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LVAIC Offers Presentation on Shared Governance for Emerging Campus Leaders

January 21, 2019, @ 8:56 AM

As part of the on-going initiative to enhance the skills and capabilities of member faculty and staff, LVAIC hosted the January session of the Higher Education Leaders Institute. The topic of this full-day session included Shared Governance and Human Resources.

The morning began with of speaker and facilitator, David Parkyn, offering an overview of his journey, leading his career from teaching to higher education administration. Parkyn offered perspective on the challenges of understanding shared governance, which is a common model in higher education. The purpose of this workshop was to gain information on and understanding of this model.

Parkyn offered a case study on the University of Carolina, Chapel Hill and its chancellor resigning over controversies on their campus. Parkyn outlines this incident as an example of “the disruption of campus governance on any one of our own campuses.”

He then moved forward to outline the history of shared governance as beginning with the idea of collegiality. He went on to explain that shared governance is a “model of one that is practiced in 4,000 different ways.” This variation is due to every campus having different structures, sizes, cultures, and campus sizes. Several factors impact shared governance, including the institutional affiliations, accreditation standards, and institutional type. Moreover, this model is not unique to higher education. It applies to healthcare more commonly, and has been adopted over time.

Parkyn offered an overview of the history of and original documentation for the shared governance model, highlighting the key concepts to include “joint effort” and “shared responsibility.” These documents name the governing board as the final institutional authority, but also notes that this board should undertake appropriate self-limitation. The president shares responsibility and acts as the chief planning officer with delegated authority from the board and the faculty. The faculty hold responsibility for the curriculum. Moreover, the board and president should concur with faculty on questions of faculty status. Overall, the board of trustees offers the ultimate authority. In the traditional model, staff, student life, and students themselves are not directly represented.

In the best circumstances, the presidents, board, and faculty all work together. The president functions as the main connection between the faculty and the board, facilitating communication between both groups. Parkyn observes that in most situations, this model is endorsed, but rarely is it implemented. In the ideal implementation, this model acts as a system for aligning institutional priorities.

The Association for Governing Boards completed a study on shared governance, finding that only 32% of faculty believe presidents understand this model and only 22% of faculty members believe that presidents understand this model (2016). Parkyn asserts that the main reason for weak and ineffective shared governance is a history of “lack of attention paid to fostering trust, respect, and communication.” A cultural shift around this idea must occur before institutions hold the power to overcome these challenges.

Parkyn offers an example of three types of governance responsibility for campuses. The first model is fiduciary where important but common, everyday decisions occur through shared governance. This is mainly considered “solo” governance, wherein a particular area of campus makes a decision but consults other areas of campus. The second idea is strategic, which involves reaching beyond the present day to focus on the next 3-5 years of the institution. This is common in strategic planning and new academic programs. In this model, two of the three areas (board of trustees, president, and faculty) work collaboratively to make a decision. Lastly, generative is the final structure. This idea is imaginative and seeks to find entirely new ways to organize the institution. In this way, representatives from the entire campus work together to make larger and most impactful decisions.

The attendees applied this understanding and research to four case studies from four different colleges. These case studies explored salary increases, program reviews, and campus crises. These conversations disrupt the daily routine of a campus, and the participants in the room recognized that this is a journey for all institutions.

During the human resources portion of the day, Alma Scott-Buczak, Associate Vice President of Human Resources at Lafayette College, and Chris Halladay, Associate Vice President of Human Resources at Lehigh University, offered a presentation on the reporting structure, scope, and goals of human resources.

After sharing their own career journeys, Scott- Buczak and Halladay outlined the organization of human resources and what aspects that the department may or may not facilitate and manage. These duties include legal, payroll, administration, training and development, hiring, Title IX, compliance, benefits and others. Similarly, many human resource departments funnel through different reporting structures. In some instances, the human resources department reports through the finance department. In other instances, it reports directly to the president.

Human resources generally collaborates with all departments across the campus. It advises, influences, and informs aspects of the hiring process, security, environmental health and safety, compliance, employee wellness, and more. As this department continues to adapt to the changing dynamics of higher education, new positions and responsibilities continue to fall into this department.

Some new initiatives that human resources are focusing in on include health and medical, recruitment, diversity and inclusion, climate surveys, employee relations, compensation, retirement, wellness, engagement, and compliance. Moreover, these structures fit into academic-focused versus administrative-focus and centralized versus de-centralized. Different departments prefer different structures around this based on their own goals.

The higher education leaders institute discussed their own institutional structure and how their interactions with human resources can function more efficiently. This led to a presentation regarding present and pressing topics in human resources and how higher education’s human resources are handling these issues.

These issues include the #MeToo movement, and how the increased visibility around many events around this are impacting higher education. A much more heightened awareness around these instances is being encouraged across the community. Another upcoming trend is in the active job market with more challenging recruitment efforts, as most candidates have multiple offers.

Overall, this presentation offered yet another aspect of the many facets of higher education as these individuals continue to aspire to their next steps in their higher education careers.

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