Southern California 2011 Spring Plenary

April 16, 2011

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you for supporting the resolution to add Art History to the California Community Colleges Disciplines List. We are pleased to announce that the resolution was passed unanimously today at the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC)  Spring Plenary Session 2011 in Millbrae, California.  Your letters of support were well–received by the ASCCC and demonstrated support by faculty from a broad selection of community colleges and universities in California.  The letters were an essential part of the success of this resolution.

Now that resolution has passed, Art History will be recognized as a discipline with its own minimum degree qualifications for instruction as follows:

Masters in Art History, History of Art and Architecture, or Visual Culture/Visual Studies; OR Bachelors in Art History and Masters in History; OR Masters in Art with a recorded emphasis or concentration in Art History OR the equivalent.

It is now being forwarded to the Board of Governors for the California Community Colleges. Upon adoption, these new standards will be sent to all Districts for implementation across the state.  We hope the individual Districts will implement the new standards in order to ensure a high quality of instruction in Art History and allow for the development of Art History programs at community colleges in California.

This is a great example of how change can be affected when we come together as an academic community. Thank you so very much for your letters of support.


Cristina Hernandez
Professor, History of Art and Architecture
Mt. San Antonio College

Sandra Esslinger
Professor, History of Art and Architecture

Mt. San Antonio College


Hello All,
Your support is needed. The inclusion of art history on the California Community College State Academic Disciplines list could secure jobs and create job opportunities. However, the final hearing is in the near future and support is needed.  

 There are two ways you can lend support. Both would be best, but any time you can give this is better than nothing.

  •  If you haven’t sent a letter in support to the state academic senate for the proposal, please email it to disciplineslist@asccc.orgThis is very important and an easy way to make an impact.  If you don’t have time to write a letter, simply click on this link and cut and paste the following:

I am writing in support of the inclusion of art history on the California Community College State Academic Disciplines list.  

Be sure to sign your name, position, and college affiliation.  

  • The other contribution you can make is to attend. The link for information is are two days that this will be discussed, Thursday, April 14, 2011 and Saturday, April 16, 2011.  April 14th is a hearing, where the arguments will be forwarded in favor or opposing the amendment. April 16th is the final vote where registered attendees only may speak at the pro and con mikes.  

Below is the communication regarding the disciplines list from the State Academic Senate regarding the scheduling and location. Following the letter is the summary report regarding the proposal for Art History. The rationale and support are clearly outlined. Should you send a letter of support, it is my understanding that not only will your name be added to a list of supporters, not unlike the list in the summary included below, but any additional arguments in support or against the inclusion of the discipline will be summarized and handed out with the amendment packet for representatives to carefully consider before the final vote.  

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Sandra Esslinger, Ph.D.
Professor, History of Art and Architecture
Mt. San Antonio College


February 22, 2011

Attention:  Senate Presidents, Curriculum Committee, Vice Presidents of Instruction
Subject: Disciplines List Revisions for Health, Theatre Arts, Accounting, Classics, Sustainability, Peace Studies, Future Studies, Ethnic Studies, Education, Art History, and Military Studies.

Dear Colleagues:

Last spring, we began the formal review of the Disciplines List.  As you may be aware, the Disciplines List establishes the minimum qualifications for the faculty of California Community Colleges.  This letter is to inform you that we are now approaching the end of the two-year discipline review cycle.

Enclosure 1 is a summary report of discipline revisions we have received to date.  This summary includes the proposal, rationale for the proposal, as well as the summary of testimonies received.  Please circulate this letter to your faculty for feedback.  The final hearing of the proposed Discipline List revisions is scheduled for Thursday, April 14, 2011, from 5:00 p.m.- 6:00 p.m. at the Spring 2011 Plenary Session held this year at the SFO Westin in Millbrae.  Please check for location information.  The final list of proposals will be debated and voted on at the 2011 Spring Plenary Session on Saturday, April 16, 2011, with resultant recommendations forwarded to the Board of Governors for adoption.

Please send this packet of materials to division/department chairs, curriculum committee members, your senators, vice president of instruction, and anyone else that might benefit from this information.  All information contained in this packet will also be available on the front page of our website.

The proposals submitted include:

Master’s List
*         Proposal #1: Add a degree in Kinesiology Exercise Science to the Health minimum qualifications.
*         Proposal #2: Add a degree in Fine Arts and Oral Communications to the Theatre Arts minimum qualifications.
*         Proposal #3:  Add a degree in Economics to the Accounting minimum qualifications.
*         Proposal #4:  Removed by the author.
*         Proposal #5:  Removed by the author.
*         Proposal #6:  Create a new discipline in Classics.
*         Proposal #7:  Create a new discipline in Sustainability .
*         Proposal #8:  Create a new discipline in Peace Studies.
*         Proposal #9:  Create a new discipline in Future Studies.
*         Proposal #10: Add a degree in American Studies/Ethnicity, Latino Studies, La Raza Studies, Central American Studies, Latin American Studies, Cross Cultural Studies, Race and Ethnic Relations, Asian-American Studies, and in African-American Studies to the Ethnic Studies minimum qualifications.
*         Proposal #11: Add a degree in Teaching OR a recognized K-12 subject matter AND hold or have held a state approved K-12 teaching credential to the Education minimum qualifications.
*         Proposal #12: Create a new discipline in Art History .

