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From the President’s Desk: Governance in the New Normal

ASCCC President

As faculty are returning to their classrooms, meetings, and other activities, the most consistent two refrains the ASCCC has been hearing are “we’re so happy to be back” and “we’re exhausted.” Faculty are facing a lot right now, and so, first, thank you.  Thank you for all you have done over the past eighteen months from the start of the shut down, and thank you for all you continue to do for your colleges, your colleagues, and most importantly, your students. While some light is beginning to appear at the end of the tunnel—and hopefully not a train—some significant challenges are still facing faculty leaders throughout the system.

First, and perhaps most pressing, is the return to campus and what roles faculty are expected to play.  To be clear, the colleges are not re-opening; they never closed.  Instead, campuses are beginning to offer in-person classes, with many at varying levels of implementation. In a poll that the ASCCC conducted at the beginning of the fall term, colleges reported returns to campus ranging from 20% to 80% of classes in person.  At some colleges, local academic senates have been asked to participate in discussions regarding the return to campus, including questions around what percentage of classes should be back in face-to-face format, whether specific disciplines should be allowed back before others, the roles that faculty should play in the cases of vaccine or mask requirements, and what role faculty can play in terms of enrollment management.  At other campuses, this discussion has been entirely between collective bargaining units and the administration.  As with so many activities on college campuses, this decision is largely a matter of local preference, and, while the ASCCC has not taken an official position on the role of local academic senates in these dialogues, student preparation and success do fall within the academic and professional matters listed as the academic senate’s purview under Title 5 §53200, and thus involving the academic senate in these discussions is certainly appropriate.

At the recent California Community College Association of Occupational Educators conference, many administrators and faculty spoke of the challenges of remaining on campus following the start of the pandemic and lessons learned through those experiences.  At many campuses, CTE faculty were the first to return to in-person instruction, and thus they can be valuable resources about what is needed or can be done to ensure that a return to in-person classes is done safely and meets the pedagogical requirements of each discipline. 

A second issue regards in-person meetings on campuses.  Most faculty leaders are aware that the governor signed AB 361 (R. Rivas, 2021), which extended provisions that allowed for suspension of portions of the Brown Act through January 2022.  Many district governing boards have elected to return to in-person meetings. As of this writing, the Board of Governors has not announced the format for its November 2021 meeting, as AB 361 also extended provisions for the Bagley-Keene Act, which is the open meetings act that the Board of Governors must follow.  Local academic senates—as well as their committees including curriculum, program review, and others—fall under the Brown Act and need to follow the provisions of the act to remain in compliance.  For more specific information about the Brown Act and local academic senate responsibilities under the act, please review the Powerpoint that was used at the Faculty Leadership Institute in June, 2021, which is available at https://asccc.org/content/general-session-3-brown-act.

The final, and perhaps most long-term piece that is being discussed on campuses, are efforts around diversity, equity, and inclusion.  The Chancellor’s Office’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Implementation Workgroup is in the last few months of its work, and faculty will hear about some of their efforts at the Fall Plenary Session as well as system webinars and other events taking place throughout the year.  A focus on the ASCCC work in this area has been around evaluations: not just tenure evaluation, as was the original focus of the plan, but an examination of the evaluation processes of all district personnel on college campuses and in local districts. California Education Code §87663(f) states, “In those districts where faculty evaluation procedures are collectively bargained, the faculty’s exclusive representative shall consult with the academic senate prior to engaging in collective bargaining regarding those procedures.”  However, districts are made up of more than just faculty, and if DEI efforts are going to be successful, then all people employed at the colleges need to be engaged in the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

In addition to the work of the DEI Implementation Workgroup, work is also being undertaken in the Chancellor’s Office’s Equal Employment Opportunity Advisory Committee to revise the EEO and Diversity Best Practices Handbook, which was originally published in 2016.  The expectation is that the new handbook, which should be available in spring 2022, will provide additional guidance to districts around ways to incorporate DEI and anti-racism efforts into hiring practices for all groups on campuses and in district offices.  The ASCCC has also created modules around recruitment, hiring, and retention that continue to be updated with contributions from many practitioner partners, including human resources officers, the Community College League of California, and chief instructional and student services officers.  Those modules are available in Canvas and can be found at https://ccconlineed.instructure.com/courses/5733/modules.

One of the general sessions that will be conducted at the Fall 2021 Plenary Session is an event created to honor faculty leaders.  While this session will include honoring past members of the ASCCC Executive Committee, it is also intended as a recognition of the work that all faculty have done over the past two years.  The ASCCC hopes that you will join us, whether in person or virtually, and celebrate all the hard work engaged in by faculty colleagues across the state.  We look forward to seeing you then.

What Is Hyflex, and Why Do I Keep Hearing About It?

Reedley College Instructional Designer

Note: The following article is not an official statement of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. The article is intended to engender discussion and consideration by local colleges but should not be seen as the endorsement of any position or practice by the ASCCC.

Before March 2020, the efficacy and importance of online learning was a debate for many college instructors. Now, eighteen months later, faculty are still grappling with how to provide quality instruction in the face of a pandemic intent on sticking around. Hyflex is one solution that many see as a panacea to current and future online teaching woes. Reedley College has adapted hyflex, one of the potential long-term strategies for student-centered online learning, to build a blended interactive learning pilot program.


Brian Beatty first introduced hyflex learning in 2006 at San Francisco State University (Beatty, 2019). A true hyflex class will offer three different modalities simultaneously and allow the learner to choose between those modalities on a session-by-session basis (Whalley et al., 2021). The three modalities Beatty suggests are asynchronous or fully online, synchronous engagement via a mobile streaming platform like Zoom, and face-to-face instruction (Lohmann et. al, 2021).

To create a class with all three modalities rolled into one, instructors need to build backward, meaning that an instructor would approach the course as though it were a completely asynchronous, fully online course. The instructor would build out all the modules and upload all course content as though the only interaction with the students would be online. This process ensures that students that choose to engage asynchronously have full access to all materials. From there, the instructor would build in Zoom links and prepare for synchronous engagement and then finally meet with additional students in the face-to-face environment.

Beatty established four key principles to guide the use of the modalities (Kelly, 2020). The first principle is learner’s choice. The student decides which modality to use to access the course and can make that decision on a session-by-session basis. A student who prefers to learn entirely online may never attend a class session or may choose to come to class either in person or through Zoom if a topic is particularly challenging. A student may also choose to attend completely face-to-face and never access the online component unless the student gets sick or has an emergency. The key to this principle is that the student can decide how to access the course on a session-by-session, week-by-week basis.

The second principle is equivalency. For a hyflex course to be equivalent, all content and activities in all modalities must lead to equivalent assessments and learning outcomes (Whalley et. al, 2021). The instructor has the responsibility to ensure that all students in all three modalities are not only taught the concepts, but are taught in a way that produces equal results.

The third principle is reusability. Beatty suggests that instructors make all learning activities used across modalities available to all students. If a discussion board is available for asynchronous learners, face-to-face learners should also have access to it. On the converse, if students watch a video in class, the video should be posted into the CMS course to be accessed by all. Reusability ensures that all students have equal access to the course and course materials across modalities, but it also reinforces learning. For instance, a student that has attended class face-to-face would be able to go home and re-watch the video of the lecture and review concepts learned in class.

