Universities are predicated on the principle that all perspectives are given voice–opposing views are critically evaluated, fully expressed, and debated in the academy. Shared governance is a cornerstone of these values. It is a system where the administration and the faculty (and students) help to guide and direct the University together. The American Association of University Professors in various incarnations of its statement on governance has said, “Important areas of action involve at one time or another, the initiating capacity and decision-making participation of all the institutional components.” The faculty and the administration must agree on the five principles of governance as articulated by the AAUP.
Trust—all entities are working toward the same goal of education and the furtherance of knowledge.
Primacy—the most effective and efficient use of human resources is utilized by giving primary responsibility to the entity wherein expertise lies.
Transparency—each entity is forthright in its actions and keeps the other informed of intent.
Accountability—each entity provides clear, defensible and written justification of its actions and objections.
Democracy—the principles and practices of democracy are used whenever and wherever possible in the governance of the institution.
Shared governance does not mean that the faculty and administration should be involved equally, indeed the primacy principle above dictates that the faculty should have lead responsibility in curriculum, research, faculty status, appointments, promotion and tenure and student life, and administration in other matters like the operation of the University, financing, public relations, fund raising, physical plant, and the like.
At the University of Utah we subscribe to the principles above, and the model used for governance succeeds, mostly, in achieving the goal. Here like elsewhere, issues and proposals about University activity arise from a variety of sources. There is an organizational structure of Departments, Colleges and other units from which topics emerge. Within these there are committees and individuals who vet proposals, administrators critique and approve, University committees and boards evaluate and approve as well. The Academic Senate has its own roster of committees which initiate and evaluate proposals often. Research is done of these proposals, endorsements are received, and written document is prepared. With the Senate’s model of using an Executive Committee to set agendas and assure that the proposals are complete in advance of the full Senate meeting, the agenda items are usually well prepared and ready for active debate in the Senate. The following official regulations define our Senate, its role and its structure—and its adherence to the shared governance principles and those principles’ long standing value at the University of Utah.
So does shared governance work at the University of Utah? Is it better here than other places? Since 1915, the faculty role in the governing of the University here in an official way has certainly worked. It must be said that the faculty’s role in Department and College affairs is primary, no question; in fact most of the decisions are made at that level in University life. It is at the University level with the Senate and its role, however, where this evaluation is concerned. Utah’s Senate has teeth. The issues that come before it cannot proceed without approval. The Senate can seek out issues and debate and secure approval for them; these, too, will not go on without Senate action. The Senate can change, send back for review and substantially alter proposals under consideration. The Board of Trustees will not approve proposals without Senate approval. Debate in the Senate is often lively and the Senators take seriously their governing role.
Drawbacks to the system are that a relatively small number of faculty actually participate in University service; sometime it is difficult to recruit faculty to run for a seat on the Senate. It is often a challenge to find faculty who are willing to take the time and effort involved in University committee service. It has been said, and confirmed by a survey taken a number of years ago, that 75% of University service was done by 75 faculty. True or not, the value of service is often underappreciated and under rewarded.
An additional critique of the governance system is that some of the items under consideration are small, unimportant or trivial and the Senate is merely “rubber stamping” what is already happening or going to happen anyway. This is partially fair, but to have the responsibility and the right to approve how the University is operated one has to take the small with the large and value the right so to do. Approving an academic emphasis in a major is small but is coupled with the major revision of all curriculum practices recently passed by the Senate. Endorsing new faculty hires is somewhat mundane, but voting no confidence in the University President is less so; and so it goes.
Some of the best features of our system not particularly outlined in policy are the close communication between the faculty and the administration. The Senate President meets one on one regularly with the President and Vice President. The Senate leader is a member the President’s Cabinet, Council of Deans and other leadership boards. In addition, the Senate President sits with the Board of Trustees, attend Board of Regents meetings and is the spokesperson for the faculty in public settings. The Senate has an independent physical office and designated staff housed in the administration building of the University. The Senate, being constituent based, affords faculty members fairly close access to their Senators. The Senate leadership and the Executive Committee are often used as sounding boards for the administration on issues facing the University—faculty involvement in decision making before the proposal is even made.
So, do we succeed? At a recent meeting of Pac-12 faculty leaders where all the schools were represented, as Utah gave its report on how things are done here (the Academic Senate’s role and responsibilities, and what the faculty does), the uniform response from the other Pac-12 faculty members was, “your Senate can do that?, you have that kind of authority?, and you’ve been doing it since when, 1915?”–that perhaps best answers the question.
Acting President, 1991
Interim President, 1997
My introduction to shared governance came early in my career as a faculty member. Service on department and university committees, I was told, was one of the most important responsibilities of academic life.