Link for registration:


Proposed Revision Discipline: Art History
Organization: Napa Valley College

Committee Recommendation: Go Forward/Not Forward
Reason: Agreed with testimony provided.

Exec. Recommendation: Go Forward/Not Forward
Exec. Reason: Agreed with the Committee’s recommendation.

Current Minimum Qualifications:
Add new discipline.

Proposed Change:
Masters in Art History, History of Art and Architecture, or Visual Culture/Visual Studies; OR Bachelors in Art History and Masters in History; OR Masters in Art with a recorded emphasis or concentration in Art History OR the equivalent.

The following are the primary, specific rationale for adding Art History as a separate discipline:

  • Art History is a field of study that is separate from Studio Arts and is not a specialization within the Studio Arts discipline.  Beginning in the nineteenth century, Art Historians developed the method of visual analysis, which entailed vocabulary, taxonomies, and modes of interpretation that were separate and distinct from the discourse related to the creation of Art.  The role of Art Historians who specifically did not make art, but rather interpreted art created in all historic eras, past and present, emerged during this period.  Since this time, academic preparation for Art Historians has included training in social and cultural history, a breadth of studio arts practices, and in the history of architecture, design, photography and other areas that fall outside of the traditional plastic arts.  By contrast, faculty in the Studio Arts receive academic training along narrowly defined curricular paths that develop expertise in one medium, e.g. painting, drawing, printmaking, etc., and less frequently, in multi-media.
  • The College Art Association, the primary professional association for art history and studio arts, defines Art History as a unique discipline with a distinct educational track, different standards for hiring, promotion, and retention, and degree requirements distinct from the Studio Arts.  In 2009, the College Art Association, the professional organization of Artists and Art Historians, revised its “Standards of Retention and Tenure of Art Historians” to include standards for Art Historians at two-year colleges, specifically adding the following language:

“In the case of two-year colleges, the minimum qualification should be an MA in art history. In the absence of such a degree, specific recognized equivalent professional achievement and scholarship should be regarded as qualification for appointment to professional rank, promotion, or tenure. Neither the EdD nor the MFA are appropriate degrees for faculty hired to teach art history…”

This language was written by a committee that included faculty from California Community Colleges and adopted by a panel that represented faculty in both Studio Arts and Art History from across the country.  For the purposes of consistent and professional standards in all academic contexts, CAA specifically identifies the importance of discipline expertise in the teaching of Art History at the community college level.

  • All major, accredited, baccalaureate degree-granting institutions, including California State Universities, recognize Art and the History of Art as separate fields of study.  Students pursuing an Art History major at these institutions follow a distinct and different course of study than that of Art Studio majors.  Of the 43-48 credits required for an Art History major at the CSUs, six credits are Studio Art courses, the rest comprise a sequence of Art History surveys and seminars.  Faculty in these same school systems hold qualifications in either field: Studio Art Professors hold MFAs, while Art History Professors hold Master’s or Doctorate degrees in Art History.
  • The MFA or MA in Studio Arts is not sufficient academic preparation to teach Art History courses beyond basic introductory or appreciation courses.  Faculty holding an MA or MFA in Studio arts will typically complete between 9 and 12 semester units in Art History during their tenure in a baccalaureate program, focused primarily on broad surveys of Art History, including Art History Surveys 1 and 2, Modern or Contemporary Art History, and one upper division elective course focusing on specific time periods in Art History.  MFA programs for studio artists typically require anywhere from 0 to 9 semester units of art history or theory, often creating and delivering courses geared specifically towards MFA students to fulfill these requirements, rather than placing MFA students in graduate-level Art History courses.  In California, training in Art History for MFA students runs from the highest number of potential units at UCLA, where MFA students are required to take a higher load of Art History and Theory units, to the lowest number of units at UC Davis, where MFA students are not required to take any units in Art History.  Unless a Studio Arts faculty member with an MFA education also received a minor, additional major, or other relevant professional experience in Art History, there is no guarantee by degree alone that they possess the requisite academic depth for instruction in the Art History discipline, particularly for instruction beyond basic survey courses.

The MQFACCC list is predicated on the idea that attainment of specific degrees provides sufficient training to teach the content of various disciplines.  As illustrated above, an MFA degree does not guarantee that a faculty member has had any training in Art History.  Further complicating this, MFA programs accept applicants primarily through review of a portfolio of art work, not on prior academic degrees or training.  Many applicants and completers in MFA programs hold bachelor’s degrees from other, non-art, disciplines, meaning that a person earning an MFA could actually have completed no coursework in Art History at either the baccalaureate or masters level.  This variability is another reason that the MFA is insufficient academic preparation to teach Art History courses.