The final principle of hyflex learning is accessibility. While accessibility should be at the forefront of every class, it is especially important in a hyflex course. Whalley et al. (2021) recommend that instructors equip their students with the necessary skills and access to all modalities. In addition to making sure links are correctly identified and images have alternative text, the instructor should ensure that students know how to access the material and have the technology to do so.

Hyflex classes provide an incredible opportunity for students to access their courses when and how they want and need. This model allows for peak flexibility and has a built-in backup system for when life gets in the way of school. Students in a hyflex course can quickly pivot when a COVID surge happens or a car breaks down. However, while hyflex is a wonderful opportunity for students, it can create a heavier workload and subsequent burden on instructors to essentially teach the course in different ways at the same time.

Blended Interactive Learning

Reedley Community College was intrigued by the flexibility hyflex offers students and the ways it might solve some of the very real problems COVID caused, but the college was hesitant to ask instructors to take on the lift of all three modalities at once. The solution was to remove the fully asynchronous option and instead implement a blended interactive learning model. This model allows students to attend class either face-to-face or synchronously via a platform like Zoom. Just like with the hyflex model, students can choose session by session which way they access the course. The key to this model is interactivity. The classroom is set up with technology that allows the Zoom students to see and interact with the students in the face-to-face classroom and the students in the face-to-face classroom to see and interact with the students on Zoom. Additionally, all students can see and interact with the instructor. Students on Zoom are not passive viewers but can be put into groups with face-to-face students and engage in all activities taking place in the physical classroom. Instructors are still encouraged to adhere to all four of the principles Beatty established for the hyflex model, but at Reedley the application of those principles is more streamlined and easier to attain.

This type of flexible hybrid learning is not exclusive to Reedley, as many other campuses across the country are adapting Beatty’s hybrid flexible model to fit their campus needs (Kelly, 2021).  Reedley specifically chose the name ‘blended interactive learning’ to avoid the inevitable confusion that a hyflex Google search produces.

Reedley’s first blended interactive learning courses went live in Fall 2021 with three different instructors piloting the program across three different disciplines. Instructors completed a training module to help prepare them for the technology in the classroom, with instructional strategies for teaching in this environment and documentation they would need to provide to their students. Pilot instructors are also participating in trainings and meetings throughout the semester to establish best practices for the campus.

The early data from those classes suggests that this mode of instruction is a success not just for students but for instructors as well. Students have reported that they are relieved to have access to their courses no matter what happens in the world. One student attended class from the hospital while his wife gave birth to their child, another attended class from home while recovering from knee surgery, and, of course, some students have been at home for COVID and COVID exposure. The flexibility has been a welcome respite, as students have reported that they would have had to drop their class without the hyflex option in place. Instructors are equally pleased with the flexibility. One instructor reported seeing almost 100% attendance every day of class. In addition to the stellar attendance record, instructors are reporting student attrition rates are also improving. When students have flexibility to attend class even when they cannot physically be present, they do not get behind and are less likely to drop the course.

Hyflex and blended interactive learning are both focused on student-centered instruction that is equitable, accessible, and flexible. These models, and others like them, may or may not be the answers to pandemic problems, but they are an opportunity to rethink and imagine the future of higher education.


Beatty, B. (2019). Hybrid-Flexible Course Design: Implementing Student-directed Hybrid Classes. Edtechbooks.org. https://edtechbooks.org/hyflex.

Kelly, K. (2020, June 13). COVID-19 Planning for Fall 2020: A Closer Look at Hybrid-Flexible Course Design.PhilOnEdTech. https://philonedtech.com/covid-19-planning-for-fall-2020-a-closer-look-at-hybrid-flexible-course-design/.

Kelly,K. (2021, January 6). COVID-19 Planning for Spring 2021: What We Learned About   Hybrid Flexible Courses in Fall 2020. PhilOnEdTech. https://philonedtech.com/covid-19-planning-for-spring-2021-what-we-learned/.

Lohman, M.J., Randolph, K.M., & Oh, J. H. (2021). Classroom management strategies for hyflex instruction: Setting students up for success in the hybrid environment. Early Childhood Education Journal. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-021-01201-5.

Whalley, B., France, D., Park, J., Mauchline, A., & Welsh, K. (2021). Towards flexible personalized learning and the future educational system in the fourth industrial revolution in the wake of Covid-19. Higher Education Pedagogies 6(1), 79-99.   https://doi.org/10.1080/23752696.2021.1883458.

She, They, He, Us: Transforming Campus Inclusivity Through the Use of Pronouns

Palomar College
Palomar College
Palomar College

Note: The following article is not an official statement of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. The article is intended to engender discussion and consideration by local colleges but should not be seen as the endorsement of any position or practice by the ASCCC.

Pronouns are an important part of gender identity and an easy way for people to show respect for individuals and their genders. Using a person’s chosen personal pronouns lets that person know that you respect the individual and recognize their identity.

Gender is a spectrum; many people, especially young people, identify as transgender, non-binary, genderqueer, or other identities outside the dominant male/female binary. These people may use what are known as gender neutral or gender inclusive pronouns. Gender neutral pronouns exist as an option when the traditional male or female pronouns do not fit. The most common of these variations is using ‘they’ or ‘their’to refer to an individual person. This usage and other pronouns such as ze—pronounced “zee”—and hir—pronounced “heer”— (see Table 1) offer an opportunity for people to find personal pronouns that fit who they are and help them feel validated.

Table 1









































Using appropriate chosen pronouns is a very basic way to prevent someone from feeling minoritized or disrespected. Scholars from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee LGBTQ+ Resource Center conveyed the following: “It is a privilege to not have to worry about which pronoun someone is going to use for you based on how they perceive your gender. If you have this privilege, yet fail to respect someone else’s gender identity, it is not only disrespectful and hurtful, but also oppressive” (p.1).

Purposely or continually using the wrong pronouns or using gendered language for someone who is gender neutral is an aggressive act, especially when one has been informed or corrected. Misgendering can also have a negative effect on a person’s mental health. LGBTQIA+ community members are already at risk for heightened mental health issues, especially young people. Using neutral language can significantly reduce marginality and mental health risks. For example, The Trevor Project (2020) found that “TGNB [transgender/nonbinary] youth who reported having their pronouns respected by all or most of the people in their lives attempted suicide at half the rate of those who did not have their pronouns respected” (n.p.). This statistic reveals the compelling nature of using students’ chosen pronouns properly.

Making a mistake and correcting oneself is always acceptable; purposely using the wrong pronouns is not, even if one believes the person should use certain or different pronouns. One cannot always tell what pronouns someone uses just by looking at that person. The easiest way to know what pronouns someone prefers is to ask, “What pronouns do you use?”

One can also share one’s own pronouns: “My name is Jenny, and my pronouns are she, her, and hers.” Such a practice indicates that a person welcomes learning about other people’s pronouns. Sharing one’s own pronouns is a very simple way to identify oneself as an ally, a safe person, and someone who cares about the people one is interacting with. When cisgender people share their pronouns, especially when those pronouns seem obvious, it disrupts the normalization of the privilege of never needing to indicate one’s own pronouns to be recognized. Sharing pronouns publicly is about making sure other people know how to refer to you correctly so that you feel comfortable and seen and your identity is respected; it also empowers other people to feel comfortable doing the same.