But why is that? Gary Olson’s article, “What is Shared Governance?” in the July 23, 2009 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, provides an answer. Olson describes shared governance as “a delicate balance between faculty and staff participation in planning and decision-making processes, on the one hand, and administrative accountability on the other.” The key, Olson argues, is “broad and unending communication.”
In my experience at Utah as a faculty member and an administrator, both aspects of shared governance have been effectively maintained through committees at all levels of campus life, and especially on the major committees of the Academic Senate. Yet a necessary change, and a profound strengthening of that balance, came when the Senate began to elect its own Chair, and the Senate Chair became a member of the President’s Cabinet. At that point, the connection between shared participation in decision-making and clear accountability became fully defined and operational.
David P. Gardner
Prior to serving as the University of Utah’s President from 1973-1983, I held positions both as a professor and as an administrator within the University of California system (UC).
During those 10 years, I came to understand and to value the role performed by UC’s Academic Senate acting under authority delegated not by the administration but by the Board of Regents: the formulation of educational policy and the corresponding curricula; the requirements and standards for the earning of university degrees; primary responsibility for the recruitment, appointment and advancement of the professoriate; consulting rights in the formulation of UC’s budgets; and the right to organize the Senate as that body wished.
The role of the Faculty Council/Senate at the University of Utah, when arriving as president in 1973, was akin to UC’s but differentially structured, that is, it depended less on formally delegated authority and more on custom and practice. Thus, I chose to interact with the Council/Senate as I would have at UC but relying more on mutual respect for our respective roles than on the technicalities of formal structure and delegations of authority.
This arrangement worked both in practice and in concept throughout my ten years of service at Utah, and to the University’s great gain as an academic community united in process and purpose from within is much strengthened when dealing with impinging forces from without. It is my impression that the “U”‘s remarkable gains in recent years derive significantly in part from the governing structure and the Faculty Council/Senate’s pivotal role within it.
Randy L. Dryer
Student Body President, 1971-1972
Board of Trustees Member, 1994-2011, Chair 2005-2011
I have seen the concept of shared governance at work at the University of Utah through a variety of lenses: as a student body president in the early 1970s as a member of the Board of Trustees from the mid-1990s until 2010 and now as a full-time member of the faculty for the past three years. In my view, the concept has served the University remarkably well for these many decades and will continue to do so in the future. Shared governance helps mitigate short-term managerial considerations, acts as a buffer against external political influences, is a necessary underpinning of academic freedom and prevents any one of the primary internal University stakeholders (faculty, staff, students or the central administration) from becoming a dominant decision-maker that can ignore the interests of the others.
The concept has been criticized as too inefficient and too cumbersome for our fast moving, technology driven modern society. Granted, it unavoidably produces slower and more deliberative decisions, but I believe it also produces better long-term decisions for the institution as a whole. I have seen too many examples of this to relate here, but I am sure that all of us associated with the University can point to our own favorite example of where a terrible decision was avoided through the inability to obtain a working consensus among all stakeholders.
A University has a unique mission and is unlike a traditional for profit organization where a more nimble governance system is necessary to respond to rapidly changing market forces. The concept of shared governance, however, is not static and must continually evolve as the role of education and the University also evolves. For example, the University recently recognized the increasingly important contribution of non-tenured faculty to the teaching enterprise by giving career-line faculty a seat at the decision-making table through membership on the Academic Senate. Shared governance, although steeped in tradition and time, remains today a vital, relevant and adaptive concept for higher education.
David W. Pershing
President, 2012 –
I am very pleased to offer this letter in honor of your upcoming Centennial celebration. I have had the pleasure of working with the Academic Senate for almost three years now as the University of Utah President and for more than 12 years as the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. Throughout that time I have been impressed with the commitment of the Senate leadership and the body as a whole. Both are clearly trying to do what is right for the long-term good of the institution.
I have enjoyed working with each Senate President over this period and have almost always found them to be thoughtful people who understand the importance of the shared governance principle. In general, they have been willing to investigate the complexity of big issues and work with the administration for the good of the faculty, staff, and students. They have also been willing to provide opposing views to which the administration has listened. I believe this is part of why we have historically had such good relationships and effective shared governance.
In my opinion, it is important to be honest and open with the Academic Senate, most especially during tough times. We have tried to involve them in the development of guiding principles and heeded their advice regarding alternate approaches and possible negative implications.
Shared governance is a core value, and I intend to guard it as long as I am president.
