College Governance Final Report

 

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College Governance Committee Report

The Charge for the College Governance Committee was published in the minutes of the February 12, 2009 meeting of the Quarterly Joint FAC, Deans and Cabinet Meeting and is as follows:

“This committee would examine and, based on best practices, propose a strengthened role for the colleges and deans in the governance of the university in light of the increased complexity and growth of the University… The group would propose a new model for college governance and the role of the dean for Board review and action.” 

The membership of the committee is as follows: Drs. Bernie Graham (Chair), Thomas Baldino, Paul Browne, Dale Bruns, Loren Prescott, Michael Speziale, John Stachacz, Robert Tuttle, Terese Wignot, Deborah Zbegner, and Mr. Joseph Kultys. 

Committee Process


The committee met on seven consecutive Monday afternoons at 1:00 pm in the Conference Room of Weckesser Hall. In addition to the weekly meetings that were held, members of the committee collaborated via Google.docs and offered their comments, suggestions, and revisions to several documents including The Role of Deans (see Appendix A), a preamble to that document, and a listing of standards (dealing with authority and relating to college governance) from the Small Business Development Center. Discussions regarding the introduction to the “Role of the Deans’ document lead to the following passage being accepted:  

“The committee recommends that Wilkes University operate in accordance with a new University Handbook, created with an organic framework which creates a governance structure that allows the University to be governed in a way that adapts and changes through time as the needs of the University changes. The new governance structure should streamline and enhance communication among each unit of the university.   The operational guidelines set by this handbook should create an organization where colleges and schools operate with a degree of autonomy vis-à-vis the overall university structure and in a way that cannot be circumvented by groups outside of the specific college or school.

The Deans of each school or college should have the ability to manage their space, resources (personnel, capital and funds), and loading issues within a framework based on a model that is predicable from fiscal year to fiscal year.  This system will utilize standard procedures which will create equity in dealing with issues involving the colleges and schools. This system will then allow for the deans and faculty of each college or school to work as a cohesive and collaborative unit.”

This document, along with the revisions from the committee members, identified the need to more clearly define the roles and terms of a Dean, College, School, and Department at Wilkes University. These definitions are especially important considering the transition from College to University status in 1990, where many changes have affected the academic structure of Wilkes, but have not been reflected in the changing roles and responsibilities of the colleges and their deans at this university. One of the documents identified in our discussions, which is in need of major revisions to reflect these global changes to university status, is the Faculty Handbook. Many of the policies and decisions outlined in this document are reflective of a time before the growth and change to university status, and no longer accurately reflect the current conditions that exist at Wilkes University today. 

Benchmarking Institutions

The committee members were charged with researching peer colleges/universities (similar to Wilkes University) for their governance structure to be used as benchmark institutions, and report their findings back to the committee for discussion. The colleges/universities included for committee discussion were Drake University, Campbell University, Creighton University, King’s College, Misericordia University, Quinnipiac University, Shenandoah University, Villanova University, and Widener University. Commonalities in governance structure among these institutions included each of the colleges (within their own institutions) having their own bylaws and/or constitution, control over faculty and loading within their respective colleges, Tenure and Promotion decisions being controlled by the colleges, and Faculty Senates established for greater representation in governance issues. 

Role of the Deans Document
 
Strengthening the Role of the Colleges    
           
One of the results of the discussions regarding the proposed Role of the Deans document is that the university has to more clearly define the terms of Dean, College, School, and Department within this University. Is a College a collection of similar programs that have an administrative structure, consisting of a Dean and Chair(s) governed by a set of rules, a constitution, or bylaws? Defining the role of the Colleges would make it easier to attain more autonomy over the development of their faculty, their individual budgets, tenure and promotion decisions, and curriculum decisions. Another area needing more clearly defined roles is the existing relationship between the colleges/deans/President’s Cabinet/and the Presidency as a distinct office. The status of the colleges, their representation on President’s Cabinet, and their influence in terms of governance structures and policies must be more clearly identified and strengthened. The role of the College in determining outcomes for tenure and promotion decisions needs to be reviewed an evaluated with the goal of establishing norms and standardized procedures for these decision-making processes across each of the colleges.
 