Faculty should be willing to use gender neutral language to support non-binary, transgender, and all other students as well as colleagues and the community. Such usage also disrupts the assumption that people must look a certain way or have a certain name to demonstrate gender identity, helps to break down the binary gender system, and demonstrates that gender is a spectrum. Avoiding gendered terms like “guys” and “ma’am” to refer to people or groups, using people’s names when possible, and adjusting one’s language to be inclusive rather than exclusive, divisive, or gendered can all have a powerful impact on the people one interacts with and foster a sense of belonging (see Table 2).

Table 2 








honored guests/ students/class







A great resource for those who are looking to learn more about personal pronoun usage is https://www.mypronouns.org/.

Literature Review

In a review of literature directly related to the importance of institutionalizing pronouns in education, various critical theories stood out. Queer and validation theories provide educators a lens to further understand the lived experiences of communities who identify as non-binary, gender-neutral, and LGBTQIA+. 

Queer theory provides educators a perspective to understand the oppressive power of dominant norms in society as it relates to pronouns and sexuality. Queer theorists have stressed the importance of reducing or eliminating heteronormativity and binary systems. Butler (1999) elucidated the detrimental impact of hierarchical binaries in society. Educators must recognize that cultural identity is progressively changing and continue to reflect and challenge their normative-thinking bias. 

Rendón (1994) alluded to the importance of educators validating students by accepting and embracing their cultural diversity. Students and employees in community colleges encounter overt and covert sexism, homophobia, and transphobia daily, all of which impact student and employee retention. Educators must externally validate students and colleagues on campus (Rendón, 1994). The validation given must be authentic and affirming of others’ agency. When colleges validate and provide a sense of belonging for LGBTQIA+ students, the students’ academic success is improved. Kiekel (2019) explained the lack of engagement provided for LGBTQIA+ students on campus and how this lack directly impacts their persistence and success. As a result, greater disparities regarding campus climate are presented (Kiekel, 2019).

Supportive Practices to Consider

The following lists offer suggestions for supportive practices colleges can consider adopting to ensure gender inclusivity.

Sharing of Pronouns in Numerous Ways

  • Add pronouns near the instructor’s name on syllabi, office nameplates, website bios, business cards, and nametags.
  • Add pronouns to email signatures. Students notice this practice, and it makes a difference for them. One can also add a hyperlink in a signature to mypronouns.org, or the institution’s pronoun guide if it has one, to help offer more information for those who are unfamiliar with the reason behind sharing pronouns.[1]
  • Add pronouns to faculty profiles on the college LMS. Canvas, for example, allows users to include their pronouns to be displayed next to their names throughout the interface. This feature needs to be activated by the campus’ academic technology team.
  • When teaching or meeting virtually, faculty can add pronouns in their Zoom or Skype nametags.
  • When introducing themselves to students or to colleagues in meetings, faculty can include pronouns in their verbal introductions. Consistently introducing oneself with one’s name and pronouns will encourage others to do the same.
  • Include the diversification of pronouns in teaching, including, for example, classroom examples both written and verbal and in test questions, and in communications with students.

Adopting Pronouns Systemically

  • Consider all the places where gender designations, markers, or pronouns are asked for in paperwork throughout the institution, and then ask whether the information is needed, useful, or even used. In some instances, demographic data like gender must be collected for federal, state, or grant purposes. In many other cases, this information is requested out of habit and is often never used.
    • If collection of gender data from students or employees is necessary or desirable, consider removing binary options such as offering only male and female choices and replacing them with a blank for individuals to input how they identify. Avoid adding “other” to the binary options as a nod to inclusivity; this terminology can be dismissive and tokenizing.
    • Remove gendered honorifics such as Mrs., Mr., and Ms. from paperwork and applications.
  • Replace gendered language in all institutional documentation. This change can be a daunting task to undertake all at once; instead, faculty can help lead the charge by using the shared governance process to remind colleagues of the importance of gender-neutral language whenever edits and revisions to the institution’s written materials are being made.
    • Be conscious of gendered language during processes such as the routine curriculum review cycle for course catalog descriptions, routine policy and procedure review, and negotiations for collective bargaining agreements.
    • Consider assigning people involved in curriculum tech review to catch gendered language usage in course outlines of record.
  • Encourage Human Resource Services to review all aspects of their processes, including applications, hiring, and payroll.
  • Encourage student service areas to review all aspects of their services, including enrollment, counseling, software and systems, and student health services intake.
  • Consider ongoing and regular training for employees in departments and divisions, including case studies and common microaggressions.
  • Encourage facilities departments to ensure that signage on campus is gender- neutral.
  • Consider the placement and availability of gender-neutral bathrooms throughout the campus.

Suggestions for Further Attention

The California Community Colleges system can take steps to create inclusive policies and practices that are welcoming of gender-neutral or non-binary students and employees. While each college varies, the following are some areas that could use more attention related to pronouns specifically:

  • Application forms could have a designated area for students to select their pronouns. This practice would also support college campuses to better understand their student populations.
  • The SARS appointment scheduling system—used commonly in counseling and student services—does not have a designated area for pronouns, but placing this information in the notes section would ensure the accuracy of students’ identified pronouns for future use.

The commitment of faculty in the California Community Colleges system should be to model inclusivity; the more pronoun sharing and respect for chosen pronouns is normalized, the more students and employees will become inclusive and accepting of all students, colleagues, and the community.


Baron, D. (2020). What’s your pronoun? Beyond he and she. Liveright.

Butler, J. (1999). Gender trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity. Routledge.

Kiekel, C. (2012). Perceptions of Campus Climate and Engagement for Lesbian, Gay,    Bisexual, and Transgender Community College Students. Academic Senate   California Community Colleges 50th Anniversary 1969-2019 Rostrum. Retrieved from https://asccc.org/sites/default/files/Rostrum_2019-50thYr.pdf

Palomar College. (2020). Palomar College pronoun guide. [Brochure]. Retrieved from https://www2.palomar.edu/pages/dei/files/2020/08/Pronoun-Guide-v6.pdf.

Rendón, L. I. (1994). Validating culturally diverse students: Toward a new model of learning and student development. Innovative Higher Education 19(1), 33-50.

Trevor Project Research Brief: Pronoun Usage among LGBTQ Youth. (2020). The Trevor Project.  https://www.thetrevorproject.org/2020/07/29/research-brief-pronouns-usage-among-lgbtq-youth/.

University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, LGBTQ+ Resource Center (n.d.) Why is it important to respect people’s pronouns? University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. Retrieved from https://uwm.edu/lgbtrc/qa_faqs/why-is-it-important-to-respect-peoples-pronouns/.

[1] An example of Palomar College’s pronoun guide can be found at https://www2.palomar.edu/pages/dei/files/2020/08/Pronoun-Guide-v6.pdf.

