Academic Senate

Message from the ASCSU Chair
Diana Guerin (Fullerton)


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Toward a More Proactive Senate

As I conclude two years as Academic Senate CSU Chair, I have taken some time to track down the platform that I discussed during my candidate’s speech at the Academic Senate CSU meeting in May 2012. It included commitments to promote academic excellence, advocate for the CSU, and represent the voice of CSU faculty based on formal positions of the ASCSU. Among the action items I pledged to work on were improving internal and external communications of the ASCSU, improving our internal operations by expanding sustainable practices through the use of technology and establishing timelines with committee chairs, and collaborating with other stakeholders on items of mutual concern to advance the CSU. I hope that I have stayed true to the commitments I made and also that you can see progress on each of the action items over the past two years.

Communications

To raise awareness of the ASCSU and its work, we launched this web-based Faculty-to-Faculty newsletter. The newsletter continues to develop as each new editor contributes ideas and leadership. This year, delegation reports summarizing the resolutions approved at each plenary and resolutions under first reading for campus consultation were distributed to the campus senate chairs. Communications to campus senate chairs with first reading items were sent in advance of plenaries to solicit campus input.

  • To raise awareness of the ASCSU and strengthen system-wide shared governance, we need to continue to expand our Faculty-to-Faculty subscriber list to reach more of our 23,000 CSU faculty.
  • We should work with campus academic senates to implement resolution AS-3162-14/FA, Facilitation of Communication between ASCSU and Faculty.

Looking forward, I hope that we can continue to strengthen strong two-way communication between the ASCSU and central administration in the Chancellor’s Office.  Whether we use the term “shared leadership” or the more traditional “shared governance,” fully achieving the mission of the CSU is facilitated when all of us pull in the same direction on major initiatives.  We will not always agree, but a full discussion of the problems to be solved and exploration of alternatives usually lead to a more successful outcome.

  • At a minimum, the Academic Senate should be included as a matter of course on the distribution list of memoranda pertaining to academic programs. This has been surprisingly (and disappointingly) challenging to implement with reliability, although progress is being made.
  • CO Liaisons to our standing committees are encouraged to take advantage of their position to share information and provide advice during the committee discussions, particularly when resolutions are in development.
  • An even stronger sign of shared governance would be to include the ASCSU chair in the regular meetings of the Executive Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs and direct reports.

Internal Operations

The ASCSU has established practices to support sustainability. In the past, paper copies of resolutions under consideration were copied and distributed during our plenary meetings. We have shifted to electronic copies, thus saving thousands of sheets of paper at each plenary and staff time required to copy and distribute the resolutions. We also continue to build capacity of our committees to conduct work via virtual meetings, thus saving travel expenses and faculty time. Finally, we have used a master calendar to coordinate the building of agendas and collections of minutes to support shared governance.

  • We need to continue to build capacity in our committees to support their work between plenary meetings and also maximize effectiveness during virtual interim meetings.
  • Virtual interims are real time, and committees need full attendance to be most effective. The ASCSU calendar is available in this newsletter. Senators, please mark your schedules now.

Collaborations

We have a number of collaborative efforts with the Chancellor’s Office accomplished and in process.

For example, the Outstanding Faculty of the CSU website was developed and launched.  This website highlights the contributions of the CSU professoriate in all areas of faculty endeavors (teaching, scholarly/creative activities, service). Related to faculty recognition, on June 2nd, Chancellor White announced that Trustee Emeritus Stanley T. Wang has agreed to gift $300,000 to provide a $20,000 award to each of four faculty and one staff member annually for the next three years. Several campuses also established additional awards to recognize outstanding faculty accomplishment during the past few years. An important aspect of this website is the education of the internal and external stakeholders on the multi-faceted faculty role and why tenure-track hiring is critical to the mission of the CSU. The CSU has also launched an effort to hire 700 tenure-track faculty. The collaborative efforts of the CO Communications, campuses, and Chancellor relating to faculty recruitment and retention should be recognized.

Another collaboration the ASCSU has engaged in for the past several months with students, unions, and the Chancellor’s Office and Board is the budget advocacy effort related to the state budget. Working together, we have made a strong case in the California Legislature for the CSU’s need for $95 million above the January budget. We will know the results of that collaborative effort shortly.

Finally, we are working together with the CSU and Assembly Member Williams on legislation to ensure the continuous presence of a faculty trustee on the CSU Board of Trustees. The concept was included on the Board’s legislative program for the year, and we have been working in close collaboration with the CSU Sacramento Office, other stakeholders, and campuses to support AB 2324.

Possible future collaborative efforts are many. The ASCSU has encouraged an evidence-based culture in establishing academic policies and initiatives (AS-3103-13/APEP), and as the faculty leaders of the CSU we are well-suited to collaborate in assessing the evidence and making recommendations. How can technology be used effectively to support academic quality, access, completion, and affordability in the CSU?  The implementation of CourseMatch in terms of facilitating student success is an opportunity for collaboration. Another pertains to student success in the Early Start Program. I encourage the Academic Senate to delve further into examining the conditions under which student success is most positive in the various instantiations of the Early Start Programs. This experiment has some variables that can be assessed (unit count, instructional mode, math vs. English, etc.) to see how the initiative might be improved. As I looked at the data, I also wondered about attrition (students who were admitted to the CSU but did not begin in the fall).

  • I encourage the Academic Senate committees to identify key initiatives where white papers (or communications in other formats) can be developed to provide advice based on empirical evidence.

In the recent past, the Academic Senate CSU objected to what it perceived as unilateral decision-making and the pursuit of “a culture of compliance” (AS-2960-10/FA). The Academic Senate CSU has the authority to speak for the faculty of the CSU, and we need to continue our efforts to make our presence known and respected on the matters within our purview. Let us identify and take the lead on the important matters within our system by building a compelling and proactive agenda to guide the CSU.