Local Community College Governance

What is it?

California’s 112 community colleges enroll more than two million students. They are organized into 72 districts managed by boards of trustees elected by voters in each district. Under the state constitution and laws enacted by the state legislature, the boards of trustees are responsible for the colleges. However, under rules written by a state agency, the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO), many decisions require the formal agreement of faculty committees known as academic senates, which are not accountable to the public.

Why is it important?

While some of the state’s community colleges are exemplary, California has more than its share of community colleges experiencing perpetual difficulty managing their operations responsibly. The conflict over leadership roles has contributed to acrimonious and long lasting disputes at many colleges, preventing colleges from giving adequate attention to the needs of students and the community. California Competes is taking formal steps to restore decision-making to locally elected trustees so that they can effectively manage the institutions in the public interest.

Related News

CCC governance

Governance that works

While management dysfunction is too common at California’s community colleges, not every college has fallen victim to the confusion created by the state Board of Governors. A number of colleges have instead established shared governance structures that are modeled on successful approaches at other colleges and universities in California and across the country. Here are three examples.

WAMO Cover

Beyond the headline: Opening up the dialogue about California Community Colleges

Read Lande’s blog post looking at Washington Monthly’s article about continuing management dysfunction at California’s community colleges which leaves no one accountable for decision making, and why fixing this dysfunction might not be enough.


Examples of decision-making confusion

California’s community colleges are burdened by an only-in-California decision-making structure that thwarts rather than values leadership and collaboration. Here, we’ve launched a series of blog posts about how this broken decision-making structure is undermining higher education in California, and how the problem can be fixed.

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Related Press Releases

California Competes files a legal challenge that will help improve California Community Colleges

California Competes filed a legal challenge with the California Community College (CCC) Board of Governors asserting that the regulations that provide veto power to academic senates are invalid, illegal and should be reversed. Our legal...

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Related Reports


Clear Accountability: Student Success as a System Priority

Clear Accountability

This brief shows that establishing California Community Colleges as an independent and autonomous entity can help California toward its goal of graduating more students on time with the skills they need for good jobs.

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Related Events

CCBO Presentation

Bob Shireman speaks at Community College Business Officers' Annual International Conference

Bob Shireman was the keynote speaker at the 2013 Community College Business Officers' annual conference where he provided examples of how improving higher education takes more than slogans and quick fixes but instead requires digging...

California Competes speaks at ACCCA Annual Conference

Robert Shireman was a keynote speaker at the annual conference of The Association of California Community College Administrators.  He addressed issues relating to "faculty primacy" and spoke to the confusion around Academic Senate “10+1 academic...

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