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CSU Academic Senate passes resolution that aims to change state legislation

The Senate is working on legislation to help keep steady faculty representation on the Board.

The Cal State University Academic Senate is looking to ensure that faculty have consistent representation on the CSU Board of Trustees after the Board’s faculty trustee position remained vacant for five months.

In its last meeting, the Academic Senate passed a resolution asking its executive committee to draft a proposal aiming to change state legislation, according to Diana Wright Guerin, chair of the CSU Academic Senate.

The proposal, which is still being drafted, seeks to allow faculty trustees whose terms have ended to hold their positions until Gov. Jerry Brown appoints a new faculty trustee.

“The main goal is to permit an existing faculty trustee to continue until the next is named,” Guerin said.

Currently, the Academic Senate is consulting with the CSU Advocacy and State Relations Department in Sacramento to consider possible options, such as a potential grace period, as well as formulate a proposal for the Board to review, Guerin said.

In the five months it took Brown to appoint a new faculty trustee this year, Guerin said she received 20 to 23 campus resolutions that called for him to appoint someone to the position.

After receiving so many resolutions, Guerin said she visited the CSU Chancellor’s Office to ask if the previous faculty trustee, Bernadette Cheyne, could hold her position until a new appointment was made. The CSU’s General Counsel, however, said this was not possible.

The 23-campus system is the largest university system in the country, with nearly 44,000 faculty and staff members. The faculty trustee is the representative voice for all faculty members in the system, according to the CSU website.

A faculty trustee’s term on the Board commences on July 1 and expires two years later, on June 30, according to the California Education Code (CEC). In addition, faculty members cannot hold the trustee position after their terms end, even if there is no one to replace them.

According to California’s Government Code, 16 of the 25 trustees that are confirmed by the California state senate remain on the board until a replacement is named, or 60 days after their term expires, whichever comes first. But unlike the state Senate-appointed trustees, alumni, faculty, and student trustee terms expire at the end of each term, according to the CEC.

“After [Cheyne's] term expired, in order for her to continue on, she would have had to been reappointed by the governor, which was not the case,” CSU Spokesman Mike Uhlenkamp said.

While no legislation or policy defining holdovers exists in the CSU or the state, faculty representation is still susceptible to long vacancies. Holdovers refer to the extension of a position until it has been filled.

The CSU Advocacy and State Relations Department in Sacramento is conducting preliminary research, such as looking over other education boards and deciding which legislator can author the bill. Guerin said the CSU Academic Senate will meet with the department in December to iron out the details of the proposal before bringing it to a state legislator in January.

She said it should take roughly nine months to get the proposal through the legislative process.

“It is our goal that we will have a proposed legislation that the board will endorse in January,” Guerin said. “Long run, we hope to increase the number of faculty trustees, but at this time are taking steps to resolve the most immediate problem, and that is the periods where we lack of any faculty trustee.”

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