CCCC Governance Restructuring Proposal: Overview from the CCCC EC Structures and Processes Working Group (co-chairs, Holly Hassel and David Green)
Background and Process
In November 2020, the CCCC Executive Committee held its annual retreat where working group subcommittees of the Executive Committee (EC) were established by CCCC Chair Julie Lindquist. The CCCC EC Structures and Processes Working Group subcommittee (SPWG), co-chaired by David Green and Holly Hassel, set about the task of developing a restructuring proposal that would make substantive changes to the governance of the organization, drawing from significant prior data collection, reports, and feedback from members and member groups in the last five years (see the supporting documents links on the proposal website). The revised governance structure reimagines the composition of the EC (including how nominations, elections, and representation happen), creates new structures for organizing the governance labor of the organization, and builds in greater levels of transparency in decision making at the elected governance levels of CCCC.
Over the course of 2021, SPWG met regularly with the Committee for Change leadership (a group established in the spring of 2019), held listening sessions and individual meetings with various constituent groups, gathered feedback from member groups including Standing Groups and Caucuses, and presented its governance restructuring proposal to the Executive Committee in April, September, and November, with unanimous endorsement from the EC at its November meeting (see the 2021–2022 feedback timeline available on the website). As the elected body charged with the stewardship of the organization and its well-being, the EC has worked throughout these multiple deliberations to reflect as many perspectives and concerns as possible and has invited the feedback of many constituent groups to inform their decision making and final approval of the changes.
Our proposed changes to the Constitution must now be approved through a simple majority vote of our membership. This document provides an overview of the following:
- Principles and Values
- Overview of Changes
- Next Steps
- Where to Read More
Principles and Values
The organization’s governance structure has remained largely the same throughout the history of CCCC. The proposed restructuring aims to update and move the organization’s work forward by creating new, permanent structures dedicated to equity and access; by codifying the work of continuing committees with annual responsibilities; and by building stronger relationships between member groups and the decision-making levels of the organization. In this section, we explain the relationship between the principles and values that have underpinned the restructuring proposal and how they are translated into specific structural changes.
Diversity, equity, inclusion, and access: CCCC has a long, stated commitment to DEI and accessibility. In the proposed structural changes, we have sought to codify an organizational commitment to these values. Every recommended change seeks to support these values, including a revised structure of the EC; more visible and expansive nomination processes for open seats; ex officio representation that creates greater accountability and tighter relationships between the decision-making bodies and member groups; formal references to electronic participation in meetings; and formalizing the work of the Committee on Disability Issues in College Composition within the organizational structure. Further, the governance restructuring creates a new administrative structure that is parallel with that of the Executive Committee and the CDICC, a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee; this is a permanent structure, unlike previous groups that have been special committees or task forces, each of which has a finite period of constitution before being dissolved or expiring.
Transparency: The processes of decision making in the structures of the organization are disconnected from the member groups (see organizational chart). There are also narrow and undefined channels of communication between leaders and membership; many decisions are made by a single person (the chair). Whenever possible, we have brought more alignment between the member groups, the stated values of the organization, and the levers of decision making governing the organization; we believe the changes proposed here make more visible the available leadership and governance seats and how those seats get filled. They also aim to make visible how nomination slates are created and how members can be involved in and have influence within the organization.
Accountability: There has been a long history of concern about the relationship between the Executive Committee’s decision making and the organization’s member groups. In the proposed restructuring, we have sought to build stronger relationships between member groups and the organization’s elected leadership; we have centered DEI and access by creating new administrative structures dedicated to those values, and we have integrated specific duties and responsibilities that will benchmark the work of groups who have expertise and leadership on this topic. We have sought as well to incorporate, for example, meaningful reporting and recommendation-making from groups with responsibilities in these and other areas. We have simultaneously suggested changes that will increase the communication to groups from the elected leadership.
Scaffolded leadership development: There is a large and often difficult gap between the national-level leadership roles of the Executive Committee and the Standing Group activities that many CCCC members participate in. The visual depiction of the current and proposed restructuring illustrates this gap. The new restructure creates a pool of nominees to the EC that is put forward by Caucuses, Standing Groups, and TYCA (while “at-large” seats—or those nominations submitted by individual members—are also retained). The restructuring proposal is intended to create more alignment between the kinds of activities and conversations that take place within elected governance leadership groups and the work that takes place in Standing Groups, Special and Standing Committees, and Special Interest Groups, ideally building a stronger pipeline between (and scaffolded experience of, from the perspective of members) the organization’s increasing levels of responsibility and authority.
Aligning practice with policy: In the current structure, the organization’s work at the administrative level has been done through three Standing (or administrative—meaning, they are enshrined in the constitution) Committees, while “Special Committees”—those with three-year terms—have been regularly created and dissolved (or extended in perpetuity), typically by the Officers Committee, though sometimes by the chair or the EC as a whole. There is no category of governance within the organization that is named “Standing Committee” in the current structure (even though we have groups that act in this way), an issue we address in the restructured proposal. The new category appears in the constitution, while the specific groups that are acting in these ways are listed in the Bylaws. This will allow for more agility in making changes to the groups that are characterized as Standing Committees (because bylaws changes require a vote of the EC only) while retaining the “compositional” definitions within the constitution.