Michael K. Young
Congratulations on the 100th Anniversary of the Faculty Council/Senate at the University of Utah. I remember with warm fondness and deep appreciation the working relationship I had with the Faculty Senate during my tenure as President. From the very first day, it was clear that Faculty Senate leaders would be among my best allies in helping the University remain on its extraordinary upward trajectory. It did not mean we always agreed (though what self-respecting academic always agrees with anyone…), but, through discussion and analysis and vigorous debate, we always came to a place better than where I started.
Shared governance, in its best form, offers a structure and a process for ensuring that the core institutional values are always at the forefront of any decision and that the best ideas are ideas that take into consideration the history and all the complexities of the institution. I valued that input more than I can say and the mutual respect with which it was conveyed.
The Faculty Senate at the University of Utah was serious, deeply engaged, incredibly forward thinking and genuinely wise. The leadership and contributions of every Senate President with whom I worked were meaningful and absolutely central to our achievements. It was a true pleasure to work with passionate and committed faculty toward our common goal of academic excellence, and it is clear to me to this day that it would have been impossible to accomplish all the great things that we did during that period without such an extraordinary group of partners and colleagues.
Penny Simpson Brooke
Academic Senate President, 2007-2008
During my term as President of the Academic Senate I enjoyed participating with the administrative committees and the Board of Trustees as they planned for the future progress of our University as well as dealt with the current issues on campus and throughout the state. I felt as though the faculty were well represented through the participation of the Academic Senate President on these committees and the Board of Trustees. A major focus during my term was the development of a campus plan for the utilization of the limited space we enjoy on the east hillside of our community. Our participation with other state educational programs was also frequently discussed. I felt greatly honored to be a voice for our faculty and the University during my term as President of the Academic Senate.
John G. Francis
Academic Senate President, 1994-1995
It is a rewarding and fascinating job to have served as President of the Academic Senate 1994-1995. It is a job with a certain creative tension at its heart. Members of the faculty to the extent that they give the position much thought see the position as the faculty representative to the administration. The administration is more likely to see the position as a conduit to the faculty that is useful in explaining new directions in policies and priorities. The task of the Senate president as I saw it was to share the administration’s programmatic direction with the faculty and to engage the faculty in helping to shape the university’s priorities.
The Senate of course includes both members of the faculty and student leaders. When I came into office I observed relatively low attendance from two groups: student leaders and faculty members from the health sciences. I held a Senate meeting up in the health sciences and spent time talking to health science senators about their concerns. I also met with student leaders to see how the Senate could play a role in helping to address their concerns.
As a good political scientist, I was a bit worried over the question of representation on the Executive Committee and the need for institutional memory in the committee’s interactions with the administration. A group was appointed and recommended that student representation be increased to three. In addition, a new policy was established that the Senate president-elect served on the executive committee and continued to serve for a year after her or his presidential term was over as immediate past president. If issues arose that were likely to engage the Senate, I placed them on the agenda even if they had not come to the Senate from another official body of the University. A long discussion on the issue of overhead and how the revenue was shared was one such issue. Another issue was the plans to enlarge the stadium for the football team and the Winter Olympics.
Faculty governance is largely confined to a small faculty group spread throughout the campus who regularly give of their time and ideas. Occasionally a big issue arises that mobilizes large numbers of people. I do not anticipate that to be a regular pattern of faculty participation. Members of the faculty lead busy lives. But having said I think the Senate works, I have never been able to anticipate which issue will capture the Senate’s attention and which will not. Perhaps a pattern of random attention is the Senate’s key to success for it keeps everyone on their toes.
Academic Senate President, 1998-1999
When I became Senate President, Bernie Machen was still settling in as University President. I enjoyed working with him. He was open with me and responsive whenever I had matters I wanted to discuss. He focused on a few central issues and would hear my opinion. We only crossed swords when I insisted the Senate hear a report on the cost of the PeopleSoft project.
When I was Senate President-elect, I had tried to interview all the Senators about their priorities. One issue stood out, the need to evaluate teaching, particularly in a few Departments whose teaching performance affected other Departments negatively. So we started the process that finally gave us the numeric course evaluations. I hope that for all their problems, they have at least forced improvements in teaching in those few Departments. We also started the process that has given you a fall break.
I had come to the U from a university where shared governance was a foreign idea. My first experience of it at the U was as Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs where I saw its value, even when it made my job harder. As Senate President, I may have made some administrators’ jobs harder, but I hope the overall outcome was positive for the University. In any case, from those two experiences I stood, and stand, in awe at the tradition here at the U. I hope that it is a vibrant reality today and will continue to be so in the future.
