Our Roles in Working Together
Topics Suggested by Faculty Members
- Faculty Manual Section 3.1.3 provides that such matters as the appointment of faculty members are primarily a faculty responsibility, with the Board and President generally expected to concur. How do we manage any disagreements with regard to what searches are covered by this or how large the non-faculty role in searches ought to be?
- Faculty Manual Section 3.1.4 indicates that the faculty participates through representatives on committees for such college-wide purposes as searching for a President and developing a budget. Given the phrase "for such purposes as," the list in that section is presumably not all-inclusive. How are new examples identified where faculty responsibility is present and hence the faculty should participate?
- Faculty Manual Section 3.1.4 indicates that the faculty "participates" in various areas where "faculty responsibility is present," even though responsibility extends far enough beyond the faculty that the leadership role is taken by the Board or administration. In such a context, how are the contours of participation defined so as to ensure that it is meaningful?
- The Faculty Manual provides processes for disciplining and dismissing faculty members. Are there any areas where these processes are inconsistent with the college's legal obligations, for example with regard to responding to complaints of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct? If so, how do we address those inconsistencies?
- The Faculty Handbook, which is unilaterally controlled by the faculty, describes some processes in which members of the administration play a role. (To cite one example, Section 1.2.10.C.1.f.3 provides that after the President decides whether to concur in a tenure recommendation, the Provost communicates this decision to the candidate.) How far can the faculty reasonably go in telling the administration what to do? How do we figure out whether we are currently on the right side of that line? How do we ensure that we stay on the right side in the future?
- Under what circumstances can the Board appropriately reclaim direct control over a matter ordinarily delegated to the President? Does this necessarily imply such a loss of confidence that a change in presidency is inevitable?
- Section 3.1.3 provides for the primary role of Faculty members in matters of faculty status. Should this not be the case? Has this not served the institution well? If not, does the Board have a different model in mind? If not, how has it not served the institution well? (If, perhaps, the Board is thinking about a few faculty who over time may lose their focus or passion for their job and as a result quality suffers, the authority to deal with such cases is already provided for in the Provost office and Faculty Personnel Committee/Faculty Senate as stated in the Faculty Manual. It has not been utilized very often.)
- Section 3.1.4 provides for faculty input into,
- The development of the college budget. Is it not in the best interest of the college to make sure that a formal mechanism exists so that those whose responsibility is to develop the budget are kept aware of the needs of the academic program and its centrality to the mission of the college? If not, why not?
- The review of the President and the Provost. Wouldn’t any quality review of these two positions involve formal faculty input into the process (and VP input for that matter)? If not, wouldn’t this be analogous to reviewing faculty performance without seeking input from students? If so, how would either of these strengthen the institution?
- The determination of faculty compensation. Faculty are on the frontline of hiring new faculty. Isn’t it in the best interest of the institution to have a formal mechanism whereby faculty input into what constitutes a competitive salary and benefits package is ensured so that the recruitment and retention of outstanding faculty may continue? If such input is not in the best interest of the institution, why not?
- Clearer, more explicit language is needed in Faculty Manual Section 3.1.4 specifying the roles of the various parties, especially the Faculty, in the reviews of Presidents and Provosts. This raises questions of whether there should be a specified timeline for reviews of senior administrators, as there is for faculty members (a third-year review or something). Given the recent presidential review experience, a mandated third-year review involving an external consultant might not be a bad idea.
- What should the role of the faculty (and indeed the whole campus community) be in decisions regarding campus infrastructure, operations (financial and physical) and purchasing?
The traditional view, and indeed, our administration structure reflects this, is that such decisions are the purview of the administrative hierarchy, which stewards those decisions and resources in support of the college's educational mission. At the same time, wider social, political, and economic questions (many directly related to our clearly stated values of community, faith, justice, excellence, and service), have often been connected with campus management and used to advocate for particular decisions.
- Investment of the endowment (historically, South African divestment, currently, divestment from fossil fuels)
- Purchasing (ethical fair trade issues over clothing sources and food supply)
- Operations (decisions about building and grounds infrastructure (energy conservation and wind turbine purchase) and operations (pesticide use on lawns) relative to environmental concerns)
While these issues are in and of themselves complex and challenging, the campus conversation is usually complicated by the wider shared governance questions of "Who gets to decide?" and "What are the decision-making criteria?" Administrative responses are often framed to clearly articulate the ultimate responsibility and authority of the administration and the Board of Trustees over and against members of the community who insist that we should be consistent with our values as well as the facts and evidence we expect our students to respect in the classroom.Given that these tensions reoccur in many issues, a discussion of shared governance should address these issues so that future discussion of this nature can focus clearly on the issues at hand without repetitive reexamination of the "Who gets to decide?" and "What are the decision-making criteria?" questions.
- How will we understand the process with which key decisions are made? Certainly each constituency has, and should have, an arena of ultimate decision control. No organization functions without that delineation of authority. How will we delegate ultimate decision-making authority in the arenas that make sense for each constituency on campus? And by delegate, I mean real authority pushed to, and maintained with, that particular body.
- In shared governance, what are the roles of the board, the administration, VPs, president, deans, provost and the faculty senate? How/Who should decisions be made regarding curriculum? Budgeting? Hiring?
- What role does the faculty play in programmatic decisions (departmental mergers, closures, etc.)?
- What role does the faculty play in deciding how to distribute positions?
- Regarding the role of the faculty (and the campus community) in decisions regarding campus infrastructure, operations, and purchasing, there needs to be a process identified that is followed. Right now, money "jumps the line." Decisions should be made based on principle, not on what donors want to support.
- What are appropriate spheres of responsibility. What do we mean when we talk about accountability. When a rationale is requested and the response if “Because I think so”, how do we deal with that and/or prevent that kind of response?
- Faculty Manual Section 3.1.4 provides that “The faculty participates in College governance … through elected [emphasis added] representatives on standing or special committees for such purposes as the search for and periodic evaluation of the President and the Provost, the development of the College budget, and the determination of faculty compensation.” Likewise, the 1966 Statement on Government of College and Universities advises that “Faculty representatives should be selected by the faculty according to procedures determined by the faculty.” Does this preclude the Board or administration from choosing specific faculty members to serve on committees or simply require such faculty members serve in addition to, rather than in place of, those the faculty chooses?