Moving the Needle: Equity, Cultural Responsiveness, and Anti-Racism in the Course Outline of Record

ASCCC Curriculum Committee
ASCCC Curriculum Committee

As educators in the largest system of higher education in the United States, faculty in the California community colleges acknowledge equity as crucial to their work. The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges’ mission includes a commitment to equity (ASCCC, 2020a), and the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office Vision for Success includes the goal to first reduce and then close achievement gaps for traditionally underrepresented student groups (CCCCO, 2017). In the last year, national and global events have highlighted the necessity for community colleges to increase focus on systemic change to promote equity and anti-racism in classrooms, colleges, and communities (ASCCC, 2020b).

The course outline of record (COR) and the curriculum review process are key places where campuses can advance equity work in important, systemic ways. As a “document with defined legal standing that plays a critical role in the curriculum of the California community colleges” (ASCCC, 2017), the COR sets expectations for a course and guides instructional practice. Embedding equity in the COR ensures that all students who enroll in a particular course will have the same access to course content and objectives that are culturally responsive and anti-racist. Explicit inclusion of equity, cultural responsiveness, and anti-racism is important for newer instructors, for articulation with four-year institutions also engaging in equity work, and for experienced instructors who may benefit from a fresh look at their course outlines. As a binding document, the COR translates directly into the classroom and affects students’ success and learning.

A focus on equity and anti-racism may seem relevant only to a handful of disciplines, but reviewing CORs through an equity lens shows that faculty can all take part in this type of inquiry and systemic change. While maintaining fidelity to disciplinary content and instructional approaches is important, all faculty can have conversations about equity within the context of their disciplinary expertise. The following is a brief explanation of some of the components of the COR that can be reviewed and redesigned using an equity lens (Bean & Gelpi, 2019):

  • Course Title and Description: These elements are usually the first things students see about a class and can send a message to the students. The title should be descriptive, accurate, and inclusive and the description student-centered, using accessible and inclusive language with a focus on what the student will gain from the course. They should be inviting and welcoming. Discipline-specific terminology should be appropriately defined or explained through context. The goal is to ensure that every student, even before enrolling in the class, can read the description and understand what the course will cover and how it may be relevant for that individual student. For example, the description for a history course might consider how black, indigenous, and other people of color have traditionally been erased from the curriculum and shift the focus in the course description by using language like “colonized people” in place of “colonial.”
  • Units/Hours: Higher units and hours can slow student progress and have consequences for student financial aid. In addition, most colleges are progressing in their guided pathways work, which includes reducing time to completion. Faculty should consider whether the course units are aligned with transfer institutions and model curricula. If units are high, a plan should be in place to validate them using disaggregated data that identifies the effects on enrollment for disproportionately impacted groups, including racial and ethnic groups. Noncredit options should be listed if appropriate.
  • Limitations on Enrollment: Faculty should consider whether barriers to enrollment such as pre- and co-requisites or advisories may have disproportionate impact on any students. Limitations on enrollment must be appropriately validated. Reviewing requisites for disproportionate impact is already a requirement for certain types of requisites per Title 5 §55003(g), but faculty should consider whether applying that review process to other limitations on enrollment would help to ensure equitable access to more courses.
  • Course Content and Objectives: Where appropriate, faculty should consider explicitly including culturally responsive and anti-racist content in the course topics and objectives.  Although diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) content that explicitly addresses racial inequities may be a stronger fit in some disciplines, almost every discipline will have debates, disagreements, or assumptions that can be challenged; the COR should have an acknowledgement and discussion of these issues built in. Opportunities should be built into the topics and objectives for students to see themselves and their experiences represented and to bring their authentic selves to the course through strategies like reflection or response. Faculty should consider not just the content but also the language and terminology used to describe it and be cognizant of where the terms and topics reflect Eurocentric or colonizing views—for example, “third world countries”—and seek opportunities to move the marginalized experiences of black and indigenous people to the center. A review should not just examine what is in the course but also what is left out.
  • Assignments: Example assignments act as a guide to new faculty for ideas and development. They should provide examples that align with equitable course content and opportunities for students to bring their own experiences to the course. These assignments should be both formative and summative.
  • Learning Outcomes: Faculty should consider a course SLO with a specific focus on DEI or anti-racism in all CORs. For example, a course outcome addressing anti-racism could include articulating or analyzing how social and historical context affected major theories or discoveries in the field, particularly in light of systemic racism. A specific SLO aligned to the course content allows faculty to focus on these areas in assessment and ensure that their students’ learning includes equity and anti-racism. Even where DEI content is not explicitly present, the outcomes assessment process should include equity review and thoughtful data disaggregation.
  • Methods of Instruction and Evaluation: The COR should include multiple methods of instruction and evaluation, including some authentic assessments capturing more contextualized understanding. Delivering course content for multiple learning styles and ensuring students have a variety of methods to demonstrate their learning can lead to more equitable outcomes and a more inclusive learning experience (Harris & Hernandez, 2021).
  • Course Materials: Textbooks, manuals, or other materials should include diverse representations in authorship and content. If they do not, supplemental materials might be included. Course materials should be ADA-accessible and affordable. Where appropriate, open educational resources alternatives should be considered. Although some colleges consider textbooks listed on the COR to be primarily examples, the texts are an important guide for faculty about what kinds of materials are considered acceptable for the course and can have an important impact on the texts that are ultimately selected.
  • Other Considerations: Appropriate general education, transfer, and articulation agreements for the course should be listed, as should appropriate distance education modalities approved for the course. A review of the COR should balance the need for increased access with the ability to maintain the quality and fidelity of the course.

Although the points above focus on the COR, degrees and certificates can also benefit from a fresh look with an equity perspective, particularly as colleges advance a guided pathways framework with an emphasis on ensuring learning and completion.

As colleges work to include equity, cultural responsiveness, and anti-racism in their curriculum, they will also need to develop parallel review processes and professional development to ensure that faculty have the necessary tools to design and review course outlines with an equity lens. Many colleges have already begun this work, using tools like cultural curriculum audits, equity rubrics (Koenig, Taylor-Mendoza, & Miller, 2020), and guided pathways (ASCCC Guided Pathways Taskforce, 2021). Other possibilities for systematic equity review might include incorporating equity, cultural responsiveness, and anti-racism in curriculum review materials such as curriculum handbooks, committee training, and standardized questions incorporated in the curriculum management system or during committee discussions.

Models for equity review should ensure that the primary responsibility for curriculum review remains with discipline faculty while also ensuring that equity is discussed systemically across the curriculum review process. Faculty can identify the best places for these discussions at their own colleges—whether in initial faculty self-review, departmental review, program review, curriculum committee review, or some combination—and then work to develop tools that will aid the review process at each step.

Curriculum and equity are at the heart of what community college faculty do. All faculty need to help to make a more equitable system that reflects the diversity of the students, faculty, and communities of California’s community colleges.


Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. (2017). The Course Outline of Record: A Curriculum Reference Guide Revisited. Retrieved from https://asccc.org/sites/default/files/COR_0.pdf.

Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. (2020a). Anti-Racism Education in the California Community Colleges. Retrieved from https://asccc.org/sites/default/files/Anti-Racism_Education_F20.pdf.

Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. (2020b). Mission and Vision. Retrieved from https://asccc.org/about/mission.