John M. McCullough
Academic Senate President 1993-1994
Serving as the Senate Chair was an honor I have always cherished. Two changes that were initiated during my term were establishment of the university sexual harassment policy and changing the sobriquet “Senate Chair” to “Senate President,” in keeping with practices of sister schools throughout the state. I also ran the shortest senate meetings in history. As a de facto member of the university president’s cabinet I gained insight into the important, sometimes fragile, relations we had with the community at large (the Pioneer Theater was under fire for obscenities in plays!). As only an observer in Trustees’ meetings sitting in the back of the room, while the ASUU President was a full member, I witnessed how marginal faculty power was in the upper echelons. I hope that has changed. The senate must remain the seat of independent faculty power and influence, and keep alive the spirit, courage, and good judgment of our 1914 forebears.
Academic Senate President 2009-2010
Holding the Academic Senate presidency creates an interesting moment in time. It provides the otherwise ordinary faculty member a unique view into the operation of the University. As an ethnographer, it was particular fascinating to see the interplay of relationships, competing interests, posturing, and political horse-trading that characterize all large organization played out against the façade of civility and rationality that is any university’s public face. That moment snaps open on May 15th of the presidential year and closes just as quickly 12 months later. For that year, the president has to be acknowledged and accounted for, but with the full recognition that the clock is ticking. Were good things accomplished in my year of service? I think so. Were less than admirable things undertaken? That I know. I was naively surprised by the world of privilege administrators inhabit, while at the same time, manifestly impressed by the intelligence and work ethic of most I met. On the other hand, I found the senate exasperatingly unprepared, rambling in its dispositions, and yet, reaching a good conclusion on most occasions.
Academic Senate President, 2011-2012
When I was elected president of the Academic Senate in 2011 I was delighted. In 1989, with John Francis (1994-1995), I co-chaired the Presidential Task Force formed by Chase Peterson to make recommendations on the structure of University upper administration in general, and the (then) Faculty Senate in particular. The Task Force recommended an independent status for the Senate, which would allow it a strong voice in the selection of its chair (now, president). Of course, between then and the time I was elected to be president, many things had changed, and the scope of the Senate’s authority, along with its membership, had expanded. For me being President was like being invited to help cook dinner with your now adult child; and like cooking with my child, it was a wonderful experience.
Michael Young had just left the University for the University of Washington. One of the first things I was invited to do was to serve on the Regents’ search committee for the new president as the faculty representative. When I learned that I was the one and only faculty representative, I asked that the Senate be one of the focus groups for helping formulate the job description, and that the Executive Committee be consulted during the non-confidential portion of the search, and that it be invited to interview the candidates before the finalists were announced. The Regents agreed to this, and it led to a very close working relationship with this group, a relationship that expanded the Executive Committee’s role in Senate leadership. I took this as a good sign that shared-governance was indeed alive and thriving at the University.
During my time in office, at the urging of one Senator, the Senate debated campus closure for Thursday night football games and played a role in helping shape the rules for such closures. The School of Dentistry was approved after many, many hours of work on the part of a sub-committee of the Senate Executive Committee (led by Robert Flores, 2005-2006) to help the School of Medicine and the Sr. V. P for Health Sciences do everything necessary to bring a college into existence. Although this was the first time in 60 years that a new college was created, the results were stunning: in one meeting, the proposal was moved to the debate calendar and approved unanimously. This was only one of the initiatives which the Executive Committee introduced during my term, and although the structure of the Senate didn’t change, the tone of meetings seemed to reflect an openness—and sometimes a cheekiness—that is essential to shared-governance. This was also the U’s first year in the Pac-12, and with the University of Colorado, the senate leaders of Pac-12 schools formed a working group, the Coalition of Pac-12 Faculties, which allows us to exchange ideas, work together to address issues in governance and find solutions to a wide variety of issues confronting faculty in the 21st century.
Academic Senate President, 2012-2013
I was fortunate to be elected by the Academic Senate to serve as president during the 2012-2013 academic year. This was a very exciting year. President Pershing was selected as the 15th President of the University of Utah. Working with him was an honor. It was a very steep learning curve for me in that I came from the Health Sciences and was trying to figure out how the main campus worked. I had a basic knowledge being on UPTAC, P & E committee, Grad Council, and president-elect. However, it isn’t until you have to start making decisions and performing the nuts and bolts of the position that you start thinking WOW this is neat. Early in my tenure, I spoke with John Francis (previous President of the Academic Senate) and he gave me advice as well as putting the job in perspective that the President of the Academic Senate is the Chair of the Faculty. This was a perspective Pat Hanna (my predecessor) always had. I do remember at my very last meeting on the final agenda item, I had to break a tie vote in the Senate. No one could recall the last time this had happened. The best part of the job was meeting new friends and colleagues, particularly from Main Campus. Paul Mogren (past President and Senate Parliamentarian) and Bob Flores (past President and special assistant to the Senate) would give assistance when needed. I have to give a special thanks to Shawnee Worsley who kept my head on straight and Amy Wildermuth (Associate Vice President for Faculty) who, on many occasions, provided good and sound advice often late at night. As per my recollections the job is not a one person operation. It is collaboration between administration, students, and faculty, which is very much the heart of shared-governance.
