Taggart Examines Shared Governance, Communication
In his role as chair of the faculty, Mark Taggart (Music) shares his perspective on shared governance
By Mark Taggart
On the Faculty Senate home page, there is a definition of shared governance supplied by Don Sexauer, chair of the faculty from 1995 to 1998:
“Shared governance in an academic setting is a fragile balancing act that takes place between the administration of the university and its faculty. It is the attempt by the administration and the faculty to solve problems and implement policies in a manner that benefits all the constituencies of the university.”
Don Sexauer was telling us that successful outcomes of shared governance include the ability to solve problems and implement policies. But these decisions cannot be made in a vacuum, as they require communication, between and within all of the constituencies of the university. The “fragile balancing act” that Sexauer referred to is necessary so that every voice has the opportunity to be heard, but within the proper context and appropriate setting.
So where does this communication take place? Faculty Senators, who are elected to represent their academic units, are responsible for sharing their colleagues’ views and concerns of the issues that are discussed on the Senate floor. ECU’s faculty governance structure is well respected among our peers. The Faculty Senate is responsible for the contents of the faculty manual. Every new faculty member receives a copy of Part XII of our faculty manual, which describes the Personnel Action Dossier (PAD), the collection of documents that provides a record of the accomplishments of a faculty member seeking reappointment, promotion, or tenure. The PAD is crucial to communication, and every incoming faculty member should acquaint themselves not only with the contents of Part XII, but also how this document will be employed for personnel actions described in Appendix D. Appendix D of the Faculty Manual describes tenure and promotion policies and procedures at ECU.
Our tenure and promotion recommendations are made in what could be described as a “two-track” system, where faculty make their recommendations in the appropriate unit committee, and where administrators have the opportunity to concur or to not concur with the appropriate unit committee’s recommendation. Unit administrators are also responsible for, in consultation with the unit’s tenure committee, providing the probationary term faculty member a progress towards tenure letter every spring during the faculty member’s probationary term. The consultation that occurs during this process will be helpful when the unit’s faculty and administration are to make the recommendation for promotion and/or tenure at the end of the probationary term.
To ensure that all voices are heard in the appropriate manner in personnel policies, the roles that faculty and administration play in personnel matters are painstakingly outlined in our Appendix D. Every constituency has the opportunity to provide input, but in a manner in which the fragile balance between the recommendations of faculty and administration is appropriately conveyed.
This is but a brief outline of the role proper communication plays in personnel actions. Proper communication is necessary for all matters within the university. Talk to your colleagues. Talk to your senators. Get involved. Utilize our standing committee structure and Faculty Senate to help convey your interests in shaping ECU, our University.
The faculty manual is available at http://www.ecu.edu/cs-acad/fsonline/manual/facultymanual.cfm, or a CD can be obtained from the Faculty Senate office.