  • Local Academic Senates have the authority to place a course in any and all relevant disciplines, indicating what they believe to be the appropriate academic qualifications or professional experience necessary to teach a particular course.  This authority is one of the 10+1 responsibilities of the academic senate as delineated in state regulations and is a key point in this discussion: the authority of local senates to assign courses to disciplines always balances the BOG list of minimum qualifications to teach in specific disciplines.

The inclusion of Art History on the BOG disciplines list does not mandate or require any local senate to assign basic Art History survey courses solely or jointly to the Art History discipline; local senates may, with appropriate content review, assign a survey course in Art History to both the Studio Art and Art History disciplines if they deem that either academic preparation provides adequate preparation to teach the content on the Course Outline of Record.  Local faculty and senates retain control at every step of this process and always have the right to assign courses to disciplines based on locally formulated criteria.  Inclusion of Art History on the Disciplines List will not interfere with this local control, but will allow those schools with larger or more developed programs in Art History the ability to recruit and retain instructors qualified to teach a full range of lower division courses in Art History, clearly separating their expertise from expertise in the Studio Arts.

  • This proposal is in line with recent and developing emphases on transfer studies in the CCCs and brings our practices and courses in line with the level of instruction that students would be expected to receive as Art Studio and Art History majors in baccalaureate schools.  The C-ID project and the passage of SB 1440, have placed an increased emphasis on the development of a full range of lower division Art History courses to ensure that students in the CCC system are able to complete all lower division work prior to transfer to the CSU or UC system.  This includes the development or revision of Art History courses in:


  • Non-western Art,
  • Asian Art History,
  • History of Graphic Design,
  • History of Photography,
  • History of Islamic Art
  • American Art

The scope and content of these courses requires instructors with advanced training in art historical methodology, theory, and pedagogy as they go far beyond what one would learn in the survey-level courses that are required for earning a bachelor or masters degree in studio arts.
The C-ID project has identified Art History as a separate discipline of study and has recently published draft descriptors for several of the classes listed above.  While not every CCC will develop these courses, those that do will require instructors with advanced degrees in Art History to deliver these courses at a level consonant with the CSU and UC faculty, rather than relying on Studio Arts instructors who lack the content and pedagogical expertise in this discipline.   Designing and delivering these courses at level commensurate with our intersegmental partners requires a level of content and pedagogical expertise that is only found in an instructor with an advanced degree in Art History.

Many local colleges, even smaller school such as Napa Valley College, currently offer, or are preparing to develop, these courses and have established degrees and certificates in Art History.   These colleges have successfully offered a broad swath and multiple sections of Art History courses every semester/quarter, including many courses beyond basic appreciation and surveys.  At this point the Chancellor’s Office recognizes degrees in Art History in 23 local colleges, according to the current degree inventory in the Chancellor’s Office.  As 1440 is implemented, local schools will have the opportunity to seek transfer designation for these degrees.  Students interested in Art History as a major under the transfer system established by 1440 should be provided with instruction commensurate with instruction at the receiving CSU.  Establishing this discipline will better serve transfer students by providing well-qualified instructors to teach courses in transfer-designated degree programs who will likewise provide better mentoring and ensure that students receive the same rigor of education in their lower division courses, regardless of where they are enrolled.  All of this will increase the credibility and standing of the CCCs in relationship to the lower division programs at the other schools in our state’s system of higher education.

Name                           School/Org                              Testimony                  Position

Jean-Luc Bordeaux      CSU Northridge                      Letter                          Individual Support
Cristina Hernandez     Mt. San Antonio College        Letter                          Individual Support
Sandra Esslinger          Mt. San Antonio College        Letter                          Individual Support
Eric Kaljumagi Mt. San Antonio College        Letter                          Senate Support
Riley Dwyer               Moorpark College                   Hearing                        Senate Support
Michael Norris            Los Medanos College             Hearing                        Senate Support
Peter Sezzi                  Ventura College                       Hearing                        Senate Support
Sheryl Reiss                USC                                        Hearing                        Individual Support
Malia Serrano              Grossmont College                 Email                           Individual Support
Alison Pearlman          CSU Pomona                          Email                           Individual Support
Eunice Howe               USC                                        Email                           Individual Support
Valerie Taylor             Pasadena City College            Email                           Individual Support


Hearing Summary: 
This was widely supported. Prior attempts at this failed due to confusion because delegates did not understand that the existence of this discipline does not mean districts have to use it where doing so would prohibit effective hiring. Proponents strongly supported the need to provide a means to separate this discipline from that of art-making since this was really a ‘history’ discipline that used art as the means to study history versus focusing on creating art as a means of current expression.