Academic Senate President, 2000-2001
For me, the experience of being President of the Academic Senate meant seeing myself as part of a complex, nuanced entity we call a university. Being a faculty member doesn’t always guarantee that one has this university-wide perspective—a faculty member can spend the majority of their entire academic career only within their department or college. I suppose over the years most faculty have the chance to sit on one or other college or university committee that oversees a larger portion of the campus—being on my college’s Retention, Promotion, and Tenure Committee is one such example as is serving on Undergraduate Council, the University Promotion and Tenure Advisory Committee, or Personnel and Elections Committee. But the Academic Senate is something else again. It is the chance to meet and interact with a large group of individuals, a diverse range of faculty and students, every month for an academic year, discussing sometimes pragmatic, other times programmatic, and often systemic issues that affect the development of everything from departments and colleges to the wider university campus. It’s a matter of perspective and Academic Senate can give you that level of perspective. More than that, I had the chance to establish meaningful connections and relationships that are still part of my life. Academic Senate leadership seems to attract individuals who want to make some substantive progressive difference on the campus—it’s a mindset that I resonate with and respect.
Dixie S. Huefner
Academic Senate President, 1995-1996
My term as Academic Senate President in 1995-1996 was a stimulating and informative one. Getting to know faculty from across campus was a boon, as was working with administrative leaders of the University. Having the opportunity to do both more extensively than anticipated was largely the result of President Smith’s and the Board of Regents’ decision to move the campus from the quarter system to a semester system. Distinguished Professor Dave Grant had accepted my invitation to serve as chair of the faculty committee (Academic Policy Advisory Committee) responsible for assessing the pros and cons of a conversion, but the Board of Regents moved more swiftly without waiting for the APAC report or addressing our concerns about process. So we plunged ahead, and Dave and I ended up chairing and vice-chairing the transition process the following year.
Two other highlights of my term (that I can remember almost 20 years later with a fading memory) include:
1) Completion of the Senate Self-Study of our recent history and current functions, as part of the University’s accreditation for the Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities
2) Service on the President’s Cabinet, resulting in a broader view of the many issues confronting the various departments and colleges, and the political challenges within the Legislature and donor community.
Overall, I valued the role that the Academic Senate was playing in the life of the University as it confronted needed changes to policy and procedures, departmental changes in degree programs, and campus-wide strategic planning needs. I came to believe that Senate effectiveness depended in large part on what kind of relationships could be developed between the Senate and the Park Building and what kind of energy and knowledge could be marshaled by the faculty (and student) members of the Senate.
Academic Senate President, 2003-2004
Several experiences stand out during my presidency, the foremost being my weekly interactions with President Machen and the past Academic Senate president Katie Coles from the English department. President Machen is truly an inspiring leader. He is one who combines a moral imperative with the pragmatic strengths of a superb strategist. Because he lives outside the box, for example his motorcycle, he brings creative energy to the Presidency. His accomplishments are not only unprecedented but more importantly have expanded what is possible within a large conservative bureaucracy. He has inspired me to do the same in my years since I met him. For that alone my stay as academic president would have been profound. Added to this experience was my interaction with Katie Coles. I remember her as a passionate, smart, no nonsense women who introduced me the area of poetics. I read the book she was using in her class and also her own poetry. That set into place a 15 year focus on art and progressive change. I’m sure she doesn’t know it but she continues to inspire me today demonstrating clearly the importance of moving outside one’s silo. Finally, I learned that the faculty at the university are passionate, reasonable and strong willed. In the end, we all worked together on a non-compliance policy that had been stalled for a few years. It was passed during my presidency and that will always be my most important accomplishment.
In the end the academic senate provided me with opportunities to meet all sorts of amazing and inspiring people including our current president David Pershing. Dave is a man of tremendous integrity openness and kindness. While President Bush claimed to be the kinder and gentler President, President Pershing is surely that man. He is a man who will continue to lead us forward and do so with compassion and empathy. We are all lucky to have him at this important moment at the University of Utah.
