An attempt to share is benevolent – The Oracle
Shared governance at Hamline has raised concerns about the level of transparency as the school continues to move forward into the future.
As part of a higher education institution, Hamline’s academic departments and programs undergo constant review, comment and change. More recently, these changes sparked conversations about shared governance and transparency at Hamline after things like the CLA’s accelerated curriculum review for the 2020-21 school year and running throughout the COVID-pandemic. 19.
As defined by the American Association of University Teachers, shared governance refers to the existing structure and process that faculty, staff, administrators, and administrators participate in when governing a higher education institution. At Hamline, this impacts things like decisions about departments, programs, curriculum, and other conversations.
Lately, the subject of shared governance has come under scrutiny in relation to the way it plays out at university.
“Shared governance is something that professors and our administrators talk about a lot, but my experience is that there is a different perception of what shared governance is,” said Binnur Ozkececi-Taner, professor of political science. “From a faculty perspective, there is a need for faculty, staff and students to be involved as much as possible in the decision-making process. From an administration perspective, I think it’s more about sharing information about certain policies.
Hamline has a plethora of committees covering many spheres of academic need where faculty are typically represented, while sometimes lacking in decision-making power.
For the moment, no faculty or student is part of the Board of Directors, one of the key players in shared governance. One of the most important roles of the board is to financially support the university.
“The differences in the weight of voice of each group on a particular issue should be determined by the extent of their responsibility and expertise on that issue,” writes the AAUP website.
English Department Chair and Professor Mike Reynolds has played many roles at Hamline, both as a teacher and as an administrator. He recognizes the ways in which the tension has arisen.
“I would say I continue to be frustrated with the lack of communication and clarity on how things work. Communication, I think, has been a constant issue since I’ve been here, but I feel like it’s been a challenge the last few years, ”said Reynolds. “I also think there is a challenge around consultation versus collaboration, some administrators would say the faculty role in shared governance is to consult, but not necessarily to be part of the actual decision-making. … Meaningful collaboration, meaningful collective decision-making, is expected to occur in various places.
Recently, the approach that has been taken to shared governance and decision-making as Hamline faces increased market pressures is what the distinguished professor David Schultz describes as a “top / down” approach. This corresponds to something hierarchical, where many professors believe that a collaborative approach would be more beneficial.
Schultz is also hoping for different clarity from the “top” and bottom. With more transparency on the part of the Foundation Board and the administrators.
“[Our shared governance] is not as strong as it could be, and it comes to the detriment of the university, ”he said. “We need to make a commitment as an institution to be more transparent about the goals and the financial situations of a whole bunch of different things. [That’s] a good first step in terms of improving governance and in terms of ‘okay we will solicit input and information from, again, all constituencies concerned’, as a way to strengthen decision making . “
The benefit of the shared governance model is irreplaceable in the eyes of many faculty members, recognizing that there are aspects of Hamline that need to be improved.
“If we don’t have shared governance, I think the relationship with administration and faculty would be adversarial, and we don’t want that. Having a good model of shared governance is going to make Hamline University much stronger than it already is, ”said Ozkececi-Taner. “[It] conveys the idea and perception that faculty, staff, students and our administrators work together. This model is therefore the model that we should aspire to achieve. I don’t think we are there. I think there has to be a good faith effort on the part of the administration, as well as the faculty, so that we can work together to make Hamline a better place for everyone.
Acting MarshalAndy rundquist has also held many positions at Hamline and thinks similarly about shared governance after the experiences he has had. Part of his role as Acting Provost is to help identify areas that Hamline could improve in the future.
“I think the outline of our system right now is exactly the ingredients we need, and I think we can always improve,” said Rundquist. “There are some stages where the transparency of the process just didn’t exist before, so we have to start new lines of communication, but it’s not a major change. ”
Ideas on how the shared governance model can improve include an emphasis on collaboration rather than partisan positions or hierarchical approaches, transparency in decisions and processes, wider ranges of representation and a common perspective to meet the challenges.
“Shared governance can’t just be about vetoing decisions you don’t like. He has to take responsibility for the kinds of challenges we face together, ”Reynolds said. “I would like to see further improvement in some of the structures that we have, for example, I would like to see representation on the board. I would like to see student representation on the board. It seems to me to be a crucial step towards a more robust model of shared governance with all stakeholders …. if we really want shared governance in different ways, it should just be consistent across all stakeholder groups.