Senate covers emergency procedures, curriculum and degrees

Joseph Espiritu

The Academic Senate met Wednesday to discuss the current state of the college curriculum, mid-year degrees, items discussed during student success board presentation, campus emergencies and the academic calendar for 2014 to 2015.

Psychology instructor Kris Leppien-Christensen announced that the campus is looking at having a flex-week activity in the spring where an open forum will be held on curriculum issues that might not be resolved during the fall semester.

“Some of the new problems that have popped up that some of you have experienced in CurricUNET have actually been linked to the district’s end with CurricUNET,” Leppien-Christensen said, adding that it’s not a CurricUNET-centered issue.  “The goal is to have someone from CurricUNET and someone from the district and hopefully we’ll get them into a room where the two can work together to resolve the issue.”

CurricUNET is a commonly-used software for program content and workflow by colleges within the state and provides features that aids in streamlining the curriculum process.

Leppien-Christensen also mentioned mid-year degrees, which are specific to SB-1440 transfer degrees as they are currently awaiting approval from the state.

These specific degrees are a part of a law passed with SB-1440, which grants students who complete the program with a 2.0 GPA or higher admittance to California State University system.  The bill does not specify a campus and states that a student cannot change their major once accepted.

“Geography and Math are ready to be submitted to the state for approval; however, whether we’ll be able to offer these degrees mid-year is still to be determined as we normally work on an academic year basis,” he said in an e-mail. ” For example, the 2012-2013 academic year consists of Fall 2012, Spring 2013, and Summer 2013.  Therefore, degrees and courses normally need to be approved the academic year prior to the year in which the course is taught or the degree is offered.” 

History and geology are two additional subjects being considered for transfer degrees.

The senate also covered the student success presentation by the Board of Trustees, which highlighted the relationship established by the faculty to move forward with the student success task force.

During the discussion some instructors voiced their concerns on conflicts that might arise between the college serving recent high school graduates, transfer and current students considering that the college is under a no -growth rule.

“We have students coming from other community colleges who cannot get their courses at their colleges and they’re coming here, especially for the online classes and we have our own population we need to take care of,” an instructor said.

“It is an issue and I know that our board is concerned when they learned that we are using our funds to educate individuals outside our district zone,” Donald Busche, the vice president of instruction said. “The feelings that I’ve heard, is that the monies that we get in this district are generated by the tax-payers in this districts and we should be serving them first then the others, but we have no way to do that  – we have open enrollments so we can’t exclude people.  It’s a difficult situation.”

The topic moved on to finding solutions in which a possible priority list was promoted, but Diane Pestolesi, the college’s assistant director of nursing, commented that her department was immediately told to stop by the state chancellor’s office when they found out that her department did offer priority registration for some time.

The senate, however, did agree to be more proactive in informing middle and high school students about the process of how to apply for community college.

Midway through the meeting, campus-parking coordinator Andrew Craven made an announcement about the Community Emergency Response Team certifications that the campus offered during the summer to faculty and staff.

“We now have 30 trained members,” Craven said.  “Mostly staff, some managers and soon to be hopefully a lot of faculty.”

Craven said each class cost about $8,000 with the state granting $5,000 on the first one.

“California state employees need to know that we’re also disaster workers.” Craven said, adding that campus employees who haven’t signed the California Government Code Section 3100 oath are required to do so in order to be compensated during a time of disaster.

“It is a law in this state and is in our government oath,” he said.

The senate also discussed the 2014-15 academic calendar where they found an issue with one day per week classes held on Monday’s as they might not meet the required amount of instructional hours due to holiday breaks.

“It is difficult to have the same number of each weekday when preparing the calendar so Monday, because of holidays, often has fewer days,” senate officer and geography instructor Dan Walsh said in an e-mail. “This is still being clarified as this has been done many times in the recent past.”

While there is no specific calendar deadline, the district’s Calendar Committee did meet for a meeting, Monday.

“It is too early to comment on this as there is no final calendar being presented to the board,” Walsh said. “It cannot go to them tonight so there is ample time before either the November or December Board meeting to come up with a calendar that we all can be happy with.”

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