Academic Senate President, 2014-2015
Serving as the President of the Academic Senate during this year of celebrating the Centennial of Shared Governance at the University of Utah is a profound honor. I have had the privilege of being a Utah Ute since 1988 when I restarted my undergraduate education. Since that time, I have experienced nearly every corner of this remarkable institution. While the campuses, facilities, and programs are impressive, it is the people – the faculty, students, staff, administrators and community partners – who are the soul of the U. Our commitment to sharing the responsibility of caring for the University of Utah and guiding it to new horizons has enabled us to achieve what many believed was impossible. We truly are Imagine U – where we can ‘imagine – then do’.
Our future will be shaped by our ability to continue the tradition of insuring that faculty members and students are engaged with our administrative leadership in being stewards of the scholarly space provided through the University of Utah. We have the solemn responsibility of ensuring that this space with which we have been entrusted is to be a source of knowledge discovery, innovation, sharing and implementation. Our commitment to having an impact in Utah and around the world has been enhanced by the inauguration of the University of Utah Asia Campus in Incheon, Korea, where students from around the world will come together to approach scholarship in the Utah way. Our ability to impact the world for good is enhanced by governance that is informed by multiple perspectives, with the aim of finding that congruent space where we can optimize our impact. Through this process, we are well positioned to continue to provide world-class education to outstanding learners, expand our knowledge-based capacity in the sciences and the arts, increase our ability to practically implement what we have learned through our scholarship, and even tackle parking challenges. Through the participation of over 120 committed faculty and student senators, we will approach the future with confidence as we share in the governing of the University of Utah with our administrative colleagues, ably led by President David Pershing, and proudly proclaim -Go Utes!
Academic Senate President, 1997-1998
My year as Senate President began with the report that Jerilyn McIntyre would continue as the university’s Interim President because the Presidential Search Committee had failed, despite its promise, to have a new President in place by fall semester. A reporter from the Trib wanted to quote me as saying the faculty was upset because we “needed a leader.” I told him that the faculty was upset because the search should have been concluded as had been promised and there were many important things that a new president needed to undertake, but no faculty member would want to be quoted as “needing a leader.” That was my first statement on shared governance!
Later that year Bernie Machen was selected as the new president. I had the pleasure of orienting Bernie to dealing with the Academic Senate. Yes, I told him, the Senate WOULD expect him to come to its meetings and report, just as prior University Presidents had done. That was my second statement on shared governance.
During the course of my presidency (and for some years thereafter) I worked with faculty and administration to rewrite various Policies, including creating the Consolidated Hearing Committee for all faculty disputes. (Previously faculty with disputes had managed to lose RPT appeals and then litigate discrimination complaints and then academic freedom complaints, each matter delaying a final outcome.) I hope the CHC has improved dispute resolution for faculty and administrators alike.
Academic Senate President, 2001-2002
The year of Academic Senate presidency gently blends into several years, spanning years as a senator and committee member, the three years as president elect, president and past president, and a long tail of committee activity getting projects completed that were started during my tenure. This meant I spanned the administrations of Art Smith, Bernie Machen, Lorris Betz and David Pershing. In more specific terms, I was Academic Senate President during the winter Olympics. There were more than a few procedural hurdles with the specific schedule change, coming at about the same time as the shift to the modified early semester calendar.
Overall, I was increasingly impressed during my service with the healthy function of faculty governance. One of the major efforts in which I was I was involved dealt with rewriting the faculty code sections of PPM, specifically those involved with retention, promotion and tenure and with appeals. In drafting these sections, members of the faculty from many different departments and colleges (e.g., Physics, Music, Political Science and Medicine, to name only a few) spent seemingly interminable hours discussing the procedures in their departments, highlighting to me the incredible variety of what was considered standard all in one university. In the end, we came out with significant changes to the faculty code that were subsequently passed. Of course, they have already been modified further. But I am happy to see many of the most dramatic changes have been strengthened by subsequent actions. These were changes created by consensus among faculty from the bottom up. This to me was a continuing legacy of faculty governance in the institution that established the first system of tenure over 100 years ago, the University of Utah.
Academic Senate President, 1990-1991
I had the great honor and pleasure to serve as the first Senate President actually elected by the Senate. There is a qualification to this–in the beginning, the University was so concerned about having Senate-elected Senate presidents that the initial procedure was that the Senate selected two names for the University President and the President made the final determination, so I’ve always thought of myself as quasi-elected. I am very glad that process was eliminated in favor of direct election of their President by the Senate.
I was then and remain today deeply committed to the importance of faculty service and faculty governance. We are, after all, at the very core of the academic enterprise, working with our students so they obtain the best education possible, collaborating with one another as colleagues, generating important research and public service, and doing all this within the administrative, financial, and physical structure of the University. Because of this, it seemed incongruous to me that at the time I was Senate President the faculty did not have representation on either the University’s Board of Trustees or the state Board of Regents.