ASCCC Guided Pathways Taskforce (2021). Aligning Guided Pathways with Equity-Minded Actions. Powerpoint. 2021 Guided Pathways Taskforce Resources. Retrieved from https://ccconlineed.instructure.com/courses/2634/pages/2021-guided-pathways-taskforce-resources.

Bean, M.V. & Gelpi, S.R. (2019, July 11) The course outline of record – through an equity lens. PowerPoint. ASCCC Curriculum Institute. Retrieved from https://asccc.org/content/course-outline-record-%E2%80%93-through-equity-lens.

California Community College Chancellor’s Office. (2017). Vision Goals. Retrieved from https://www.cccco.edu/About-Us/Vision-for-Success/vision-goals.

Harris, S. and Hernandez, J. (2021, July 8) Defining the fourth pillar: Enhancing teaching, learning, and equity. PowerPoint. ASCCC Curriculum Institute. Retrieved from https://asccc.org/content/defining-fourth-pillar-enhancing-teaching-learning-and-equity.

Koenig, W., Taylor-Mendoza, J. and Miller, D. (2020, July 8) Curriculum design and delivery through an equity lens. PowerPoint. ASCCC Curriculum Institute. Retrieved from https://asccc.org/content/curriculum-design-and-delivery-through-equity-lens.

Getting to the Truth of It All: The Role and Impact of Critical Race Theory on Community Colleges

ASCCC Treasurer, Equity and Diversity Action Committee Chair
Equity and Diversity Action Committee Member
ASCCC South Representative, Noncredit, Pre-Transfer, & Continuing Education Committee Chair

Theoretical frameworks have always been important elements in instruction because of their ability to introduce subjects to students in ways that are meaningful and dynamic.  They allow both the instructor and students to study their subjects through specific lenses that not only provide deeper understandings but also help students to understand why the study of a subject is important. In many ways, these frameworks become essential not only to a student’s understanding of a specific topic but perhaps most importantly to the student’s understanding of society and the individual’s place within that society. From this perspective, one can easily understand the important role that theoretical frameworks have played in education’s collective evolution.

While many theoretical frameworks have existed as long as academia has existed, the twentieth century bore witness to an increase in frameworks that began to challenge earlier and more established theories that relied on cis-gendered, masculine, and Eurocentric concepts. In fact, by the 1930s, new critical theories began to appear that challenged the long-held and traditional theories that had dominated academia since its inception. These theories—developed primarily by scholars of color, feminists, and queer scholars—challenged not only the Eurocentric notions of traditional academia but also, and perhaps more importantly, the masculine, cis-gendered, straight notions that continue to govern not only academic institutions but society as well. One such framework is critical race theory (CRT). Since its appearance in the 1970s, CRT has played a prominent role in the direction the United States has taken in regard to identifying and addressing race and racism in society. A look back at the history of CRT shows the important contributions that this theory has made to the overall evolution of the collective dialogue on race and racism.

Despite the fact that this theory has existed for decades, it has recently become a popular topic in mainstream society. Unfortunately, the current conversations surrounding CRT are usually based on misinformation and misunderstanding of the theory itself. The purpose of this article is to provide the readers with an objective overview of CRT as a theoretical framework as well as the role that CRT has played within the California community colleges.

History and Definition of CRT

Because the current dialogue surrounding CRT is inundated with misconceptions, an overview of CRT must begin with a clear definition and understanding of the academic concept. CRT appeared as a theoretical framework in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Its purpose was to address and challenge the current paradigms used in the dialogue surrounding race and racism in society at that time and to reshape the structure of that dialogue. Critical race scholars focused on the concepts of neutrality, meritocracy, and color blindness and ultimately argued that these concepts did more to both perpetuate and maintain racism in society than they did to address and eradicate it. Unfortunately, many legal, social, political, and cultural struggles are based upon these very same paradigms. The roots of this theoretical framework can be found in critical legal studies that appeared in 1976 as a group of legal scholars of color began to question the effectiveness of laws passed during the civil rights era intended to address and eradicate racism. These scholars, through their research and analysis, determined that these laws were ineffective because racism is embedded in every aspect of society. In this way, critical race scholars identified racism as a systemic issue rather than as an individual one and as an ordinary occurrence in Americans’ everyday interactions.

Once scholars recognized that racism was a systemic issue, these theoretical ideas soon began to appear within other disciplines. If racism is in fact systemic, then applying a critical race lens to any aspect of society should also effectively reveal the impact of racism on those structures and as such, allow society to address them effectively. By the end of the twentieth century, this theoretical framework began to appear within various academic disciplines—such as history, sociology, English and composition, and ethnic studies—as scholars within these disciplines began to utilize the tenets of CRT to explore their subjects. In the process, CRT evolved as a theoretical framework and began to embrace other tenets such as intersectionality, which has existed within academic institutions and has been a part of the discourse around racism for decades despite the fact that mainstream society is only now becoming aware of CRT. Intersectionality, first introduced in 1989 by scholar Kimberle Crenshaw, helped feminist scholars as well as scholars of color to “challenge the dominant ideologies of traditional educational practices, as well as tease apart hegemonic understandings of identity, oppression, and resistance” (De Saxe & Trotter-Simons, 2021). This tenet of CRT has since become so widely accepted that it has even begun to make its way into popular culture and mainstream media and has contributed to the current discourse on equity, anti-racism, and social justice in society.

Another long-established tenet of CRT is the concept of social constructionism in relation to race. Social constructionism as a theoretical framework first appeared in the late 1960s from a sociological perspective. However, scholars of CRT used a racial lens to understand how social constructionism works in regard to race and determined that “race and races are products of social thought and relations” (Delgado & Stefancic, 2017). As Delgado and Stefancic state, social construction allowed scholars to recognize that race is not “inherent or fixed . . . they correspond to no known biological or genetic reality; rather, races are categories that society invents, manipulates, or retires when convenient." Similar to intersectionality, this particular tenet of CRT has played a prominent role not only within classrooms but also within society to better understand how race and race relations occur or are formed.

The Positive Impacts

As with many other theoretical frameworks used within academia, CRT is not often directly taught to students in undergraduate work. However, many community college students are being exposed to CRT concepts and tenets through lesson plans and intentional curriculum design. The establishment and evolution of CRT, as well as the establishment of disciplines such as women’s studies, LGBT studies, and ethnic studies, has helped create a cadre of professors trained in CRT who are now working within the community college system using their CRT expertise to develop lesson plans and utilize textbooks that expose students to a more comprehensive understanding of race and racism.

The positive impact of CRT in community college classrooms is certainly profound, especially considering how it has helped to introduce more representation of historically marginalized communities into the curriculum. However, perhaps even more profound is the effect and impact that CRT has had on analyzing structural racism within the community college system. In fact, much of the discussion on anti-racism, decolonization, and social justice that dominates institutions today is directly influenced by CRT and its evolution. CRT has in many ways forced colleges to re-examine their own relationships with systemic racism in a way that color blindness never allowed. Through tenets of CRT, academic institutions have more directly addressed the racialized gaps in student success rates.