In an attempt to further strengthen the role of the colleges, they should have an academic structure and responsibilities which would include the following:
  • leadership by the dean
  • departments that are lead by chairs
  • individual bylaws and/or constitutions for stronger governance structures
  • direct influence over budget and planning resources that include personnel, operational, and capital budgetary expenditures
  • a budget and planning process that is developed by the Chairs/Deans/Provost
  • authority over the faculty loading process
  • a more organized committee structure for curriculum development  and Student Affairs processes
  • development of a Faculty Senate with representation from each of the colleges, as well as committee members at-large
  • a clear pathway and procedure for tenure and promotion procedures: one that begins at the department level and more clearly establishes a role for the college and the dean

Along with more clearly defining the role of the colleges, the roles that they play in regard to marketing, communications, and fundraising must also be more clearly defined.   Currently these functions are performed, at various levels, within the colleges and by the deans. However, there needs to be a more standardized definition and set of expectations for what these roles mean, especially in response to the changing roles as the college became a university. 

 
Strengthening the Role of the Deans
 
One of the results of creating a more strengthened and clearly defined role for the colleges would be an increased level of authority and responsibility for the deans. The strength of the Academic Unit would depend on the strength of the role of the dean in charge of that unit. Defining the roles of the deans would also involve determining if the deans are to be considered faculty. The Dean of a college should be the candidate selected by the Provost, in concurrence with the faculty. The Dean should be responsible for selecting the chairs, in concurrence with the Provost and the faculty. The contract terms for chairs and deans should be indeterminate, and subject to periodic 3600 performance reviews and evaluations. In order to strengthen the role of the dean within the colleges, the dean should have more of a decision-making capacity in the following areas:
  • authority and transparency involving budgetary issues within the colleges
  • influence over the strategic plan for the college
  • ability to determine the research definitions and goals of the colleges
  • status in the President’s Cabinet
  • space utilization issues concerning classrooms and laboratory space

 

Survey Instrument
 
A survey entitled “Committee on University Governance Survey” was developed by the College Governance Committee (see Appendix B) and distributed via SurveyMonkey to all members of the committee, and the responses from the nine members who completed the survey were tabulated and shared with the committee members. The purpose of the survey was for the respondents to express their individual core beliefs of how we think things should be, and not as a reflection of how they currently are, regarding the university, college, and faculty governance strengths and challenges. The results of the survey clearly identify that in most cases, the ‘College’ should be considered as the prime-mover in the decision-making processes that affect their individual areas. Decisions should be made in conjunction with the ‘decider’ and ‘concurer,’ whether they are defined as the Faculty, Academic Council, or Wilkes Executive, with their various roles and influence on the prime-mover. Definitions of terms from the survey included the following:
  • College: The college includes the individual faculty members, departments, programs and administrative staff in the college unit. It is a collective term.
  • Academic Council: The academic council includes the direct reports to the provost, the academic leader of the campus. It includes the deans.
  • Wilkes Faculty: The Wilkes Faculty refers to the faculty of the University as a collective body.
  • Wilkes Executive: The Wilkes Executive refers to the President’s cabinet, including the Provost. It also refers to the rest of the University community not in the academic arena.
  • Prime Mover: The prime mover is the person or group which initiates and leads the activity. It is the champion, or the person or group most interested or with most at stake.
  • Decider: The person or group who makes the decision.
  • Concurer: These are the persons or groups who have to concur or agree with the decision. There may be several levels of concurrence thus we have a PRIMARY, SECONDARY, and TERTIARY level of concurrence. The PRIMARY is the most important.
Summary of the responses from the survey questions:
  • Q1-Selection & Design of Curriculum: split b/w College (55.6%) & Faculty (44.4%) as prime mover
  • Q2-Faculty composition & work assignments: College (77.8%) is prime mover & decider
  • Q3-Academic Research: College (87.5%) is prime mover
  • Q4-Faculty assessment: College (88.9%) is prime mover and decider
  • Q5-Compensation systems: Mixed results (no apparent trends)
  • Q6-Allocated funds for academic staff: College (77.8%) is prime mover
  • Q7-Allocation of university space: College (88.9%) is prime mover
  • Q8-Allocation of operational resources: College (77.8%) is prime mover
  • Q9-Allocation of strategic resources: College (100.0%) is prime mover
  • Q10-College or school should:
    • Have overall leadership by a Dean                                                            YES
    • Have departments lead by Chairs                                                             YES
    • Have a constitution and/or bylaws                                                            YES
    • Have internal committee structures                                                          YES
    • Determine faculty instructional & non-instructional loads                         YES
  •  Q11-Budget concerns: YES for all categories in this series
    • Deans have authority over operational/personnel/capital/facilities budgets?
    • Chairs have authority over department’s operational/personnel/capital budgets?
    • Planning process should be collaborative b/w deans & provost.
    • Planning process for departments should be collaborative process b/w chairs & deans?
  • Q12-At the University level: YES for all categories in this series
    • Academic governance structure?
    • University Senate?
    • University Senate including representation on President’s Cabinet?
    • University Senate including representation on the Board of Trustees?

