A Focus on History: Preserving the Heritage and Memories of the ASCCC

ASCCC Past President

In spring of 2013, the Academic Senate Executive Committee approved a project to record and preserve the ASCCC’s history.  For a variety of reasons, this project has had to be slowed or postponed several times since that approval.  However, in 2016-17 the project has been revitalized and is making progress toward producing a number of valuable results.

As a past president of the ASCCC, and as a person deeply interested in and proud of the history of the organization, I agreed to chair the task force that would pursue this project.  I had been the original chair of a similar task force in 2013 but had passed the project to former Academic Senate Executive Committee member Lesley Kawaguchi when I became ASCCC president.  Working as best was possible on an effort that could not be prioritized for two years, Lesley continued to gather information and kept the idea of the project alive, and she later agreed to remain on the latest incarnation of the task force.  A number of other individuals with a similar commitment to the Academic Senate and the heritage of faculty leadership in the California community colleges also accepted invitations to serve on the current task force:

  • Julie Adams, ASCCC Executive Director
  • Jane Patton, former ASCCC President
  • Paul Setziol, former ASCCC Executive Committee member
  • Dan Crump, former ASCCC Executive Committee member
  • Rich Hansen, De Anza College faculty member and longtime statewide faculty leader
  • Cynthia Napoli-Abella Reiss, West Valley College faculty member
  • Christina Gold, El Camino College faculty member
  • Eric Narveson, Evergreen Valley College faculty member

This task force has met both in person and by conference call to build on the work that Lesley Kawaguchi was able to complete in the past two years and to move the project forward toward completion. 

The project involves a number of different aspects, including the creation of a printed history of the ASCCC, an online resource through which the Academic Senate’s historical documents can be accessed, and possible presentations at ASCCC events and other efforts to publicize the organization’s history.  In addition, the Academic Senate Executive Committee has also approved the creation of a compilation of the most significant and lasting Rostrum articles that will be published separately from the history project materials.

Printed History of the ASCCC Volume

The primary focus of the task force thus far has been the creation of a printed volume regarding the history of the Academic Senate. Building on the work that had been done by previous incarnations of the task force, the current group has combed through multiple years of ASCCC annual reports, monthly president’s reports, and plenary programs to identify the most significant themes, issues, and events in the Academic Senate’s history.  The plan is to build the printed history around these important themes and issues, working through each in a roughly chronological order.

Among the most important themes identified to date are the following:

  • The development of the Senate’s role and function, especially the evolution of the ASCCC from a provider of updates and information to becoming more activist;
  • The increasing ASCCC leadership role in statewide initiatives such as IMPAC, C-ID, and others, including proving to our partners such as the Chancellor’s Office and the university systems that we were up to the task of leading;
  • The organization and operation of the ASCCC, including the budget, structure, office and staff situations, publications, and communication with local senates;
  • The ASCCC’s relationship with FACCC, including FACCC’s role in the creation of the Senate and in helping to define faculty purview;
  • Legislation and other external attempts to change the community colleges;
  • Funding issues in multiple different forms;
  • Enrollment issues, including enrollment management, program discontinuance, and “free flow” of students from one district to another;
  • Intersegmental issues, including articulation with the university systems, the creation of the Intersegmental Committee of Academic Senates, the development of the IGETC transfer plan, and the development of C-ID and the associate degrees for transfer;
  • The promotion of academic standards and defending the quality of our instruction;
  • Technology in a wide variety of forms.

The task force will continue to research and compile information on these and other major themes through a variety of documents and other written and recorded resources.

In order to collect greater detail on these themes and issues, the task force will solicit input and comments from a large number of individuals who experienced them directly.  The task force has complied an extensive list of possible contributors to interview, including all living past ASCCC presidents, numerous former Executive Committee members and longtime plenary session attendees, former system chancellors and vice-chancellors, past and current leaders of other statewide community college organizations, and former faculty representatives on the Board of Governors.  The first step in collecting information from these valuable resources will be a questionnaire that solicits both their general input and comments on the specific issues with which they were involved, with follow-up interviews to gather more detail where appropriate.

The task force has set a goal for publication of this history in Spring 2019, which will mark the 50th anniversary of the first statewide meeting of the ASCCC. The task force also plans an in-depth presentation on the progress of the project for the Spring 2018 Plenary Session. 

Online ASCCC History Resource

Another component of the project is the creation of an online repository of resources related to the history of the ASCCC.  These resources may include existing documents and other materials, such as the Academic Senate’s annual reports that were published from 1976-77 to 1992-93.  The ASCCC office also has a large collection of photographs, plenary session programs, resolutions, and other materials from throughout the Senate’s history, as well as recorded materials such as an interview with ASCCC founder Norbert Bischof.  More recent materials could also be included, such as De Anza College President Brian Murphy’s presentation on the history of the Community College System at the Fall 2016 Plenary Session.  In addition, the history project may create other valuable materials that can be added to the online collection, including transcripts or recordings of interviews related to the project.  Discussion has begun regarding the creation of the online repository, but no specific date for its release has yet been set.

Publicizing Our History

The goals of the history project involve not only compiling and publishing information on the heritage of the ASCCC but also publicizing it.  This aspect of the project may involve presentations at Academic Senate plenary sessions, the annual Faculty Leadership Institute, and other events.  Another possibility could include periodic Rostrum articles regarding specific aspects of the ASCCC’s history.  The task force will entertain possibilities for publicizing the materials it develops as the creation of those materials advances.

The Rostrum Compilation

An additional effort that is partially designed to highlight aspects of the ASCCC’s history is the publication of a volume that will include significant articles featured in the Rostrum during its more than 30 years of publication.  The Rostrum collection is not directly connected to the history project but was instead approved separately by the Academic Senate Executive Committee in 2015. 

While the Rostrum has always contained articles that provide updates and information on current events and state-level issues such as the yearly budget, new initiatives, legislation, or regulation implementation, it has also included items that offer more lasting guidance and advice or philosophical analysis of issues that remain relevant even after the immediate subject of their focus has passed.  These articles are the sort that will be included in the Rostrum compilation.  The intent is to create a collection generally similar to the American Association of University Professors’ Policy Documents & Reports publication, also known as the “AAUP Red Book.”

In addition, the compilation will contain several articles of primarily historical significance, such as one from the very first issue of the Rostrum in Fall of 1984 and others that deal with the sweeping changes brought on by AB 1725 (Vasconcellos, 1988) as that landmark legislation was being developed and implemented.

While no specific date for release of the Rostum compilation has been set, the project is nearing completion, as the content of the collection has been approved and is currently being prepared for publication.

The ASCCC hopes that the history project and the Rostrum compilation will serve multiple purposes.  These resources will help to inform faculty and others throughout the state regarding what the Academic Senate has done, what issues the organization has addressed, and how its priorities and positions came to be what they are today.  They may also in many cases provide context and advice for local senate discussions of issues that arise on their campuses.  Finally, these efforts to preserve and publish the ASCCC’s history should inspire pride in faculty around the state regarding the Academic Senate’s fifty years of commitment to and success in representing the voice of faculty and the interests of the community college system and the students we serve.