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Chaparral 2014-2015: 23.4 Speaking of the Senate

Speaking of The Senate (March 2015)

Speaking of the Senate:
What Makes GCC So Special? Another Perspective.

by Andrew Young

Academic Senate President



The employees of Glendale Community College have worked hard over the years to build a high-quality educational environment for our students.  We do not always do things the way other community colleges do, but whatever it is we are doing, it seems to be working.  We are accumulating a substantial amount of evidence that our college is living up to the claim, articulated in our Vision Statement, that we are “the Greater Los Angeles Region’s premier learning community.”

One thing that makes us stand out from other institutions is our extensive governance structure.  It is complex, and unwieldy at times, but it gives lots of opportunities for people to get involved in how the college is run and what our plans and priorities should be.  There are many community colleges where this is not the case, where almost all the decisions are made by the college administration.  While this may be “efficient,” I can tell you from personal conversations I have had that many faculty at those institutions feel disengaged, and feel that there is no point in making an extra effort to try to get involved because “nobody ever listens” to them and “no good ever comes of it.”  While getting involved in governance at GCC does not mean that everything is going to go the way you want it to, the faculty and classified staff do have significant input into college policies and procedures, planning and budgeting, and the programs and services we offer.

If you are not engaged at GCC, it is probably because you do not seek out engagement.  There are abundant opportunities to get involved on college governance.  Yet some of you don’t.  It is easy to rationalize that we are too busy, but most committees only meet for an hour once a month, and usually only eight months a year.  Everyone could find a couple hours a month to commit to fulfilling this part of their professional responsibilities if they tried.

But maybe you are already spending forty, fifty, or more, hours a week working hard to make your classes the best they can be, and helping students achieve their educational goals, and you are spent.  There are many more passive, enjoyable ways that you can participate in the college community, and recharge your energy at the same time.  You could go to one of the many special lectures and/or performances that we have on campus.  There are the Science Lecture Series, the Humanities/Social Science Lecture series, and the Business Lecture series, which offer many interesting and informative presentations that you are unlikely to ever have another chance to experience.

There are plays, recitals, movie screenings and art exhibits on campus.  There are lively student activities in the Plaza Vaquero during the mid-day college hour.  If nothing else, take a walk.  One of the things I love most about working at a college (and specifically this college) is that, if I ever get bored during the day, all I have to do is walk across campus.  I can always find someone interesting to talk to or something interesting going on.

Another enjoyable way to get involved with the college is to participate in the social events.  The Academic Senate sponsors many of these specifically to give the faculty opportunities to get together and connect with each other with no serious business that needs to be done.  We sponsor the Parker Award luncheon, the Distinguished Faculty Award lecture and luncheon, and the annual holiday party, and we help support the end of year party with the Guild.  At any of these, you can have a nice meal, chat with some colleagues, and just have a nice, social time.  If you have only been at the college a few years, this is an opportunity to meet people from other areas of the campus.  If you have been at the college a while, bring one of the newer faculty or staff members, or an adjunct faculty member, and introduce them to a few people.

Although I hope to see all faculty involved in governance, however you choose to be involved at GCC, be involved! Involvement in the college life outside the classroom helps build community, allows us to get to know each other better, and can help establish connections that can lead to collaborations that we might otherwise not have known were even possible.  Whether through the governance system or social events, GCC offers you more opportunities to get involved than many other community colleges do.  Just another thing that makes us special.


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