Discussions are on-going regarding distributing the survey to members of the President’s Cabinet and adding their results to those already tabulated from the committee members. Results from this group would be tallied with those already received from the committee. Please see the attached survey for a complete listing of the questions, responses, and survey data that was collected. 

Recommendations from the Committee

The committee discussions, research, survey results, and collaboration have lead to the following recommendations being proposed by the committee members:

  • The committee report should be used as a guide for the development of a new Faculty Handbook
     
  • The Faculty Handbook must be revised in terms of reflecting the transition from college to university status, and the growth and changes that have come out of that process
     
  • The roles of the dean/college/school/department must be more clearly defined to reflect the change from College to University status
     
  • The role of the Deans, and therefore the colleges, must be strengthened in terms of budgetary oversight, strategic planning for the colleges, space utilization, representation on President’s Cabinet, leadership in research and strategic planning for the colleges, and faculty workload distribution
     
  • The tenure and promotion process must be reviewed, and standardized norms and procedures must be developed, along with a clear pathway for that process
     
  • Development of a Faculty Senate, comprised of elected representatives from each college, as well as at-large committee members, whom would provide increased representation on President’s Cabinet, as well as a communicative device to express faculty concerns

Throughout the meetings, research, and group collaboration involved in the College Governance Committee activities, it has become evident that the University has been operating according to a University model, without taking into consideration all of the changes necessary to accommodate this shift in status from its historical, collegial roots. The roles of the participants, the academic structures, and the governance models already in place need to be reviewed and revised in light of the growth and overall changes precipitated by that historic change from Wilkes College to Wilkes University. The work of this committee has identified and determined those roles in need of review and definition, and also suggests a more strengthened role for both the colleges and deans within their own academic areas. By strengthening these roles, a new model of college governance should be developed that incorporates these changes, providing better representation and communication within the university structure.  

References

‘Statement of Government of College and Universities’ from the AAUP Policy Manual, Tenth Ed. 2, pages 135-140 Retrieved October 26, 2006 from http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/pubsres/policydocs/contents/governancestatement.htm.

‘An Outsider’s View of Governance Models’ by Leon Trakman, Retrieved March 3, 2009 from http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/pubsres/academe/2008/MJ/Feat/trak.htm?PF=1 
 
‘Governance Review Without Tears’ by Lynn K. Davis and Deborah L. Page, Retrieved March 3, 2009 from http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/pubsres/academe/2006/ND/Feat/Davi.htm?PF=1 
 
‘Who needs a Faculty Senate?’ by Robin Matross helms and Tanya Price, Retrieved March 3, 2009 from http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/pubsres/academe/2005/ND/Feat/matr.htm?PF=1 
 
‘A University Senate for All’ by Gary Engstrand, Retrieved March 3, 2009 from http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/pubsres/academe/2005/MJ/Feat/engs.htm?PF=1 
 
Preliminary Results from the 2001 Survey on ‘Higher Education Governance’ by Gabriel E. Kaplan Retrieved March 3, 2009 from http://www.aaup.org/NR/rdonlyres/449D4003-EB51-4B8D-9829-0427751FEFE4/0/01Results.pdf 
 
‘Conditions of Collaboration: A Dean’s List of Do’s and Don’ts’ by Philip A. Glotzbach, Retrieved March 3, 2009 from http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/pubsres/academe/2001/MJ/Feat/Glot.htm?PF=1 
 
Morris, Van Cleve. (1981). Deaning, Middle Management in Academe. Illinois: University of Illinois press. 
Wilkes University Faculty Handbook, 21st Edition including Changes Adopted 2006-2007. 
 
