A publication for the faculty, staff, administrators, and friends of California State University, Chico
September 7, 2006 Volume 37 / Number 1

 

Academic Senate Chair: No Place Like Home for Shared Governance

Friends and colleagues have asked me about my experience last year as an ACE Fellow. My response has been: “Great, I learned a lot.” And the truth is, I did, but I haven’t had the time to explain in more detail some of the things that I learned. For those of you who don’t know about the American Council on Education (the acronym is pronounced A-C-E) Fellows Program, it is touted as the premier higher education leadership development program in the country. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to participate in the program, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in developing his or her leadership skills.

My year in the ACE Fellows Program was filled with meetings, readings, case studies, online discussions, special projects, and two-week seminars. As a group, we traveled to college and university campuses all over the country and parts of Mexico, meeting with senior-level administrators and faculty leaders to learn firsthand about their challenges and successes in higher education. We even visited CSU, Chico one warm day in February and met with President Zingg, the president’s Cabinet, academic senators, Associated Student government officers, CSU trustees, local government officials, and CSU system officials.

Now home and stepping into the role of Academic Senate chair, let me share with you one lesson that I learned: Last year, I observed many faculty senates, staff councils, and student governments that were well intentioned, but ceremonial at best. For the most part, decisions at some (not all) of these institutions were made by senior administrators. Faculty control of and involvement in curriculum and policy was severely curtailed. Through readings, I learned more about the erosion of shared governance in higher education as many institutions reorganize and reinvent themselves in an effort to compete in a global market economy. Today I carry a stronger commitment to shared governance than I have ever had. And I’ve come to appreciate CSU, Chico more deeply because we are still an institution where shared governance is integral to our community, and where the Academic Senate is central to the actions of shared governance.

This year the Academic Senate will renew its commitment to the principles of shared governance and work to improve its effectiveness in decision-making processes on campus. Academic senators will strive to hear your voice and bring your perspectives to senate and standing committee meetings. You can help too by knowing who your senate representatives are, seeking us out, and weighing in on the issues that confront our university. Here’s to the strong tradition of the Academic Senate! Long live shared governance at Chico State!

—Gayle Hutchinson, chair, Academic Senate