Academic Senate Plenary

Over the course of the Fall semester, I attended well over 100 meetings with faculty, administrators, students and trustees. I also participated in the State wide Academic Senate Plenary. Here’s what I learned: Faculty have great strength. We are strong in dedication to our students and to the learning process. We are strong in our collective skills and experience. It’s very good that we have these strengths, because we are also strong in authority. Under Title 5 regulations and local agreements, our governing board must rely primarily on recommendations from the Academic Senate for Academic and Professional matters.

City College is changing. Financial problems, technological evolution, political pressures, the desire to improve – we could make a long list of how community colleges are changing in general and City College in particular. As the Academic Senate, by which I mean the entire body of the faculty, we have a responsibility to lead this process of change and development.

Shared Governance provides conduits for our engagement, but these are only effective if we participate. More is required from us than just voting for Executive Council members, and encouraging those new faculty who are under tenure review to sign up for subcommittees. To make the right changes in the right way for City College, we need many more voices, broad participation. Please don’t assume that I, or that anyone else involved in shared governance will represent the perspective that you have. We need to draw on the diversity of our faculty in respect to identity, life experiences, educational diversity, and diversity of viewpoints. We need everyone’s participation to make the best choices we can for students.

excerpts from Presidents report 1/14/11


Defining Student Success

ASCCC, the Statewide Academic Senate, solicited contributions from local senates towards definitions of Student Success. The context is Californa Senate Bill 1143 — first proposed as a plan to implement performance based budgeting for community colleges, but passed in the form of establishing a task force to examine Student Success. I organized several discussions at CCSF and sought informal input from others before responding to ASCCC President Jane Patton.

In my email I stressed that no single definition would cover the diversity of student educational needs at City College. We want definitions of success that reflect all of our students and not just some of them. We reject criteria that will narrow our focus from multidimensional learning to superficial credentials. And we want measurements of progress that will appropriately value those students whose rates of achievement are slowed by the need to work full-time to support a family, by the absence of role models or technological tools, or other socio-economic obstacles that the college lacks sufficient resources to ameliorate.

I accompanied my email with an article by Casey Davin from the Fall issue of ETC, our student magazine. Casey described his path from drug addiction and homelessness to a City College classroom and a very temporary home which he would have to leave soon. The editor’s note showed that he dropped out before the end of the semester. Nonetheless, I opine,  every week that he showed up for class and added something to his skill sets instead of using drugs marked a success, not a failure. Of course we want all of our students, including those with serious challenges, to make more steady progress along upward trajectories. But an accurately comprehensive definition of student success should include Casey Davin and his less certain future.

Faculty Hiring – Dec. 1 meeting

There was a meeting on Faculty Hiring at Gough Street on December 1. There was a little confusion about who was sponsoring the meeting, because the posted agenda said “Audit Committee and Equity Hearing.” but I was not invited to co-facilitate as with the other Equity Hearings, and there was no quorum for the Audit Committee. After some discussion about this, the meeting got underway with Trustee Ngo, Trustee Jackson, Student Trustee Fang, Chancellor Griffin sitting at the dais: Dean Clara Starr, Assistant Director Linda Jackson, DCC President Darlene Alioto, and myself, Academic Senate President. There were 40 or more audience members – many Dept chairs, other faculty, some administrators, very few students.

Dean Starr explained the steps of the process for hiring faculty. Dean Starr’s explanations were supplemented by comments from Linda Jackson, Darlene Alioto and myself. Topics covered included (but were not limited to) the selection of the committees, the composition of the committees (40% rule), the articulation of the screening criteria and interview questions in advance of the review of applications, the role of affirmative action monitors, the forwarding of names for 2nd interview by the Chancellor or his designee, questions for candidates about their diversity experience, the use of teaching demonstrations, Grow Your Own and the Faculty Internship Project.

State Plenary

Last Thursday-Saturday I attended the Plenary Sessions of the Academic Senate for the California Community Colleges. The first part of the conference featured breakout sessions and key note speakers. I picked up some tips on Accreditation, improved my understanding of the coming Transfer Degress (SB1440), and learned about SB 1143 which has established a task force to make recommendations on student success and metrics to be used to measure success. I enjoyed participating in the process of speaking on and voting for resolutions. One of the resolutions of particular interest to me concerned International students and registration priority. I learned that the main concern of the proposers was . The outcome was that the resolution was referred to the Executive Council for clarification. I will look for it again in the Spring and make sure it doesn’t contain prejudicial language or seek to impose registration decisions on colleges.  Several of the resolutions passed contained recommendations for local senates. I will be posting those on our Academic Senate website in a few days.

Equity Hearing: International Students

October 25, 2010. Notes on concerns expressed by students, rearranged here by topic. Chancellor Griffin addressed many of these concerns during his remarks.

