As we realize the vision of UB 2020 strategic plan coming to fruition, the next two to four years will be the most important period in UB’s history. The faculty, UB’s human academic capital, is the “secret sauce” to the success of UB; not everyone appreciates this, but we do. Moving from vision to implementation, shared governance and visionary leadership will be key.
Shared governance, as stated by the National Education Association (NEA), “is critical to the culture and vitality of higher education. Any decline in the participation of faculty in governance seriously threatens the quality of higher education institutions.” SUNY Trustee H. Carl McCall states, “SUNY is committed to academic excellence and public good through models of Shared Governance.” He goes on, “Shared Governance is critical to the effectiveness of systems of higher education, like SUNY, ensuring that all of our stakeholders – from students and faculty to community representatives and elected officials – have a voice at the leadership table and are committed to working together.”
In my platform statement two years ago for Chair of the UB Faculty Senate the words “shared governance” never appeared. I spoke of “joint governance” but not “shared governance.” I have now learned from SUNY Voices that they are similar, but not identical. They both share the values of trust, collegiality, dialogue, mutual respect, listening, a shared sense of purpose, accountability, and perspectives; always being mindful of diversity and inclusion; always remembering some of us have certain privileges and experiences of life that others have not; remaining humble, recognizing differences while remaining open to finding common ground, and most importantly transparency of information. But by way of differences, joint governance is patriarchal and places the faculty and the faculty senate into a vertical silo focused only on areas such as academic freedom, admissions, curriculum, teaching, degrees, research, promotion, and tenure, but with little input on other matters (budgets, councils, foundations, administrator evaluations, etc.). Shared governance espouses that each of the five pillars (faculty, professional staff, students, administration and university councils/alumni organizations) have a seat, a voice, and a vote in broader university matters.
I have been inspired by the championing of shared governance by Chancellor Nancy Zimpher and BOT Chair H. Carl McCall, and by the examples set by the SUNY University Faculty Senate, SUNY Fredonia, and Orange County Community College. Since the summer of 2015 as Chair of the UB Faculty Senate, I have strived to inculcate the spirit and the process of shared governance into every aspect of University at Buffalo governance and culture.
Our faculty, FS, and FSEC accomplishments have required hard work and our setbacks have been humbling, but we have always had the best interest of UB in mind. As you all know, my motto for the FS has been, “shared governance is not about saying no. It’s about finding ways to move forward.”
The Chairperson of the FS is in a key position to provide advocacy for all of the academic faculty in UB’s shared governance process. Unlike the myriad of other academic leaders on campus who serve “at the pleasure” of the individual who appointed them, the Chairperson (and Secretary) of the Faculty Senate are completely independent and accountable only to the voting faculty.
The recent election (November 2016) of the Faculty Senate Chair was a referendum on shared governance. I appreciate all of your support. As Chairperson, I invite all faculty to please join the UB Faculty Senate on our shared governance journey.
Dr. Philip Glick, Chair
I consider it a privilege to serve as a member of the SUNY at Buffalo system of shared governance, the University Senate. The Senate serves as a strong voice to maintain values such as academic freedom, gender equality and environmental awareness. The premise of shared governance is that it instils in its members a sense of ownership, responsibility and accountability. As a part of the Senate, it gives me a wonderful opportunity to participate in the stewardship of the university at a locale where the faculty and administration intersect. I am grateful to be able to contribute to the smooth working of the University machinery, making it a haven for expediting learning, facilitating creativity and increasing global awareness in a safe and healthy environment.
Dr. Jessy Alexander, Secretary