One of the most rewarding aspects of my time as Senate president was getting to know faculty governance leaders around the state. The recognition of the importance of faculty participation in institutional governance was somewhat uneven across institutions and we were able to discuss concerns and support one another. I don’t know how much this has continued, but faculty at all of Utah’s state colleges and universities share central concerns. I would like to see a “faculty regent,” along the lines of the “student regent” we have now.
I have been very happy to see the increasing trust in and role for faculty governance. Several times since I was Senate President, I have had the opportunity to represent my colleges as a member of the Senate. The Senate is crucial to the University’s academic mission and I am very grateful to everyone who has contributed to it.
Academic Senate President, 1999-2000
A Thousand Voices
Every president of the Academic Senate is called upon to express the views of the faculty, but I was surprised by how many times I had to explain that the faculty does not speak with a single voice. That’s why debate in Academic Senate meetings is such an important part of shared governance. Few proposals that come to the Senate floor are defeated, but discussion allows for a revision of proposals that reflects faculty values and priorities.
Guns on Campus
The most contentious debate during my presidency was over a resolution to allow people with permits to carry concealed weapons on campus and in classrooms. The principal advocates of the resolution were students, but most faculty members were opposed. The resolution failed, but most senators felt that we were able to have a respectful exchange of views on the highly controversial subject in a single afternoon. However, the issue did not die, and a 2004 state law expressly allowed concealed weapons on all Utah college campuses.
If Nominated, I Will Not Accept; If Elected, I Will Serve After All
When I received an e-mail notifying me that I had been nominated to be president-elect of the Academic Senate, my immediate reaction was to decline the nomination. Mother Nature, however, had other plans. I was on a research project in Russia at the time, and a lightning strike knocked out the network for about 10 days, preventing me from sending a timely response. After being elected in absentia, I decided that this might be an interesting gig after all. In fact, it launched an adventure into higher-ed administration from which I have not yet fully recovered. Today I serve as president of Weber State University.
Academic Senate President, 2005-2006
The most memorable aspect of my term as president was a profoundly personal matter- the tragic illness and eventual death of Nancy Stroud, who had long served in the position of Secretary of the Faculty and Academic Senate Administrative Officer. In addition to the personal tragedy, her illness and passing presented great challenges for Senate leadership. As any past president will confirm, the person in the Secretary position is a vital contributor to shared governance at the University, both assisting and in many respects guiding the relatively short-term Senate leaders in carrying out their duties and making the Senate function. That position is also the ‘bedrock’ administrator for populating Senate committees and most other University committees. Nancy Stroud had been an exemplary occupant of that vital position for several years, and as I contemplated beginning my term in the office I was very glad to know I would be in Nancy’s competent care. Tragically, she developed an initially mysterious illness, and it was appearing almost exactly at the time of the transfer of the presidency responsibilities to me from my predecessor. She valiantly continued attempting to do much of her work from her sick bed at home and then later while hospitalized, and for most of my term we were all optimistically hopeful that she would recover. In part because of her great love of her work we chose to keep her employee position reserved. Nancy showed that she truly loved her work—and was deeply devoted to it. Very near the end of my term, it finally became apparent that she would not be able to return to her role for the 2006-2007 year, and I and my successor had to explain to Nancy that we could no longer hold her beloved job open and would have to recruit a replacement. Most sadly, Nancy lost the battle with what had finally been identified as a form of leukemia, and she passed away on May 20, 2006, shortly after the entire Senate membership signed and had me deliver to her hospital room a commendation for her years of outstanding service. The University and Nancy’s church fittingly jointly hosted a memorial service on May 31, attended by hundreds of the faculty, staff, and administrators she had helped over many years of service at the University, including a long stretch with the Senate. I had the privilege of speaking at the memorial on behalf of the Senate and faculty.
