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Shared Governance & How it Applies to Students

The California Community Colleges is guided by a process of shared governance. The board of governors maintains a consultation process to ensure representatives from all levels of the system have an opportunity to advise the chancellor on state policy decisions. The chancellor considers this information prior to making final recommendations to the board.

This process has evolved over the years into a Consultation Council composed of 18 representatives of institutional groups such as trustees, executive officers, students, administrators, business officers, student services officers, instructional officers, and representative organizations such as faculty and staff unions and associations. The council is chaired by state Chancellor Brice W. Harris and meets once per month to review and evaluate policy proposals and related issues.

Each of the 72 community college districts has a locally-elected board of trustees. These individuals are responsive to members of their community. Trustees also oversee the operations and budgets of local colleges within their districts.

What is "shared governance"?

Education Code 70902(b)(7) required the Board of Governors to adopt regulations that " . . . ensure faculty, staff, and students . . . the right to participate effectively in district and college governance." The regulations are contained in Title 5, sections 53200 et seq., 51023.5. and 51023.7. They mandate that the governing board "consult collegially" with the academic senate on academic and professional matters, and that staff and students have the opportunity for "effective participation" in decisions that affect them.

The term "shared governance" does not appear in law or regulation, however, it is used to refer to processes that involve faculty, staff, and students in decision-making. The American Association of University Professors uses the term widely to describe institutional governance processes and the role of the faculty in university governance.

However, "governance" in community colleges also refers to the role of the board of trustees. Ensuring that faculty, students, and staff participate effectively in decision-making and making recommendations to the board does not replace the board's governance role. While the term "shared governance" is commonly used, the League and Senate encourage that its use be curtailed in favor of more precise terms.


Regulations for student involvement specify areas for participation, including grading, student codes of conduct, academic discipline, curriculum, educational programs, processes for budgeting and planning, student standards, student services planning and development, fees, and faculty evaluation and hiring. Students should have opportunity to participate and be given reasonable consideration in the development of policies, procedures and processes in these areas.

Actively involving students can be particularly challenging. The number of students involved in student government, which is the official representative, may be limited. At the same time, there may be a large number of student groups that want to be represented. The difficulties, however, do not relieve districts from the responsibility to seek student involvement.

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