Space/Facilities. Space provided for international students is insulting. Not enough room to go, hang out and talk to friends. For 1,300 international students there are only two tables, three computers.  It’s in the new building, but it’s too small, it’s hidden in the back, not sufficient for their needs. There should be a computer lab available near their space. Problem with loud fans near MUB 125. Students get headaches.

Counseling. There aren’t enough counselors for international students, so they may have to wait for two hours to talk to a counselor. Students can’t wait for an appointment when they have urgent questions about visa status.  Not enough counselors, they’re getting old and frustrated. One student expressed concerns about counselors who only spend a few minutes with students and don’t supply enough help with registration, educational plan, jobs on campus.

Bilingual counselors are needed who can speak Tagalog, Japanese, etc. A Vietnamese student’s experience was that she was very lost when she first came until a bilingual counselor helped her do the Educational plan and everything she needed.

Registration Priority. New international students have no priority registration date, so they can’t get into the classes they want and end up paying for classes they don’t even want to take, that don’t lead to their goals. Counselors will phone teachers looking for space in classes for them, but the school should give the students priority. Students who can’t get into the classes they need are slowed down in their progress, and may need to be here four years before they have all the transfer requirements, meaning it takes 6 years to get a B.A. To stay in status, they must sign up and pay for classes they don’t need/want, unnecessary cost they can’t afford.  Families had to work very hard to earn the money to send students here. Need better services.

Employment and Internships. Employment options are very limited for international students, by some need to work to support themselves and their families. One students talked about taking three jobs paying $8.00 per hour, not enough to support herself and her family. International students have to pay more than residents, they want on-campus jobs. For a fourth semester student, almost ready to transfer, internship opportunities that he finds on the internet all seem to require citizenship. Along with education, he needs to get valuable experience from working.

Meals. Culinary Arts students get free food, why not international students?

Housing. Difficulties in finding housing. International students  need service to help them find a place to live because they don’t know where it’s safe, where it’s not safe, etc. or how to find housing they can afford. One student asked about how much to expect too have to pay for housing.

Financial Aid. Paying the fees is a struggle. One student from Vietnam told us that his parents sold their house to send him here. International students can’t apply for financial aid and scholarships that are open only to citizens.

Thanks. Some students expressed thanks for the support they’ve received at City College.

International Students good ambassadors. If provided with good services, international students are good ambassadors who will bring more students to CCSF from around the world.

A student asked how City College is getting the money to pay for the restoration of classes.

Report to October Board of Trustees Meeting

Since the last Board of Trustees meeting, the Academic Senate Executive Council has met twice. Our work has included faculty appointments to the Accreditation Self-Study and to Shared Governance committees, work on the strategic plan, approval of an Administrative job announcement, some curricular topics, review of draft Board policies, and other issues. For the draft Board policies, I have sent the results of Executive Council review to the Chancellor and to President Marks. The short version is that we will need responses from the Board or its appropriate committees before we can conclude our review of those policies. We’ll be happy to continue our work on these at that point.

I have written an explanation of the Academic Senate’s process for the review of issues within Shared Governance.  This is posted on the Senate website.

The Academic Senate Office has very nearly completed compiling responses to the Board’s Self-Assessment instrument. Coming up on our list is assembling information about Board/Senate Agreements requested by Trustee Ngo.

The Accreditation Self-Study effort is up and running. Although I’ve begged and pleaded, we have far fewer volunteers this time than we started with last time around. I’d like to highlight that administrators have really responded to our requests for help, even many who are brand new or filling more than one role — big thank you’s.  Many faculty who would like to join the Self-Study effort just can’t add this onto what they already must do. They have more students, more papers to grade, there are a number of initiatives going forward, as you know, with new curricula to put into place, changes to make or respond to, etc. In spite of this many faculty are engaged in the Accreditation Self-Study process and are working very hard.

I was very happy to join Trustees Ngo and Fang and our Chancellor at the first two Equity Hearings, last Friday and this past Monday. There are three more scheduled. The dates, times and topics are up on the Academic Senate website, among other places.

The initial review phase of the Strategic Plan ended a few weeks ago. More than 20 constituent groups received visits from team members and provided thoughtful feedback and an additional 20 + individuals sent in suggestions and comments. As we speak, team members are revising the Strategic Priorities and Major Objectives  to incorporate feedback and making plans for the next round of sun-shining, which will kick off with Listening Sessions at John Adams auditorium November 8 and at the Downtown campus on November 9. Then the following week, the Strategic plan will be the topic of an Equity Hearing on November 15 at the Ocean Campus.

