How can local senates improve communication with their faculty, students, management, the state senate, and local boards? This was one of the topics discussed at "Nuts and Bolts II," a breakout session during the 30th Fall Session of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, which took place in Los Angeles on October 29-31, 1998.
Several ideas were presented by Carolyn Seefer, a business communications instructor at Diablo Valley College and member of the Publications Committee. These include (1) print methods (newsletters, memos, etc.); (2) email; (3) phone (voice mail, phone trees, etc.); (4) face-to-face meetings; (5) presentations and workshops; (6) web pages; (7) listservs/mailing lists; and (8) teleconferencing/videoconferencing. With technology so readily available today, it is imperative that local senates use it to improve communication with their constituents.
One highly recommended method is for each local senate to develop a web page which can be accessed by all constituents. In order for a web page to be effective, designers must remember the following: (1) the simpler the better; (2) limit graphics to allow for faster downloading and access; (3) include only essential links; (4) keep the page updated regularly; and (5) make the address known to faculty, students, and all other constituents. For a good example of a local senate web page, visit http://www.dvc.edu/faculty_senate.
Another method to improve communications is for local senates to regularly contribute articles and items of interest to The Rostrum. Suggestions for items to submit include (1) classroom innovations; (2) new senate officers; (3) awards and achievements; (4) enrollment management; (5) welfare reform; (6) flexible scheduling/calendar changes; (7) shared governance (agreements, disputes); (8) technology (hardware, online courses, etc.); and (9) administrative turnovers. Articles can be Emailed to Hoke Simpson, chair of the Publications Committee, at hsimpson [at] mail.gcccd.cc.ca.us.
Attendees at the breakout session also shared their communication ideas. These included (1) sending highlights of senate meeting minutes to faculty immediately after each meeting; (2) posting senate meeting minutes on senate web page; (3) sending out an email question about a current topic to all faculty periodically and compiling the results for an article; and (4) placing a list of all committees and members on a senate web page.
Open communication will benefit us all. Please let The Rostrum know what is working on.