Academic Senate convenes to discuss issues

MaryAnne Shults

Saddleback College’s Academic Senate convened in the Administration building’s conference room Oct. 1. Topics on the agenda included issues relative to the Saddleback’s accreditation, next year’s calendar, a smoke-free campus and the potential move of the Communication Arts department to the Advanced Technology and Education Park in Tustin.

In accordance with Title 5 of the Administrative Code of California, Section 53200, the Academic Senate is a faculty organization whose primary function is to make recommendations with respect to academic and professional matters. According to Educational Code, the Academic Senate is also responsible for jointly developing with the District policies and procedures related to faculty hiring (section 87360B) and administrative retreat rights (section 87458A).

Once President Bob Cosgrove called the meeting to order, the agenda was adopted and minutes from the prior meeting approved and the floor was opened for public comments.

Miki Mikolajczak said that priority admissions for the fall 2009 term for the University of California system opens Nov. 1; however, applicants can complete the form now and submit on opening day. She also said that the Saddleback’s Transfer Center will hold workshops to help applicants with the forms.

There was discussion concerning Distance Learning students’ verification, and that it is the student completing class assignments and exams, and not their proxy. One response was that in-house instructors do not verify students’ identification either.

In his report, Cosgrove advised the Senate that the college’s governance now has a focused Accreditation Progress Report to be presented to the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges and Western Association of Schools and Colleges on the due date of Oct. 15. The report addresses recommendations in a letter from ACCJC President Dr. Barbara A. Beno dated Jan. 31, 2006, available on the college’s Web site at http://www.saddleback.edu/gov/senate/PDF/Action_Letter.pdf. The draft copy of the 86-page report is also available at http://www.saddleback.edu/gov/senate/documents/DRAFT – September14 – MASTER DOC v1.pdf. A copy of the final report will be available on the Web site.

The president’s report continued with remarks about upcoming planned committee meetings of faculty groups, administration, and other college governance groups including the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, which coordinates several committees regarding curriculum, program review and Student Learning Outcomes.

Cosgrove’s report noted that there has been talk by some faculty, staff and students about making the campus smoke free. Their argument is that it would eliminate the litter of cigarette butts around the campus, but more importantly, a healthier environment overall.

“In the quad near the BGS building, the cigarette smoke is going right into the building,” Cosgrove said. “The smoke collects in the overhang of the coffee cart.” He also said that in his research, he found approximately 130 campuses that are now smoke-free.

Cosgrove also said that the Associated Student Government, as well as the college’s Foundation, bookstore and counseling department have determined that some students have dropped classes because they cannot afford to purchase the required textbooks. The Senate has invited representatives from these groups to the next Senate meeting to discuss alternative options to this issue. Two suggestions made were to provide copies to be made available on reserve in the library, and purchasing necessary copyrights to allow posting required material online.His report also included a summarization of upcoming events relative to faculty training, Part-Time Task Force, and Hiring Prioritization Committee, among other issues.

With regards to old business, the Resolution for Department Chair and Faculty was adopted. This document resolves, “curriculum and program development are the purview of the faculty and Academic Senate.”

The academic calendar for 2010-2011 was discussed. Several felt that it would better serve the college community if the spring semester started two weeks later, moving spring break to later in the term, and moving some dates in May to allow for end-of-year functions.

Discussion regarding the Director of Nursing position was tabled due to the fact that there was a division meeting being held simultaneously, whereas further information could be reported at the next Senate meeting.

The final topic on the agenda was the potential move of the Communications Arts department to ATEP. Department Chairman Charlie Myers said this announcement took him by surprise as he was only given one day’s notice, and no one from the department had been advised of the possible move. He presented a nine-page document he wrote with a powerful defense as to why the department should stay on Saddleback campus. These factors included the integral links to the Saddleback campus with other facilities and classes, and the proximity to ATEP of competing programs at Orange Coast and Santa Ana colleges, which both have separate facilities for their film and video production and instruction. The department currently has 1,086 students in 32 sections that will be directly impacted by the move to the ATEP campus, geographically about 18 miles from Saddleback.

“The total number of students enrolled has grown almost 50 percent,” said Myers. “We had 750 students in 2005 and then 833 in 2006.”

Vice President Miki Mikolajczak brought up the consideration as to why move a program so far away during this slow economy, and that Saddleback is the only community college that is geographically close for students residing in South Orange County.

Motions were adopted to include additional background to support why the Communication Arts Department should not be relocated to present to the Board of Trustees at their next meeting, and that the decision making process for relocating divisions, departments, or programs needs to be more transparent and include all campus governing bodies.

The Saddleback College Academic Senate is a representative body, with each instructional area receiving a senator for every 10 full-time faculty members or portion thereof, to a maximum of four. The next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 15.

(Editor’s note: As of publication, Mr. Myers said that the issue had been discussed with the administration. “It appears that the president, vice president, and all the campus’ governing bodies agree that we belong here at Saddleback and that’s where we are going to stay,” Myers said. “We are pleased with all the president’s support.”)

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