At the last regular Board meeting you received an Employee and Hiring Data Report and you referred the topic of Assessment of Academic Faculty Hiring Patterns to your Audit Committee. My current understanding is that the November meeting of the committee will NOT be addressing this issue. Is that correct? And do you have any estimate of when the Audit Committee will take it up? The more notice, the more inclusive. [Trustee Ngo and the Chancellor responded this meeting will be held sometime in November, date to be determined.]

Early tomorrow morning I leave for Monterey for a meeting connected to the State Academic Senate process. Information about the State Academic Senate Plenary is up on our website, I welcome input from anyone about the issues that will be decided there.

Setting the Agenda of Executive Council

The President of the Academic Senate, usually in consultation with the officers, sets the agenda for Executive Council meetings. Once the meeting is in progress, changes to the agenda (including what to omit for lack of time) are made by the President with the consent of or at the suggestion of the Council.

The Constitution of the Academic Senate requires the President to “place an item on the agenda of the Council meeting (a) at the request of any Council member or (b) on the receipt of a signed, written request to the President by at least 10 members of the Senate.” The President can draw on the precedents of past practice and the advice of former and current officers and members of the Council for guidance in setting the agenda. Here are some practices that the current president is following for placing items on the agenda. Please notice that these are guidelines, not rules, and that each list has been given in alphabetical order, not priority order.

High priority agenda items:

  • Academic and professional issues with wide impact (e.g. Strategic Plan)
  • Any time sensitive issue
  • Exigent requests from the Chancellor (e.g. recommendations re Administrative positions)
  • Formal requests from Board of Trustees committee (e.g. Board policies)
  • Formal requests from the President of the Board of Trustees
  • Old business not yet finished

Other agenda items (as time permits):

  • Informational issues
  • Requests from Academic Senate members
  • Requests from Executive Council members
  • Requests from individual members of the Board of Trustees
  • Requests from students, classified staff, administrators, or members of the public
  • Title V and WASC related issues that are not time sensitive

When there are multiple items of the same type, for example, multiple Administrative positions to review, or multiple Board Policies to review, a common practice is to agendize one or two of them for each meeting, prioritizing them either in the order received or according to the priority suggested by the sender.

Shared Governance and the Academic Senate

There are three ways for the Academic Senate to review any issue:

1)      The President may speak as “a representative of the Senate on any matter within the purview of the Senate so long as the President does not make unauthorized recommendations on behalf of the Senate.” (Constitution, Article VI) This is quick, but carries less authority than other methods, so it is not suitable for the formal review of official college policy.

2)      An issue may be discussed and voted on at a meeting of the Executive Council of the Academic Senate. Since this is the method most commonly used for the review of Board policies, the setting of the agenda for Academic Senate Executive Council is discussed at length below.

3)      An issue may be discussed and voted on by the Academic Senate at a special or plenary meeting. Our Constitution and By Laws govern the scheduling, agendas, and quorum for special and plenary meetings. Decisions made by the Academic Senate supersede decisions made by its Executive Council. For example, a special meeting of the Academic Senate was held in March, 2010 to make recommendations on a draft board proposal.

August 26th Board of Trustees meeting

There was a presentation on our CCSF Women’s Badminton team, which won the State Championship in Pasadena in May. Congratulations to Head Coaches Coni Staff and Fred Glosser, the assistant coaches, and most of all, to our student athletes!

A resolution on a Sunshine policy was referred to committee in order to revise it appropriately so that it may be adopted fairly soon. we shared with the Board some of the many concerns received about the draft on the agenda, which was quite different from a version that has already been worked on. Look for a final draft of the Sunshine policy to come through Shared Governance.

For a draft policy (BP 3050: Institutional Code of Ethics) we presented the reasons in writing why the Academic Senate (Exec Council meeting of March 17, 2010) recommended against adopting it as written.  The Board did not adopt the policy.

My report to the Board included a mention of our adding a public comment section to the beginning of Executive Council meetings. Stay tuned for more changes to let in more Sunshine.

August 25th Academic Senate Executive Council Meeting

Approved minutes of this meeting will be posted on the Academic Senate website in due course. A few hightlights:

  • Presentation on the draft CCSF Strategic Plan. Learn more at: Write to me at or come to the next meeting at Civic Center Campus on Sept. 8 at 2:30 to contribute your feedback to inform the Senate’s review of the plan.
  • The decision was made to select the Committee on Committee members by nomination and vote from the floor. This election is scheduled for the Sept. 8 meeting.
  • Chief Barnes spoke during the public comment section. His main points were: 1) If there are problems, don’t hesitate to call Campus police. 2) Remember to use you hanging parking permit! (I forgot on Friday and got a warning) If you get a parking ticket that you wish to dispute, contact Campus Police immediately. If you contact them right away, they may be able to correct errors, before it goes to DPT.
  • Several Executive Council members volunteered to work on the issue of creating an open discussion forum — email list or wiki or — they’ll investigate the options.