Appendix A
Role of the Academic Dean at Wilkes University
 

The Academic Leadership Council, consisting of the academic deans, the director for undergraduate education and the provost, gathered on January 29, 2009 to define, among other things, the role of academic deans at Wilkes University. The observations of the dean’s academy, as well as an appreciation of the needs of the University, informed the discussion. Uppermost was the realization of inadequate governance, and including expectations of the deans, in light of our transition from Wilkes College to University. These are conclusions and observations arising from the retreat on the roles and responsibilities of deans, on the needs arising there from. 

Note on terminology: Throughout this document the term “college” is used to denote a major unit of the Academic Division whether officially designated as a “College” or as a “School.”  

Preamble

The committee recommends that Wilkes University operate in accordance with a new University Handbook, created with an organic framework which creates a governance structure that allows the University to be governed in a way that adapts and changes through time as the needs of the University changes. The new governance structure should streamline and enhance communication among each unit of the university.   The operational guidelines set by this handbook should create an organization where colleges and schools operate with a degree of autonomy vis-à-vis the overall university structure and in a way that cannot be circumvented by groups outside of the specific college or school. 

The Deans of each school or college should have the ability to manage their space, resources (personnel, capital and funds), and loading issues within a framework based on a model that is predicable from fiscal year to fiscal year.  This system will utilize standard procedures which will create equity in dealing with issues involving the colleges and schools. This system will then allow for the deans and faculty of each college or school to work as a cohesive and collaborative unit.

Scope of the Dean’s Role

The Academic Dean is both head of a college and an officer of the university. The Dean is a member of the senior academic leadership of Wilkes University and, in this capacity, reports directly to the Provost. As the academic, administrative, and financial head of a college and its faculty, the dean represents the college/school to the administration and to internal and external constituencies. As a member of the academic leadership group, the dean advocates in the best interest of the college but also transcends specific college interests in leadership of the university as a whole.
 
Responsibilities of the Academic Dean include:
  • Planning strategically for the college and advancing the university plan
  • the dean provides vision and direction for the college and its programs; develops and revises the college mission statement and strategic plan, and ensures that the college’s mission, vision, and strategy align with the University’s mission, vision, values, and strategic plan
  • Budgeting, managing and developing all resources of the college
    • personnel (including managing faculty teaching load)
    • financial
    • capital
    • technological 
  • Communicating internally and externally for the college, engaging in community outreach
  • Fundraising in cooperation with Institutional Advancement for the college and its programs 
  • Promoting and developing new programs in cooperation with other colleges and units 
  • Ensuring the integrity and quality of all academic programs within the college  
  • Forming a faculty for the college, ensuring its qualifications and commitment to the college and university mission statements 
  • Leading , encouraging, and supporting accreditation initiatives 
  • Promoting the reputation of the college and the University 
  • Working collaboratively and collegially with the Provost and other deans to provide leadership and management for the University as a whole 
Conditions essential for the effectiveness of the Deans: 

An effective leadership role for deans requires appropriate recognition of that role and of the associated authority throughout the university. The authority of chairs derives from that of the dean, as an academic leader of the college. The Academic Dean functions from a position of inclusive leadership, working closely with department and division chairs and program directors, to manage the college. 

  • In order to act effectively as leaders of their colleges and faculty, deans must have clear authority over the budgets of their colleges, including the personnel budget. Through the chairs, they will oversee appropriateness of teaching load, class size, and the scheduling and content of course offerings.  
  • Deans will have authority over appointments of faculty within their colleges, and over the appointment and replacement and/or reallocations of positions, including review of the chairs. They provide a vision and direction for staffing the programs, and for interdisciplinary cooperation between the colleges. 
  • The management of academic personnel would be vested in the Academic Leadership Council. The cabinet would approve the broad staffing parameters for the colleges and leave specifics to the Academic Council, including approval of allocations and changes within those parameters. Deans will be authorized to reallocate monies and positions across units within their colleges, and justify decisions to the Academic Leadership Council.  
  • Deans will have access to up-to-date reports of budgets, personnel rosters, enrollment, and teaching load for all units within their colleges. Thus, collaboration with the appropriate offices to establish the content, format and frequency of these reports is imperative.  
  • Dedicated staff to support strategic and operational analysis in the colleges is essential.  
  • In recognition of the diversity within the academic division, each college will have its own established governance and authority structure and processes, under the leadership of the dean. Moreover, to lead the college and its faculty, academic deans will have appointments as members of the faculty, with the rank of professor within their colleges.  

Click here to view Appendix B Survey Results(PDF)