Academic Senate President Shannon Mills announced her resignation from her campus leadership position on Nov. 30.
Mills, who is also an anthropology professor, will serve through the end of the fall semester when Vice President Constance Carter will become the Academic Senate President.
The Academic Senate is the faculty government on campus, and is responsible for making recommendations that will result in student and faculty success. This includes approving curriculum and grading protocols as well as program development and policy implementation.
The Academic Senate is considered “the voice for the faculty in the shared governance process,” according to the school website.
“The faculty ultimately decides what happens in the classroom,” said Psychology Professor James Frazee.
Carter, an English professor, has been involved with the Academic Senate for more than 15 years.
In that time “there has always been a certain degree of hostility amongst Senate members,” said Carter.
In November, members of the faculty began circulating a petition to recall Mills.
“I knew things were brewing and I know they were questioning whether to attempt the recall,” said Carter.
Sociology Professor Donnisha Lugo, who is also the Academic Senate secretary, sent an email to staff members in early November expressing her critique of the Academic Senate and efforts to recall Mills.
“The people who are responsible for this act of collusion have individual, personal vendettas against President Mills and have found a way to circumvent a fair recall process,” Lugo wrote in an email to faculty members that was shared on Twitter.
Mills explained that the primary initiative of the Academic Senate is to improve student success, but with faculty having “abnormal amounts of stress,” faculty cannot focus on a common goal.
It has become a “deplorable mess that is no longer functioning,” Frazee said.
The Academic Senate is specifically for faculty members, but students are encouraged to attend Academic Senate meetings, too.
Journalism major Halimeh Edais, 20, attended the Nov. 30 Academic Senate meeting where Mills announced her resignation.
“I’m very sad to see Mills leave, but I understand why,” said Edais.
Faculty members say the ambiance of the Academic Senate meetings has been troublesome. Mills described the meetings as “uncivil” and “hard to be self-reflective.”
Frazee described the meetings as lacking of participation from faculty.
“They lacked unity, but not professionalism,” said Edais.
Edais was the president of the Associated Students of Cosumnes River College from September 2017 to September 2018, and has attended various Academic Senate meetings.
“They all are concerned about students, they just have different ideas and sometimes they argue on who’s right,” Edais said.
In the last year, the Academic Senate has helped with the implementation of Guided Pathways as well as the Meditation Space in the BS Building, Edais added.
Carter plans to fulfill the remainder of the Senate’s semester goals, which include the implementation of pathways and Assembly Bill 705.
“I just want to fit myself into the structure of the senate,” said Carter.
Carter plans to help facilitate the Senate’s goals, which they already have in place for the semester.
But “with interpersonal predilections, the senate is no longer a functioning body,” said Frazee.
There are also impacts beyond the senate meetings as well.
“Students will always be impacted, especially in the classroom,” said Mills. It gets to a point where you get burnt out and it’s harder to come into work, she continued.
Carter described the lack of participation in the senate as a perennial problem, with a large amount of senate committees being understaffed.
“We exist to serve the students and the minute we lose sight of that we have to sit down,” Carter said.