Although the Academic Senate has always held part-time instructors in the highest regard and sought to involve them (including having a part-time liaison who attends the Executive Committee meetings), at the recently held Fall Plenary part-time issues really came to the fore in a number of ways. The Plenary was immediately preceded by the Executive Committee approval of a part-time caucus, which unfortunately came too late for an organized meeting of the caucus during the Plenary. A group of part-time instructors had taken advantage of our new process to create a caucus based on common group interests and goals, the second group caucus to be approved after the LGBT caucus was approved at the previous Executive Committee meeting in October. The caucus idea, engendered by resolution, seems to be quite timely and should have the hoped for impact of encouraging diversity at the state senate level while at the same time allowing input from a cross section of special interest groups. The creation of the part-time caucus provided a serendipitous nexus for a part-time issues breakout, two resolutions focused on part-time issues and one instituting a part-time faculty of the year award.
The part-time issues breakout organized by the Academic Senate Faculty Development Committee was very well attended by both full- and part-time faculty and featured an appearance by Vice Chancellor of Academic Services Barry Russell, evidence of the fact that the state Chancellor’s Office recognizes the important role that part-time faculty play in the California Community College System. It was gratifying to see how many full-time faculty showed up to support their part-time colleagues. Among other things, we discussed how the Academic Senate can reach out to part-time faculty to provide the kind of interaction that can enhance their teaching and provide the leadership, empowerment and voice that is the Academic Senate credo. Suggestions from the attendees ranged from making available a part-time space on the new web site to conducting a survey to ascertain the extent of part-time participation on local senates in terms of voting rights, compensation and executive committee opportunities. Some attendees later in the session got together to create resolutions to advance the issues we discussed. The sentiment was expressed that having some examples of good practices from some select senates could very well encourage other local senates to follow suit to make part-time faculty a more integral part of their process and deliberations. Some of the part-time faculty present received modest compensation for attending senate meetings and others were afforded the opportunity to be on their senate executive committees. Considering the proportion of part- to full-time faculty and the difficulty for part-time faculty to attend meetings when many teach on several campuses, these seem appropriate and necessary practices. We also discussed providing webinars, office sharing, an Academic Senate faculty award and support for applying for full-time jobs. All three part-time resolutions were passed resoundingly with only a smattering of nay votes. Again it was gratifying to see that the vast majority of those present, most of whom are full-time faculty, value and appreciate our part-time colleagues and recognize the essential role they play on our campuses.
Resolution 13.05 F10 “Providing Part-time Faculty with Adequate Resources and Support” passed with one resolve that states:
Resolved, That the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges work with its educational partners to advocate for a level of resources and support for part-time faculty that can maintain an adequate teaching environment for them and learning environment for our community college students.
Resolution 13.09 F10 “Best Practices: Integrating Part-time Faculty into Shared-Governance” was approved with two resolves:
Resolved, That the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges administer a comprehensive survey soliciting quantitative and qualitative information about local senates’ by-laws and best practices regarding the recruitment, encouragement, and inclusion of part-time faculty in the voice of the academic senate through such means as local senate executive committee participation, department representation, compensation, voting or non-voting status, and inclusion on senate and local committees; and
Resolved, That the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges compile and disseminate information regarding participation of part-time faculty via a paper, Rostrum articles, or other appropriate venues, and report on the progress of the resolution at the 2011 Fall Plenary Session.
And the third part-time resolution, 1.05 F10 “Creation of a Part-Time Faculty Member of the Year Award” was approved with the following resolve:
Resolved, That the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges create a yearly award for a part-time faculty member that recognizes excellence in teaching and outstanding contributions to the campus environment and to student success and that the award amount and presentation be consistent with other comparable faculty awards given by the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges.
You can see from these three approved resolutions that the Academic Senate recognizes the challenges that part-time instructors face in maintaining an effective teaching environment with budgets shrinking all around us and also the need to incorporate part-time faculty voices effectively within their local senates and shared governance processes on their campuses. An award designated specifically for a part-time instructor of the year exemplifies how much the Senate (and all of us) value the contributions of our part-time colleagues. We could not do it without you! Indeed, Leadership, Empowerment, Voice are three necessary ingredients for ALL faculty to work together effectively to provide students with the kind of success that will advance their worthwhile goals.