Conclusion: The Truth About Theories, Structures, and Racism

In many ways, the current efforts to address racial gaps in student success rates as well as to address the Eurocentric and color-blind structures of academic systems are directly indebted to CRT and its evolution across academic disciplines. The controversy and debates currently surrounding CRT are not new, as this theoretical framework has encountered opposition since its inception, and some of this opposition is based on objective and critical perspectives that have, in many ways, helped to strengthen and improve CRT as a framework. However, these debates are commonly filled with misconceptions about CRT in and of itself. This situation is no surprise, as the discussion over racism is very difficult and is certainly intertwined with very subjective reactions. However, what society has made very clear in the last several years is that it needs a more effective, dynamic, and critical method of addressing racism in a way that moves it away from an individual flaw of character to a systemic issue that impacts every aspect of people’s everyday lives, and CRT has been able to establish the conditions to create this method. Educators have the opportunity to acknowledge and engage in these meaningful and difficult conversations around race and critical perspectives.


Delgado, R. and Stefancic, J. (2017). CRT: An Introduction, 3rd Edition, NYU P.

De Saxe, J.G. and Trotter-Simons, B.E. (2021). Intersectionality, Decolonization, and Educating for Critical Consciousness. Journal of Thought. Spring-Summer, 3-20.

How Student Engagement Can Mitigate Enrollment Fraud

ASCCC Area B Representative, Online Education Committee Chair
ASCCC Area A Representative, Curriculum Committee Chair

In Fall 2021, California community colleges were inundated by tens of thousands of fake student accounts representing an effort to gain fraudulent access to financial aid (Burke, 2021). These fraudulent activities put a technological and fiscal hardship on the colleges and, more importantly, negatively impacted students by re-directing much needed financial aid and COVID relief dollars away from those who needed funding the most. While individual faculty can do little to modify cybersecurity protocols in community college systems, they can fight fraud by doing something regarding which they are experts: student engagement.

One should first recognize that students are not the ones committing fraud; most fraudulent attacks use a bot to mimic a student by applying, enrolling, and supposedly attending classes (Hall, et. al., 2021). The best way to identify these bots is to engage the students to detect potential fraud early in the semester. Faculty play an essential role in conformation and reporting of non-participants. The California Community Colleges Memo “Mitigating Enrollment Fraud –Instructional Practice & Reporting Obligations” (Alvarado, Davison, & Miller, 2021) states that per Title 5 §58004, districts and colleges are required to eliminate inactive enrollments by the census date. The only way colleges can accomplish this task is with the participation of faculty.  Faculty are the ones in the classroom, whether in person or online, who can detect unengaged participants.

Faculty can identify fraud by engaging students early, often, and creatively in their classes. In addition to these efforts being an anti-fraud strategy, they are also an effective practice for student success. Data from the Research and Planning Group (RP Group, 2021) shows that students are more likely to succeed when they are engaged. This engagement includes students actively participating in classes and feeling that they are part of a community.

The following are some best practices for engaging students that will help in identifying fraudulent activity:

  • Require substantive assignments, preferably more than one, in the first weeks of class, before census.
  • Create group work assignments; students can help identify who is not contributing.
  • Use office hours, both in person and online, to engage with students one on one.
  • Proactively reach out to students if they have not completed assignments. Faculty can use an early alert or functionality in Canvas to contact students who have missing assignments.
  • Create assignments that require critical thinking that would be beyond a rote bot response.
  • Use interactive technologies like Padlet, Mentimeter, Poll Everywhere, or Canvas quiz to elicit student responses.
  • Ask for follow up responses to grading comments.
  • Engage students in discussion boards, using videos and image options in addition to text.
  • Add language about student engagement in course syllabi and share expectations with students.

Using these strategies can help to ensure that the students are not bots in order to help all students. These strategies are not only best practices for student engagement, but they also fulfill the requirements of the US Department of Education under 34 CFR 600.2, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), and Title 5 §54204 and §55206 for regular and substantive interaction in online courses. Substantive interaction means students are engaged in teaching, learning, and assessment. Regular interaction is also required not just between student and instructor but among students (ACCJC, 2021).

In addition to these engagement strategies, faculty can take some practical and logistical steps to detect and report fraud:

  • Message students in the course enrollment system before the term starts but after students have enrolled. Ask them to do an easy response activity such as responding to a short student information poll.
  • If a waitlist exists, message all the students on the waitlist and ask them to give some short responses.
  • Warn students who are enrolled that if they do not complete an initial required activity or if they miss a synchronous class they are required to attend, they may be dropped if they do not complete or attend the first activity or class meeting.
  • If students ask for an add code for the course after the term begins but before census date, ask students to respond with why they want to take the class and look for any odd-sounding responses.
  • Keep up to date on grading, especially before census, to help identify bot participation.
  • Review student participation data in Canvas and look at how much time students are spending in Canvas. Very short bursts of activity on Canvas can be indicative of bot activity.
  • Review local policies and work with administrative and faculty leadership on identifying fraud and create processes for how to report suspected fraud.
  • Proactively clear non-active students early so other students can add needed classes.
  • Create professional development opportunities on campus to discuss anti-fraud strategies and share best practices on student engagement.
  • Ask for help if suspected fraud occurs.

Fraudulent activities negatively impact students financially and create challenges regarding lack of course access. Faculty have the opportunity and the responsibility to help identify fraudulent activity by proactively and frequently engaging students.


Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. (2021, June). Policy on Distance Education and on Correspondence Education. Retrieved from https://accjc.org/wp-content/uploads/Policy-on-Distance-and-on-Correspondence-Education.pdf.

Alvarado, M., Davison, D., & Miller, D. (2021, September 20). Mitigating Enrollment Fraud – Instructional Practices & Reporting Obligations. Retrieved from https://www.cccco.edu/Search-Memos-and-Official-Documents?search=&divisionsCategoryFilters=&topicsCategoryFilters=&studentsCategoryFilters=&typesCategoryFilters=&programsCategoryFilters=&fiscalyearsCategoryFilters=&activeFilters=&sort=relevance&page=1.

Burke, Michael. (2021, September 21). California Community Colleges seek $100 million in tech upgrades, in part to tighten security after bot attacks. EdSource, https://edsource.org/2021/california-community-colleges-seeks-100-million-in-tech-upgrades-in-part-to-tighten-security-after-bot-attacks/661361.

Hall, E., Reagan, M., West, C., & Zinshteyn, M. (2021, September 2). That student in your community college class could be a bot. Cal Matters, https://calmatters.org/education/higher-education/college-beat-higher-education/2021/09/california-community-colleges-financial-aid-scam/.

Research and Planning Group. (2021). Success Factors Framework (Six Success Factors). The RP Group. https://rpgroup.org/Our-Projects/Student-Support-Re-defined/SuccessFactorsFramework.

Long-Term Local Academic Senate Presidents: The Importance of a Light at the End of the Tunnel

Area C Representative, Educational Policies Committee Chair

The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) has for some time recommended that local academic senates establish succession plans for their leadership.[1] In fact, this subject was a major topic of the 2021 ASCCC Faculty Leadership Institute. The work of a local academic senate president can be challenging. As such, holding this position for long stretches of time can result in leadership fatigue, stress, reduced ability to lead, diminished patience, mental health concerns, a plateau or even decline of leadership effectiveness, and, finally, a lack of the fresh ideas, leadership style, and personality that come along with new leadership.