Overview of Change
Change 1: Constitutional Language Establishing CCCC Values: Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity
The addition of a new article, drafted by the Committee for Change, that embeds the organization’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Constitution. We propose an amendment of Article I, Section 2 that adds the word equitable to the organization’s objective. We propose an amendment of Article I of the Constitution that adds all new language to address the organization’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We propose an amendment of Article IV, Section 1b that adds the word identities to detail how diversity is represented within the EC.
Change 2: Composition of Executive Committee and Additional Committees and Categories
A restructuring of the Executive Committee membership that draws from multiple pools, including a reduction of at-large seats and an increase in ex-officio and member group nominated pools. We propose a restructuring of the Executive Committee composition that includes a great number of voting “ex officio” seats, which are themselves determined through nominations, elections, or established governance processes used by member groups.
Reorganizing the levels of committee structures to include two new administrative committees: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and the Committee on Disability Issues in College Composition (CDICC). A DEI committee does not currently exist. The CDICC has been functioning as a Standing Committee though its origins are as a Special Committee. This elevates these two areas of the organization’s work as parallel to the Executive Committee, Nominating Committee, and Officers Committee.
Creating a Standing Committee category structure: The only committees operating in perpetuity without ongoing renewal and recharging are the Executive, Nominating, and Officers Committees. Special Committees have been formed and recharged from a single time period (three years) to multiple decades, depending on the EC composition and will at the time. The Standing Committee category will codify the work of groups that are already engaging in ongoing annual labor or that have traditionally been perpetually reconstituted. These will be spelled out in the bylaws, which are a separate document that outlines the operations of the organization and its groups but that follows a different approval process and timeline.
Standing Committees will include entities such as the Newcomers Committee, the Research Committee, and the Social Justice and Activism at the Convention Committee, among others whose responsibilities will be named in the revision of the CCCC Bylaws (and in collaboration and conversation with affected groups) should the governance restructuring proposal be approved by membership. The CCCC Executive Committee bylaws will also explicitly describe a process for changing the status of a Special Committee to a Standing Committee.
Change 3: Changes to Nominations Processes and Responsibilities of Nominating Committee
More detailed expectations for the Nominations Committee are provided in the Constitution (and subsequently in the EC bylaws), and ex officio representative seats are reserved for member groups. These changes propose that the EC reduce the number of elected at-large positions from 20 to 12 to ensure designated seats for the Cultural Identity Caucuses and the CDICC, DEI, and graduate student positions on the EC and that substantive written guidelines be provided for the Nominating Committee. Two of the at-large seats are reserved for members who work in contingent faculty positions.
Change 4: Revisions to Election Processes and Ballot Construction
Changes in EC composition will warrant changes to the nomination, ballot construction, and election processes. At-large elections and nominations will continue as they have in the past. Ex officio seats of Cultural Identity Caucuses will be put forward by the Caucuses themselves, as is the case with the two seats from the Standing Group for Graduate Students. These proposed changes to the election process and ballot construction are designed to address concerns raised about how ballots are put together and voted on.
The CCCC EC bylaws are a kind of “procedure” or operating manual for the structures spelled out in the Constitution. Their revision process (spelled out in the Bylaws themselves) is that changes are approved by the CCCC EC itself. Should the constitutional changes be approved by a vote of the membership (as spelled out in the Constitution), then the SPWG will continue working to revise the bylaws for an approval vote in late spring 2022 by the EC.
Members of the 2021 CCCC Executive Committee Structures and Processes Working Group:
David Green (co-chair)
Holly Hassel (co-chair)
Cheryl Hogue Smith
Janelle Jennings-Alexander (consulting member, chair of Committee for Change)
Members of the 2022 CCCC Executive Committee Structures and Processes Working Group:
Holly Hassel (co-chair)
David Green (co-chair)
Becky Mitchell Shelton
- Administrative Committees: Currently, these refer to three groups that are permanent to the structure of the organization:
- Executive Committee: the governing body of the organization, made up of several ex officio members and a majority of elected members
- Nominating Committee: a separately elected committee that includes two past chairs of the organization who prepare the slate of nominations for election vacancies from nomination
- Officers Committee: the four chairs in the rotation (assistant chair, associate chair, chair, and immediate past chair), plus the elected secretary of the organization
- Member Groups:
- Special Interest Groups: These are groups that meet annually around a topic of shared interest at the Convention; they do not have formal reporting responsibility to the organization.
- Standing Groups: These are groups with greater longevity who hold a business meeting and have formal reporting responsibilities; there is a process for creating them. SIGs can become Standing Groups after they have been active for five years by submitting an application for a change in status. Standing Groups have their own bylaws and operating processes and can determine their own responsibilities (bottom up).
- Other Types of Groups:
- Special Committees: These are three-year committees tasked and populated by the Executive Committee (sometimes only the officers) around a specific issue; they are given charges, determined by the officers or chair (top-down).
- Task Forces: These are groups assembled by the chair, officers, or Executive Committee, with a one-year constitution and a focused charge given by the organization’s elected leadership.
 Please see the end of the document for a brief glossary of organization-specific terminology.