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Shared Governance Task Force presents final report

Consisting of faculty, administrators, classified staff and students, the task force was charged with reviewing and recommending a structure of effective shared governance Universitywide.

June 10, 2015

Citing challenges ranging from defining “shared governance” to addressing historical issues of mistrust, Shared Governance Task Force co-chairs, Winston Grady-Willis, Africana Studies Department chair, and Braelin Pantel, associate vice president for student engagement and wellness/dean of students, presented the task force’s final report to the Board of Trustees on June 5.

Made up of faculty, administrators, classified staff and students, the task force was charged with reviewing and recommending a structure of effective shared governance Universitywide. It was convened last fall by President Stephen Jordan based in part on results from past campus climate surveys revealing dissatisfaction among some respondents who felt they didn’t have meaningful opportunities to contribute to decision-making at MSU Denver.

To make the process as inclusive as possible, the task force distributed a survey to all employees and enrolled students, asking questions about perceptions surrounding MSU Denver’s Shared Governance Statement and existing governance structures like the Faculty Senate and Classified Staff Council.

The task force also conducted confidential focus groups for members of classified staff, administrators, faculty and students, met with members of MSU Denver’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors, and consulted numerous resources, including a report by the external Education Advisory Board titled “Shared Governance Structures” and other documents.

“This process was both incredibly rewarding and enlightening — but also quite challenging,” Pantel said. “I am so appreciative of the task force members as well as the MSU Denver community members at large, who contributed their perspective, talents and critiques throughout the year.”

After sifting through the data, the task force depicts a more decentralized university in its final report, an environment in which decision-making occurs more often at the college-, school-, department- or unit- level “where the information is.” A redefined President’s Cabinet would serve to discuss and oversee institutionwide decisions and share information.

Grady-Willis and Pantel highlighted other key recommendations from the task force including:

  • establishing a discourse of trust
  • prioritizing communication, including revising the statement of shared governance to better reflect its meaning at MSU Denver
  • increasing opportunities for people’s voices to be heard
  • studying current governance structures
  • increase access to the Board of Trustees and enhancing trustee engagement

Given that these findings were delivered during the summer when many faculty and staff are off campus, the task force urged that the summer semester be used as a “period of reflection on this report.” The report does, however, recommend identifying an independent project manager to coordinate the process going forward.

"Task force reports often find their way to the dust bin of institutional memory,” observed Grady-Willis. “Hopefully, ours will at least kick-start a vigorous and robust discussion campuswide next academic year, one in which those of us who are faculty share center stage with students and other members of the MSU Denver community."

It was suggested that the Board of Trustees review the recommendations of the Shared Governance Task Force in more depth at its fall retreat.

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