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Report 98-9: Toward a Unified State System: A Report and Recommendations on the Governance of the California Community Colleges

Published by The California Postsecondary Education Commission

December 1998

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In April of 1995, the California Postsecondary Education Commission completed a year-long planning process focused on the needs of the state for postsecondary education in the 21st century. In that report, The Challenge of The Century, the Commission noted the importance of the community colleges in meeting the educational needs beyond high school of Californians. The Commission also noted that allegations of inconsistency in operations and reciprocity of course acceptance between colleges in the 71 local community college districts was inconsistent with the intent of the Master Plan for Higher Education. Accordingly, the Commission directed its staff to undertake a study to examine the California Community Colleges in an effort to identify ways in which the collection of 106 colleges might operate more as a unified state system. Particular attention was to be given to the governance structure of the colleges.

This report summarizes the major findings from two years of study, including interviews with current community college personnel, review of various governance structures in other states, and review of previous studies of the California Community Colleges that directed some attention to issues of governance. The report also provides a summary of the unintended impact of legislative mandates, regulatory requirements, and voter initiatives on the respective authority and roles of local boards of trustees and the state Board of governors. Staff analysis of the environment in which the community colleges operate did not support a radical restructuring of the community colleges as some have suggested. Rather, the Commission concludes that the goals of fostering a more unified state system while preserving significant local control can both be achieved by redistributing governance authority and administrative responsibility between the state Board of Governors and local boards of trustees. Five specific recommendations are offered for modifying and clarifying the authority and responsibility of the Board of governors and its Chancellor's Office. Two additional recommendations are offered for modifying the authority and responsibility of local boards.

The Commission accepted this report at its meeting of December 7, 1998.

Related Topics: Performance of Higher Education

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