Faculty committees will restructure, strengthen shared governance – The Lafayette

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Later this spring, the faculty will vote on a new policy from the Faculty Governance Committee. This could restructure current on-campus committees, potentially giving students a say in Lafayette’s future annual budgets. Although this policy has not been fully implemented, its objective is to eliminate certain committees in order to promote shared governance and allow faculty members to have an effective impact on their fields of intervention.

Shared governance is the model by which Lafayette delegates governance responsibilities to the board of trustees, student representatives, and faculty.

Brett Hendrickson, chair of the faculty’s governance committee, said the committee has a responsibility to review the governance structure every three to five years, hence the recent review of the framework. If faculty members vote on it this semester, it is expected to come into effect in the fall of 2023 to provide a one-year preparatory transition period.

“Like many higher education institutions, we embrace what we call shared governance, which means that all major constituencies have a say in how the institution operates,” said Jennifer Talarico. , the former Chair of the Governance Committee.

The last time the structure was overhauled was in the spring of 2014, during Talarico’s tenure. She explained that previous revisions did not eliminate any committees, but rather merged those that already existed and changed the charge of others. For example, there was a committee that focused solely on athletics, which was brought under the student life umbrella in 2014.

In terms of current plans, Talarico believes the new policy will help Lafayette continue to embrace shared governance.

“I think for shared governance to be effective, the voices of all of these parties need to be heard, and they need to be heard in a timely manner,” Talarico said. “I think our current structure doesn’t always facilitate this process as effectively as it could.”

Hendrickson gave his reasoning for the policy.

“We explored ways to reduce the number of committees to…focus our efforts where we do the most, where faculty’s role in shared governance is most pronounced, the tasks for which we are truly responsible. “, did he declare. .

The decision to create this policy was partly informed by the two non-faculty committees recently created by President Nicole Hurd that focus on budget and diversity. In creating these other committees, Hurd hoped to use a community-wide approach to relieve pressure on faculty committees and perhaps replace them. The committees will consist of four faculty members, four staff members and one student to attract more community members than is the case under the current structure.

“If it goes well, I think we’ll be making decisions with a lot more voice than we have right now,” Hurd said.

Obtaining tenure at Lafayette depends on three different criteria: teaching, research, and community service. Although not all faculty members sit on a committee, it is a means of satisfying the service requirement. Since there are currently more faculty members than committee positions, Hendrickson stressed that tenure is not required.

“If there were still assumptions out there that you had to sit on a committee to get a job, we want to…clarify that won’t be the case,” Hendrickson said.

Of the 14 faculty committees on campus for this academic year, seven currently have students serving on them, all student government members. Hendrickson acknowledged that the new policy would reduce the number of students serving on committees simply by having fewer committees. However, he said working with students is still an important goal.

“I don’t think the demise of the committee is going to mean that faculty and students still won’t collaborate on student conduct issues,” Hendrickson said. “I think it will just happen under another hospice instead of a faculty committee.”

Although the number of serving students may decline, Lia Charles, vice president of student government, sees an opportunity for student involvement if it becomes a priority.

“This presents an opportunity for faculty committees if they want to get more student engagement,” Charles said. “Like they just have to think and be more creative about how to get that.”

Under this new policy, the permanent faculty committee on student conduct would be eliminated, although faculty would still be involved in student conduct issues. Hendrickson explained that Dean Jennifer Dize, associate dean of students at Lafayette, is currently an administrative advisor on the faculty committee and would assume more control in the area once the committee is eliminated.

“As the college evolves, there are more opportunities for academic professionals to fill these roles,” Hendrickson said. “There is less need for faculty, not necessarily to participate, but less need for faculty to lead these efforts.”

Dean Jennifer Dize declined to comment.

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