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Chaparral 2012-2013: Speaking of the Senate...

Speaking of The Senate

Speaking of the Senate

By Michael Scott
Academic Senate President


As of this writing, the elections have not taken place, and we don’t know the results for Prop 30. Since the beginning of the Fall semester, there has been a lot of discussion on what to do if Prop 30 fails from an instructional standpoint. These discussions have taken place at Enrollment Management, Academic Affairs, Senate, Mini Cabinet, Campus Executive and at other committee meetings. Not much of the information released so far is positive. Listed below are some of the things that are going to happen, regardless if Prop 30 passes or fails:


1. We will not go into decline. The administration has agreed we will not cut more than about 150 classes for Spring semester if Prop 30 fails. GCC will not cut the 500 classes that were presented at the budget presentation to the Board. The good news is we get to offer 150 more classes if Prop 30 passes.

2. Summer intercession is on life support. The Board approved budget has no intercessions for 2012-2013. The budget was based on Prop 30 failing. Should Prop 30 pass, we can begin negotiations on offering a summer session.

3. All instructional programs are being evaluated. There are multiple reasons why, but they are not being looked at solely to determine if they are to be eliminated. Some programs will be reduced, some suspended for a period of time, and some programs may be enhanced.


At the special Campus Executive meetings held in October, Dr. Riggs has emphasized the need to look at GCC as a whole and determine our core mission. We have a directive from the Chancellor’s office to focus on Basic Skills, CTE, and transfer courses. We can no longer be everything to everyone. Based on our financial situation and the outlook of future funding from the state in the foreseeable future, the discussion has started on the need to downsize as a District. We have already reduced course offering by about 25% from our highest point. Instruction will not be the only area downsized.

The state-wide Academic Senate paper on Program Discontinuance: A Faculty Perspective Revisited lists some steps to avoid when reducing or eliminating programs. They are as follows:


  • Taking precipitous action based on a January governor’s budget message, the May Revise, or other local financial forecasts. Frequently colleges find out that the drastic measures they engaged or were about to engage were not necessary. Program discontinuance is more difficult to undo than virtually all other options. If cuts are required, a responsible, thoughtful approach is necessary, especially one that preserves the core mission of the college.
  • Going through a program discontinuance process as a well-meaning gesture without really intending to follow through or expect change from the program.
  • Using self-study aspects of program review in the program discontinuance process. While institutional data typically used in periodic program review may be necessary, program self-study aspects of program review should not be used to engage program discontinuance.
  • Targeting a program solely or primarily on the basis of its size or projected cost savings to yield a certain sought-after amount of money
  • Only considering program discontinuance when fiscal emergency looms
  • Deciding which programs to reduce or eliminate based on personality


The Senate’s Enhancement/Sunset policy comes up often as a means to reduce programs. This policy was not intended to be used for program reductions. It is to be used only for program evaluations that meet specific criteria. A program discontinuance policy is something that the Senate needs to develop and in the future will take on as a challenge.

4. Course offerings need to be prioritized. Enrollment Management has been working on a methodology to prioritize courses. It is in the beginning stages, but it will ramp up shortly. Dr. Ed Karpp has produced a draft enrollment management plan outlining enrollment management principles, curriculum management, and student progress. The curriculum management section of the plan deals with scheduling, enrollment, and course and program development. This is the area that deals with prioritization of courses.  In order to facilitate the discussion on prioritization, Dr. Karpp provided data on degrees and certificates, and courses that do not meet any IGETC/CSU breadth requirements/degree or certificate. This data will be used to develop a methodology for determining course priorities.

5. Instructional reorganization. There is a draft proposal by Dr. Mary Mirch for a reorganization of instruction. Dr. Riggs has directed all the VPs to look at their respective areas and to develop plans/reorganizations that will accommodate a move to a smaller, more focused mission for GCC. The instructional plan will realign the division reporting structure and give instructional responsibilities to Deans that at this time do not currently have any. The reorganization in its current form is controversial and maybe a little radical. An alternative has already been proposed. The proposed reorganization is only preliminary and will be modified.


Before anything instructional mentioned above is finalized, it will be thoroughly vetted at the Senate and  Academic Affairs. All those who wish to have their voices heard will have that opportunity. As we go forward with this effort, our students’ needs must be at the forefront in all these discussions. Changes made primarily for cost savings is a recipe for academic disaster and should be a secondary mission in the process of streamlining the educational process at GCC and providing a clearer and quicker path for students to transfer and/or receive their degrees, certificates, and skill awards.




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