An Academic Senate Foundation-Why?

Executive Director

As the Academic Senate celebrates its 40th anniversary, the Senate enters into a new era. The 40 years of the Senate's existence has marked an incredible journey. When you think about the Academic Senate, many of you might think about the role the Senate plays in academic and professional matters. Some of you might also consider us an organization that provides professional development such as in our many initiatives, institutes, and other events. You might even think about the work we do for the disciplines including directing the disciplines list revision process. However, I would bet that most of you do not think about the tax code of the Senate. Why is this important?

Well, the tax code is important because it dictates how the Senate receives funding to continue the good work that it does. Since 1969, the Academic Senate has been a 501(c)(6)-IRS code for trade organizations. This designation allows the Senate to take advantage of tax benefits as we serve the faculty on our 110 California community colleges. Over the past 40 years, this tax code has been sufficient. Recently, however, there have been two situations that have caused the Executive Committee to consider different funding opportunities for the financial stability of the Senate.

The Academic Senate is funded by the Governor in his annual budget. In 2003, the Senate's budget was reduced by $30,000. While other categorical budget items were restored, the Senate was not. We have struggled to maintain our low registration rates for all our events in spite of the increases in costs associated with holding them. This year, the Governor again has threatened to reduce the Academic Senate's budget-this year by $60,000. While the Senate's budget was not cut in this fiscal year, the Academic Senate's Budget Committee has begun to plan for the worst and seek other opportunities for funding so we can continue to provide low cost professional development events.

The second situation is related to our activities on two initiatives. As many of you know, for the past two years the Senate has directed the Chancellor's Office grant funded professional development activities in addressing basic skills needs (the Basic Skills In addition, the Senate is working with the Chancellor's Office, California Department of Education and other organizations in a project to strengthen articulation with community colleges and high schools (Statewide Career Pathways: Creating School to College Articulation- statewidepathways. org). Both of these projects have afforded the Senate an opportunity to build relationships across segments and among organizations. In these past two years, the Senate has been approached by nonprofit charitable organizations about creating additional partnerships to leverage funds to continue the good work that we are doing in a number of areas. However, since the Senate is a 501(c)(6) and not a charitable organization (501(c)(3)), the other charitable organizations cannot grant money to the Senate.

In response to these two situations, the Executive Committee has formed a nonprofit charitable organization-The Foundation of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. The purposes of the Foundation are to benefit, support, and enhance the excellence of California community colleges; to support, design and implement professional development for California community college faculty; to research, develop and communicate effective practices to promote effective teaching and learning in the California community colleges; and to promote a variety of activities and strategies to advance teaching and learning. The Board will be comprised of three Executive Committee members, two additional faculty members, and the Academic Senate's Executive Director (ex officio). We are beginning to develop the operating procedures to appoint a board and begin the Foundation's work. If you are interested in serving on the Foundation board, please watch our website for announcements. The Executive Committee believes that the Foundation will provide new opportunities for the Senate to serve you-the faculty.