For the Academic Senate, the late summer is a period of intensive planning. The first meeting of the academic year is held in mid-August, by which time members of the Executive Committee have been assigned the chair-ship of a major committee or task force, and is responsible for producing a "work plan" in the form of a set of goals and objectives for the coming year. Each chair bases his or her plan on the annual report from last year's committee, on resolution assignments from plenary sessions (many resolutions are given to specific committees to carry out), and on discussions with the president about priorities for the year ahead. To see a list of this year's chairs please visit our website.
For this first issue of the Rostrum of the new academic year, we have asked a sampling of committee chairs to give you the highlights of what their committees will be doing in the coming months.
Of course, as president, I too chair a committee, the Executive Committee, and it seemed to me that the Executive Committee, too, should have a strategic plan for the purpose of giving added focus to our work, and enabling us to see that-and how-we are all contributing to a common endeavor. Formulating the plan was also an occasion for me, as new president, to indicate my priorities for the year, and to seek consensus on, and development and expansion of those. That process has now been completed, so let me share some of the highlights with you. (The entire plan can be viewed on our website, http://www.academicsenate.cc.ca.us.)
In thinking of our goals, we tried to identify, in the most general terms, what we think the Academic Senate does. We came up with the following four:
I. Strengthen local senates;
II. Provide resources to local senates;
III. Create, maintain, and protect policy;
IV. Serve to quicken the conscience of the Community College System.
While number four seems a bit grandiose, and one and two seem to overlap, we felt that our meaning would be clear through the specification of objectives and action plans related to each goal.
Under the first, "Strengthen Local Senates," I think the most exciting objective is to "tighten the bond between the Academic Senate and local senates," which we intend to do by sending Executive Committee members to the field to visit local senate meetings. Because there are so many colleges, and so few Executive Committee members, their efforts will be augmented by members of the Relations with Local Senates Committee. The purpose of the visits is to provide a point of personal contact that will open the door to further interaction between the Academic Senate and the local senates at whatever level is most useful to the local senates. We have set the very ambitious goal of reaching all 108 colleges by next June, so, local senate presidents, listen up for a phone call.
Under the goal, "Provide Resources to Local Senates," falls the objective of completing and bringing forward for adoption the many papers we have in the works. Among these this year are papers on Part-time Faculty Issues, Information Competency, Planning and Budgeting, Faculty Ethics, and the Workforce Investment Act. Another objective under this goal is to increase the relevance and effectiveness of our many institutes, and to explore the feasibility of adding a Teaching Institute, as called for by Resolution 12.02 from the Spring 2001 Plenary Session.
Under "Create, Maintain, and Protect Policy," a significant objective is to carry forward the important work on faculty development begun under Linda Collins. To this end, the Executive Committee will introduce a resolution at Fall Session calling for the development of a paper on best practices in the light of Norton Grubb's critique in Honored but Invisible: An Inside Look at Community College Teaching. We also hope to explore the relationship between faculty evaluations and a strong faculty development program.
Finally, under our rather turgid goal, "Serve to Quicken the Conscience of the Community College System," we have identified the objective, to "seek equity for California community college students," and with that, two very important action plans. The first is the development, under a grant from the Chancellor's Office, of a Student Equity Handbook. You may know that Title 5 requires each college district to have a student equity plan on file with the Chancellor's Office-yet there is no requirement that the plan be adhered to and, consequently, no oversight in this regard. The Academic Senate hopes to ameliorate this situation by providing solid guidelines to help colleges fulfill the promise that every student who comes to our doors will have the maximal opportunity to achieve his or her educational goals.
The second action plan is to "seek to assure equal educational opportunity for community college students by calling for a change in the current funding pattern for the three public higher education segments." The current pattern, we maintain, systematically discriminates against community college students, and we would change the arena of discourse on this issue from the purely fiscal to the moral as well. The lead article in this copy of the Rostrum constitutes an opening salvo on this front.
At our Summer Leadership Institutes, we regularly emphasize to participants the importance of strategic planning for local senates. It is a critical strategy for achieving and maintaining one's focus, it provides benchmarks for one's success, and the collaborative development and publication of the plan keeps one accountable to one's constituents. I hope you're reassured to know that, at the statewide level, we're practicing what we preach.