The personal tragedy of Nancy’s illness and death, and the tremendous difficulties her unavailability during the long illness created for me as president, also presented opportunities for many wonderful people at the University to step up and help to keep the Senate and the committee system running. My home department, the college of law, tolerated my suddenly having to devote far more time than expected to my Senate responsibilities for most of the year. Senior Vice President Pershing generously arranged to keep Nancy in an employment status eligible for health care benefits (well beyond contractual obligations), and yet also provide funds for hiring a part-time temporary assistant for me near the end of the year. That was Darla Jones, a retired staff member who came out of retirement and devoted many hours to helping us through the crucial annual elections and committee-populating season, and was assisted by other staff members in the Senior VP’s office, especially Pat Armstrong, Sheila Olson, and Melissa Hill. Throughout the year, Parliamentarian Paul Mogren provided guidance, and my presidential predecessor Larry DeVries, and successor Kirtly Parker-Jones, provided guidance and much assistance. And among the most notable– Ann Marie Breznay, Senator from the Marriott Library and Secretary of the Senate Executive committee, stepped in to mostly take over Nancy’s responsibilities for keeping both Executive Committee and Senate meeting minutes, enabling us to maintain good records for the year. Susan Olson, Associate VP for Faculty, spent many hours advising me on aspects of the Senate office she was more familiar with than most anyone else at the University aside from Nancy. This nearly year-long slow-motion tragedy showed me that the spirit of cooperation and “chipping in during times of trouble” was a core characteristic of the University community generally and particularly those associated closely with the Senate and the administrative offices that regularly work with the Senate office. Together, with Nancy from her sick bed on occasional lucid days between chemotherapy bouts sending me reminders and contributing her ‘institutional memory’ of procedures, and others supporting me in various ways, we managed to keep the Senate operating (particularly challenging because this was still a “paper” era– before use of electronic distribution of agendas and notices), and kept the committee system running.
My experience with Nancy’s situation left me with a deep appreciation of the contributions made by each person who has served as Secretary of the Faculty, and that has only grown deeper through further experience. I have continued to be involved in Senate leadership since my term as president, serving at one point as parliamentarian, and for the past several years as the Senate Liaison to the Institutional Policy Committee (which many people refer to as “University Policy Guru”).That long close association has enabled me to observe perhaps more fully than anyone in University history just how vital is the role of the Senate Secretary. I urge the faculty and all members of the University community to recognize the work of the staff members who have served in that capacity- particularly current Senate Secretary—Shawnendoaha “Shawnee” Worsley. I’ve had the privilege of working with her very closely throughout her time in position, and she is, much like the great Nancy Stroud before her, a devoted, talented, and highly effective servant of shared governance at the University. She keeps the wheels turning.
To less personal matters, here are some of the noteworthy occurrences/accomplishments of the Senate during my 2005-2006 presidential term:
• Enactment of a ‘landmark’ Policy on Faculty Parental Leaves for tenure-line faculty of all colleges other than Medicine (delayed to the following year), with proposal developed by the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women, with leadership of Associate VP Susan Olson, and Prof. Elizabeth Tashjian, a team I was privileged to assist on the project. Ultimately approved by the Senate after lengthy and difficult debate.
• Enactment of a new Policy on Violence in the Workplace and Academic Environment. I was privileged to assist the Human Resources administration, including the great late Tom Loveridge in crafting the Policy and moving it through approval.
• Approval of revised sanctions available against faculty members for violations under the Code of Faculty Rights and Responsibilities, a project led by Susan Olson and leadership of the Academic Freedom and Faculty Rights Committee.
• Revision of the Academic Calendar to include a full-week fall break (idea raised in 2005 by Senator & former president Ken Jameson, then proposal developed through this year by a commission including students, administrators, and Senate President Flores representing the faculty). Approved after lengthy and difficult Senate debate, to take effect in fall 2007.
• Successful completion of NCAA 10-year recertification of the University’s athletic programs (with Senate President Flores representing the faculty on task force during the comprehensive year-long project)
• Approved revision of policies governing the former Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee- renamed and assigned differing responsibilities as the Academic Freedom and Faculty Rights Committee. Following through on a project of dividing up responsibilities for grievance investigations between the recently created Consolidated Hearing Committee, and this committee. Among other points, the policy revisions clarified that this committee is to serve as a forum for academic-freedom complaints from any member of the University community (students, administrative officers, and academic staff, as well as faculty). Project led by Susan Olson and leadership of the committee.
• Approval of new “Mission Statement” of the University (developed by ad hoc committee chaired by Senate President Flores representing the faculty, with guidance of Assoc. VP John Francis).
And generally, throughout the term, I enjoyed excellent relations and very open communication with President Michael Young (who had taken office during my year as President-elect), Senior VP David Pershing, and Sr. VP Lorris Betz, and perhaps most importantly, Associate VP Susan Olson and Associate VP John Francis. I came away from that experience very pleased with the degree of cooperation and openness of communication between the central administration and the faculty, which I think are among the hallmark characteristics of our institution. As my term in the Senate presidency ended I was asked by Assoc. VP Olson to serve in a newly created role of “special assistant for faculty policy”—a role I have continued to serve in to the present. Among other benefits, this role puts me in a position to be able to assist each year’s Senate leadership team and central administrators to continue the tradition of working cooperatively through our shared-governance mechanisms to further the University’s missions.
From my multiple perspectives and extensive personal experience, I see that shared-governance generally, and the Academic Senate in particular, are in very good circumstances as we complete a century of experience.