Local academic senate presidents are usually elected to lead their senates for a particular amount of time, typically defined in terms of a cycle or term. However, if an academic senate does not have term limits or a succession plan in place, and may also be suffering from low faculty leadership engagement levels and high levels of faculty leadership hesitancy, then several cycles can repeat with the same academic senate leader in place. At initial thought, the idea of the same faculty member serving as the local senate president for several cycles may seem to imply honor, trust, prestige, and other aspects of status that appear as symbols of leadership success. However, a local long-term senate president who has not been able to convince the next academic senate president to step up may view this extended term less positively, whether the current president feels successful or not. Failing to inspire faculty to take on the academic senate president role is a realization to some sitting presidents that they may not have been as successful in their role as previously thought. They are now simply looking to find the light at the end of the tunnel of their long-time service to their colleges as academic senate presidents. Their jobs thus become more difficult and frustrating, and seeking a replacement can be a stressful, hard fought, and lonely journey.

Nevertheless, one can find reason for hope. Something can be done. Local academic senates can carve out dedicated time for their senate executive committees, senate ad hoc committees, or even academic senate retreats to develop and then adopt a succession plan that works for their college. Different types of succession plan models can be borrowed or modeled from; doing so just takes some time and effort.

Faculty should not assume that because their local academic senate president has been in place for many years that the president is happy to continue. Having long-term senate presidents may not be a healthy way for academic senates to exist over long periods of time, or other faculty leaders should be able to realize and enjoy the honor of serving in such an important role. The light at the end of the tunnel of local academic senate leadership is indeed a highly-prized outcome for local senate presidents who have traveled the long, rough, and rugged road of long-time local academic senate presidential service.

[1] See, for example, “Let Bylaws Be Bylaws: A Cautionary Tale About Senate Succession” by John Freitas in the November 2013 issue of Senate Rostrum at https://www.asccc.org/content/let-bylaws-be-bylaws-cautionary-tale-about-senate-succession-0 and “Local Senate Succession Planning: Some Considerations” by Dolores Davison in the February 2018 issue of Senate Rostrum at https://www.asccc.org/content/local-senate-succession-planning-some-considerations.

A Progressive, Productive Model for Honors and Equity

Honors Project Faculty Coordinator, College of San Mateo

Note: The following article is not an official statement of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. The article is intended to engender discussion and consideration by local colleges but should not be seen as the endorsement of any position or practice by the ASCCC.

“Math is everywhere” is a saying that I have heard on multiple occasions from my previous math teachers. But where exactly is it? Most people would not say they encounter math outside of school. However, they are not looking close enough, because math is a mystery, after all. I am hopeful the outcome of my research will open the eyes of my readers to notice the math mysteries around them.

While Asian Americans may fall into the trap of believing we are immune to racism due to our perceived proximity to whiteness, it is both unethical and unwise that we remain silent about any discrimination and dehumanization faced by ourselves and by our fellow POC. It is therefore essential for Asian Americans to join a unified resistance against the inherent racism of white supremacist America.

Using a phenomenological approach, I draw upon my experiences as a hafekasi—half-white, half-Oceanian—living in a diaspora, as well as the experiences of several other members of the Pasifika diaspora, to argue for the decolonization and indigenization of mindsets in order to recognize Oceania as a transnational community.

The statements above are not from master’s thesis descriptors or book proposals, though perhaps they could be. Rather, they are excerpts from community college student honors research proposals. Slightly paraphrased, such samples capture the spirit of the College of San Mateo’s Honors Project. More importantly, they offer a window into the honors program model at College of San Mateo, uniquely innovative for how it ambitiously addresses issues of equity, productivity, and new progressive pedagogies. The model is presented here not so much as a polished remedy but rather to invite reflection.

Part of the inspiration for developing this model came from wanting to better engage the distinctly lower-division context of community college students. On one hand, the honors model was envisioned to respect and accommodate the wide-ranging diversity of students from all varieties of ethnicity, socio-economic background, and learning styles, including first generation, international, and returning students. On the other hand, the intent is to offer an academically rigorous and intensive experience, one that will prepare students for upper division coursework, graduate school, and the professional workplace.

The heart and soul of the model is interdisciplinary seminars. These two-unit courses meet once per week for two hours; all students admitted to the program are required to take them. In the seminar, each student works through a research project for a transfer course the student is taking.  Thus, the seminar is process-oriented rather than content-oriented, though plenty of content is also discussed. Students work collaboratively in a learning community environment, but they also work independently on each of their respective research projects. While the seminar introduces students to basic interdisciplinary theories and research methods, it also encourages students to generate their own interdisciplinary flow from the ground up: they bring their own homegrown research topics to the table from diverse disciplines, helping and learning from each other.

The model thus flips the more traditional honors approach, where students are told what classes to take and what papers to write. Rather, San Mateo invites students to decide which courses they want to receive honors credit for and which area of the course they want to investigate. Such student-centered flexibility honors what students bring forward while guiding them to build academic muscle. Success, completion, persistence, and transfer rates are all 25% to 40% higher than respective college-wide averages. Moreover, since the program launched eight years ago, students have consistently presented their work at statewide conferences held at Stanford, UC Berkeley, and UC Irvine.

Crucially related to this ground-up rather than top-down dynamic is another major advantage, where equity becomes a real living force, not just a lofty aspirational concept. The program is primed to accommodate students with varying backgrounds of academic preparedness and experience. San Mateo does its best to start from each student’s point of departure in terms of academic level and topic, guiding the students outward and upward. This goal, of course, is one key underlying aim of all education. At College of San Mateo, this aim becomes honors for how it goes above and beyond the assigned coursework in a way that is flexible and collaborative; this practice, in turn, renders the honors experience more equitable. Like student-instructor collaboration, diversity is explicitly built into the very structure of the model, with the seminar serving as a safe extended family zone for each student’s distinct academic journey. Though student demographics generally mirror the college as a whole, the honors program draws lower percentages of Hispanic and first-generation students. Thus, more proactive outreach needs to enhance the model. Additionally, as inclusive as it is intended and promoted to be, an interdisciplinary honors seminar may not be the right fit for some students. The program is thus in no way an absolute solution to equity, but the pedagogical approach is nevertheless a concrete step in the right direction.

Another benefit is the model’s implications for productivity, which may appeal to the budgetary concerns of administrators. In the classic honors scenario, programs often bump against the problem of sustaining designated course sections with requisite enrollment. The widespread fix of contracts is not reliable and is susceptible to resulting in a merely additive, potentially flimsy experience. Striking a happy medium between sections and contracts, the San Mateo model proves to be cost-effective, since the main expenses are the two-unit seminar instructor salaries and modest, token compensation offered to the transfer course instructors for their time and efforts. Of course, if the program continues to grow, expenses too will balloon. At that point, the college administration will have to decide whether and how to continue supporting the program. 

