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Shared governance committee forms working definition, seeks community input

The Shared Governance and Communications Committee has taken one more step toward shared governance at Central Michigan University.

The SGCC released a report early this week outlining what shared governance means to CMU. The report defines shared governance as a dynamic collection of the best practices for engaging, voicing, listening and discussing the interests of all groups when planning, making and implementing decisions for the university.

“The SGCC was the originator of the document,” said Jim Hageman, special assistant to the president. “However, part of the process is sharing and development. We received a lot of comments from faculty members, and many things had to be changed.”

The seven hallmarks of shared governance call for transparency and good communication in the making of important decisions, with an emphasis on allowing all opinions to be voiced.

“Our goal is amicable relations and getting more people involved in the decisions being made,” Hageman said.

Shared governance is a familiar idea at CMU, where five committees have been formed in the past 20 years.

“There are two things that distinguish this from the past,” Hageman said. “First, we are dealing more with faculty, staff and students. Previously, it was between faculty and administration, and we’re trying to open that up. Second, we are trying to shape the documents in a way so that everyone can agree.”

Hageman said a foundational document that outlines the clear chains of leadership and helps to build healthy relations was a needed step.

“I am ambivalent about the report,” Academic Senate member and political science professor James Hill said. “I have seen many of these efforts before. We continue to re-invent the wheel with each report. The survey of the university community, which was part of this process, was the point of most interest to me, and it showed that the problem at CMU was not simply poor communication as the administration contends — it was trust.”

One of the major improvements this time around is the goal of having a system in place to review senior leadership. While a review process exists, it could use improvement, Hageman said.

“We should have regular reviews, and we do,” Hageman said. “We just need to make sure the people reporting to (senior leadership) have a chance to give feedback. That hasn’t happened very much. We haven’t been systematically taking input from people under them.”

Suggestions for the document will be accepted until Feb. 15, and a final version of the document will be presented at an A-Senate meeting following any edits that need to be made.

As part of the initiative on shared governance, the SGCC is hosting an open forum at 6 p.m. Feb. 7 in the Bovee University Center.  Terrence MacTaggart, a senior fellow at the Association of Governing Boards, will describe shared governance from an administrative perspective, while Adrianna Kezar, associate director at the Pullias Center for Higher Education, will tackle shared governance from the viewpoint of a faculty member.

On Feb. 22, a follow-up panel and question-and-answer session will be held from 1 until 2:30 p.m. in French Auditorium.

Both events are open for  all students, faculty, staff and administration.

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