local academic senate presidents to explore ways to create a state senate to represent local senates at the Chancellor’s Office and before the Board of Governors. A constitution was drafted in May 1968, ratified statewide, and approved by the Board of Governors in October 1969; the Academic Senate incorporated as a nonprofit organization in November 1970.
What is AB 1725, and why is it important?
In 1986, the Commission for the Review of the Master Plan for Higher Education issued a report focusing exclusively on the community colleges. This document, The Challenge of Change: A Reassessment of the California Community College, led the way for the great reform legislation, AB 1725. Passed by the legislature in 1988, AB 1725 gave many new responsibilities to both local senates and the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, among them being:
- Creating the focus for CCCs on transferring students to universities
- Shifting the power of governance from the legislature to local boards
- Involving faculty directly in matters of hiring and participatory governance, and creating areas of responsibilities known as the 10+1
- Instilling the 75:25 ratio of full-time to part-time instructors, creating a calculation known as the Faculty Obligation Number, or FON
- Creation of funding models (which have undergone much revision since inception)
In 1989, the document California’s Faces, California’s Future supported this community college reform and contextualized the Master Plan within California’s shifting demography. The legislation resulted in the July 1990 adoption of Title 5 Regulations, “Strengthening Local Senates.” In 1992, the Academic Senate and the trustee’s organization the Community College League of California (CCLC), issued a Memorandum of Understanding that offers a joint interpretation of the Title 5 regulations.
AB 1725 is therefore the root of the way the academic senate operates today.
What are the 10+1?
Since faculty are directly involved in participatory governance matters per AB 1725, these matters are delineated into the 11 agreed-upon areas of responsibility that faculty are charged with. This agreement means that faculty undertake these duties as part of their faculty obligation. These areas are, specifically:
- Curriculum, including establishing prerequisites and placing courses within disciplines
- Degree and certificate requirements
- Grading policies
- Educational program development
- Standards or policies regarding student preparation and success
- District and college governance structures, as related to faculty roles
- Faculty roles and involvement in accreditation processes, including self-study and annual reports
- policies for faculty professional development activities
- Processes for program review
- Processes for institutional planning and budget development
- Other academic and professional matters as are mutually agreed upon between the governing board and the academic senate
How does information flow to and from the Academic Senate?
Communication to Faculty:
The Academic Senate is a public governing body that is bound to the Brown Act, which governs the operation of open meetings. The Brown Act stipulates that agendas of all open meetings be posted 72 hours in advance of the meeting. Likewise, information comes from the State Chancellor's Office (CCCCO), the ASCCC, and other sources on a regular basis. Therefore, local Academic Senate leadership frequently send out electronic and hard copy communications to all faculty to keep them informed.
Sharing/Informing the Work of the Senate:
Each Skyline College division has a representative on the Academic Senate whose job it is to receive and disseminate information to and from the division. Your senate representative should give a report at every division meeting on what the Senate is working on. Your senate rep should ask from time time how faculty wish him/her to vote on matters of importance. Likewise, if you have concerns that you think should be voiced, your rep is that voice. All faculty are always welcome to attend a senate meeting, but only representatives and officers may vote.
Academic Senate's minutes and agendas are always posted online in draft and final form. Materials and links presented at the meetings are also posted. In addition, the senate maintains a page of links to state resources and articles of interest.
The president and vice president of the local Academic Senate serve on the College Governance Council, the primary governance body on Skyline College Campus. In addition, the president of the local Academic Senate serves on the District Strategic Planning Council,District Participatory Governance Council, District Academic Senate, and Skyline College Strategic Planning and Resource Allocation Committee (SPARC).