Shared-governance Strained by Conflicting Goals

Stunned by Accreditor, City College of San Francisco Faces Hard Choices (Chronicle of Higher Education, July 7, 2013)

…the financial troubles have a story behind them: The City College [of San Francisco] has a diverse but ultimately unwieldy governance structure, in which faculty members play an unusually powerful role, according to the accrediting agency.  With the power of their shared-governance system, faculty members helped ensure their priorities as the City College coped with sharp reductions in state financial assistance during the recession. Such decisions included protecting an abundance of noncredit courses, which employ faculty members but generate less revenue…”

Mr. Shireman, a former top official in the U.S. Education Department, said the City College’s broad course catalog in part reflects its unusual role as a designated provider of adult education in San Francisco, a function handled in most cities by the elementary and secondary schools.  But over all, he said, the union has been part of a divisive leadership structure at City College, in which faculty members have been overly fearful of community colleges’ focusing too tightly on job training. Some faculty members have suggested that is [the accrediting agency’s] real agenda, with the commission part of a conservative strategy to narrow the mission of publicly financed education.

IMPLICATION

As costs rise and revenues remain flat, reduced or decline, faculty will feel increasing pressure to reduce the scope of their institutions missions or find new ways to lower costs while maintaining services and programs.  Those faculty already working with new models for learning development and delivery will have the ‘early adopter’ advantage over faculty who insist that change occur solely on their terms.  Faculty who find and champion new ways to increase access, quality and student success will be the leaders of the New Learning ecosystems.

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