Not everything in the program runs smoothly. Getting students to regularly communicate and share progress with their transfer course instructors can be daunting. Likewise, getting instructors to respond to students, with at least minimal input, can prove thorny. Sometimes the seminar and transfer course instructors do not see eye to eye on expectations, with students at times feeling caught in the middle.This potential disconnect in turn reflects the tension between equity and academic rigor: the model aims to meet the students where they are but also to lift them up. Being an open access community college complicates this tension further. In welcoming such a wide range of academic levels of preparedness, the program also welcomes an equally wide range of honors parameters according to instructors and courses. This situation can lead to problematic variations in what determines honors, which can be challenging for students and instructors to negotiate.

Thus, as the program celebrates the sometimes-difficult scholarly process students go through, the college continues to push and refine the program model. The model is itself therefore an ongoing exploration.

Liaising with the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges

ASCCC Vice President, Legislative and Advocacy Committee Chair
ASCCC At-Large Representative, Part-Time Committee Chair

In 2015, the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) established its first three formal liaison positions for local senates through the ASCCC resolution process: career technical education (CTE) faculty liaison (Resolution 17.02 S15), legislative liaison (Resolution 17.03 S15), and noncredit liaison (Resolution 17.05 S15).[1] Since that time, the guided pathways liaison and OER liaison (Resolution 17.02 F18) positions have also been added, and, in spring 2021, Resolution 3.02 was passed urging local academic senates to identify a faculty member to act as an inclusion, diversity, equity, and anti-racism (IDEA) liaison.

Initially, the ASCCC liaisons were established primarily due to the increase in “the number of new statewide initiatives and programs impacting the California community colleges” (Bruno, 2016) that resulted from legislative action. Since that time, many more statewide initiatives and programs such as the Open Educational Resources Initiative, the California Community Colleges Guided Pathways Grant Program, and the Student Equity and Achievement Program have been placed into statute and have directed the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges, the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, or the local community college or district to implement. Major portions of these programs fall under academic and professional matters as provided for in Title 5 §53200, and thus often the local academic senate president is responsible for keeping the local academic senate, faculty, and other college partners apprised of needed changes and new responsibilities. The purpose of establishing ASCCC liaisons was for each academic senate to have a point person or point people that could focus in that area and keep information flowing to and from the local academic senate. As was noted by ASCCC President Julie Bruno in 2016, this trend of legislation is far from over, as is still demonstrated by proposed and approved legislation in 2021.[2]

The ASCCC relies on local academic senate presidents to assist the ASCCC with finding faculty representatives to serve on committees, workgroups, and task forces for initiative and program planning and implementation to ensure that effective faculty participation and collegial consultation take place. Therefore, the ASCCC requests that local academic senates identify faculty to serve in these liaison roles in each of these areas.

When establishing a liaison, a local academic senate should consider the needs, interests, and capacity of the faculty at its college. The liaison may consist of a single faculty member, two faculty members, or even a committee of faculty members with one serving as a lead. Representation should be considered from college centers or other college locations as well as broad faculty representation. These considerations can allow the senate to engage part-time faculty and historically underrepresented faculty with opportunities to serve. In addition, when addressing statewide issues, the liaisons, in consultation with their academic senate president, may be expected to seek feedback from other college constituencies such as administration, the governing board, students, classified professionals, and bargaining agents or unions. Therefore, the structure of the liaison should lend itself to effective communication.

All six liaison roles are listed below with a brief description of the topics on which each liaison may be asked to focus. Until a liaison is appointed by the local academic senate, the local senate president is usually included on the liaison listserv so that the local senate does not miss any information from the ASCCC.

In general, ASCCC liaisons are expected to do the following:

  • Sign up for ASCCC listservs related to the liaison’s area of focus.
  • Update and engage the local academic senate and campus faculty on statewide matters and efforts relevant to the local college or district.
  • Communicate with the local academic senate and campus faculty regarding academic and professional matters related to the liaison role.

CTE Liaison

This position focuses on career and technical education and workforce development efforts, issues, and challenges in the California community colleges. The CTE liaison may consider sharing information with faculty on creating and maintaining responsive and system-wide portable curriculum, programs, and degrees aligned to current and emergent industry trends and guided pathways, with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of career technical education. The ASCCC often appoints CTE liaisons to serve as volunteers to various statewide initiatives, workgroups, committees, and task forces in order to ensure that their interests are represented.

Guided Pathways Liaison

This position focuses on guided pathways efforts, issues, and information pertaining to innovative strategies and actions that support students in achieving their educational goals. Liaisons communicate with their local academic senates and campus faculty regarding guided pathways efforts and implementation relevant to the local college or district.

IDEA Liaison

This position focuses on efforts throughout the California Community Colleges system around inclusion, diversity, equity, and anti-racism (IDEA) work, including through the CCCCO Call to Action, the DEI Task Force Recommendations, and the Vision for Success goals with an effort to eliminate equity gaps.

Legislative Liaison

This position focuses on tracking current information regarding relevant legislation and enabling the local academic senate to form positions upon which it may wish to act, providing information and analysis to the local senate and receiving in response feedback and direction for action. Through various opportunities, liaisons often also provide the ASCCC with information that may influence legislation.

Noncredit Liaison

This position focuses on initiatives, plans, and ideas for curricular redesign and communication about noncredit education. The ASCCC often appoints noncredit liaisons to serve as volunteers to various statewide initiatives, workgroups, committees, and task forces in order to ensure that their interests are represented.

OER Liaison

This position focuses on taking an active role in increasing local open educational resource (OER) awareness, adoption, and support. The OER liaison is an integral component of the ASCCC Open Educational Resource Initiative (OERI), with the goal of supporting local college OER efforts by creating a network of OER liaisons that serve to connect local colleges to the OERI and centrally-hosted OER-related support systems, ensuring an effective means of communication with the OERI and providing relevant resources.

This list of liaisons is fluid because the ASCCC delegates, through the resolution process, or the ASCCC Executive Committee, through an ASCCC Executive Committee action, may establish other liaison positions as needs arise.

Additionally, liaisons may have opportunities to do the following:

  • Consult with academic senate leaders to create a mechanism for the most effective communication with faculty at the local campus;
  • Monitor local and state discussions and act as a resource for local inquiries;
  • Communicate opportunities for faculty to participate through the ASCCC in statewide workgroups, committees, and taskforces in relation to initiatives and programs related to the liaison role; and
  • As local funding permits, attend ASCCC statewide events related to the liaison role.

The ASCCC maintains a variety of specialized listservs for the purpose of distributing official business of the ASCCC, the CCC Chancellor’s Office, and other formally recognized practitioners and stakeholders. These listservs are for distribution only, so they only disseminate information; recipients may not reply.

Liaisons can sign up for the ASCCC liaison listservs at https://asccc.org/signup-newsletters.

Individuals with any additional questions or desiring any additional information should contact info [at] asccc.org (info[at]asccc[dot]org).


Bruno, Julie. (2016, February) Establishing CTE, Legislative, and Noncredit Liaison Positions. Senate Rostrum. https://asccc.org/content/establishing-cte-legislative-and-noncredit-li….

[1] The text of all ASCCC resolutions can be found at https://www.asccc.org/resources/resolutions.

[2] For information on current legislation, see the ASCCC legislative updates at https://asccc.org/legislative-updates.