Over the course of the past year, each of the major advisory councils (what we often call “affinity groups”) has given serious consideration to how we might improve our shared governance duties and responsibilities. The issue has been discussed in the President’s Cabinet and the Council of Deans, as well. Many, especially the Executive Committee of the Faculty Council, have spent a good portion of their energy this year weighing various approaches to a Senate, a deliberative and consultative body which would bring the major constituencies together around issues of mutual concern and University-wide policy. What seems to have emerged, after considerable discussion and debate within each group, is a proposal for a University-wide Senate. While this might be a challenging experiment—something Loyola has not done before, to my knowledge—it is also an exciting and promising prospect.
We are a complex institution and community. As the largest Jesuit university in the U.S., with ten schools and three urban campuses, dozens of programs, centers and outreach efforts, we have found it difficult to create and sustain a consistent and effective governance structure that is open to each constituency, fairly distributes membership and input opportunities, and efficiently handles new proposals or change. Still, thanks to the good will and generosity of many, we manage. The proposal for a University Senate, which is described here, is the product of deliberations and compromise, which should not surprise anyone. It may need to be adjusted in time. Nevertheless, we need to start somewhere.
Please express my appreciation to your membership for the ideas, comments and feedback on this proposal for a “provisional” University Senate which will take the place of the present UPC structure. This new shared governance structure will begin in the coming academic year. Your input on this proposal has been invaluable as we develop ideas for how the Senate might function.
At its April 17th meeting, the President’s Cabinet reviewed and endorsed a consensus document which outlined the proposed Senate structure and membership (see attachment). Most felt that a smaller overall number of Senators will help the Senate function most effectively. Although the goal will be to choose the 33 members of the Senate through at-large elections within the faculty, staff, and student groups, given the constraints of time, the initial membership will be selected as follows:
Faculty - Each dean will conduct a process of nomination and selection/election of the full-time tenure or non-tenure track (clinical) faculty members by school who will serve for an initial term of two years. Faculty Council is asked to encourage faculty members to participate in the new Senate.
Staff - Human Resources will consult with Staff Council leadership on members for the new Senate. Selections will be approved by the president for a two year term. Staff Council is asked to encourage staff to participate in the Senate.
Students - The Vice President for Student Development will consult with the leadership of USGA on undergraduates who can serve for one year terms and with the Deans on graduate/professional students who would serve one year terms.
Administrators - The President will select three administrators to serve two year terms.
To move this along, I am asking that the selections of members be completed by May 10. The Senate will hold an on-campus organizational retreat on August 16 to choose officers and plan the agenda for the academic year. This experiment will be reviewed and evaluated at the end of two years.
One initial task of the Senate will be to develop a set of By-Laws governing the responsibilities, processes, and decision-making rules of the organization. Many of the recommendations presented by the Faculty and Staff Councils and the USGA will be considered for incorporation in the By-Laws. I’ve asked Provost John Pelissero to organize and implement this provisional Senate for us. He will select a small group from those elected to the Senate to begin that process this summer.
With the creation of the Senate, the current shared governance system represented by the University Coordinating Council and the University Policy Committees is ended. Again, we owe our sincere appreciation to all those who served on these bodies during the past eight years.
I want to stress that the roles and functions of the Faculty Council, Staff Council, and USGA are not changed by the implementation of a Senate. Each may function as it has—as a forum and body for deliberation of issues of particular concern to its membership and constituency. With the new Senate, however, each of these constituent or representative organizations may submit items of general university interest to the Senate for consideration. Similarly, the Senate may submit items to the constituent organizations for their review.
Please share this with your membership and, once again, thank you for your contributions and continued support as we rollout this provisional University Senate.