Governance that works

Examples from California community colleges

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.

CCC governance

Sacramento City College. Management at the institution is guided by The Blue Book, a structure for participatory decision-making. According to a report by a peer review team, the college has taken accrediting recommendations seriously, addressing them “with a commendable spirit of collegiality” and “a blame-free culture.” There is “strong feeling of unity and pride across the college.” A review of accreditation findings since 2003 indicates that the college has not been subject to any sanctions.

San Bernardino Valley College. Overall management at SBVC occurs through a College Council that includes the president of the academic senate and representatives of other campus constituencies.  The last accreditation visiting team found  “a vibrant faculty that is living up  to its potential as academic leaders” and a “well-functioning governance process that articulates the decision making process and role that faculty, staff, administration, and students can play in the quest to become a more effective college.” While SBVC’s district Board of Trustees acknowledges the state regulations, the Board’s policy makes explicit that the academic senate provides advice only and that the Board has “final responsibility for developing all policies” and that the academic senate does not have veto power (“The decision of the Board on all policy shall be final.”) The college has not been subject to any accreditation sanctions.

Foothill College’s new handbook describes the college’s integrated decision-making system, developed in recent years to include all constituency groups without having the bifurcation that the state regulations have engendered at many colleges. The college has received praise for its progress in developing student learning outcomes, and it is making progress in its efforts to promote greater participating in decision making.

Issues: Local Community College Governance