- 1 Governance and Administration at Evergreen
- 2 External Environment
- 3 6.A Evergreen's Governing System
- 4 6.B Governing Board
- 5 Leadership and Management
- 6 Faculty Role in Governance
- 7 Student Role in Governance
- 8 Standard Six Findings and Conclusions
- 9 Standards
- 10 Supporting Documentation
Governance and Administration at Evergreen
Evergreen’s governance reflects the college's distinct values. Governance arose from a conception of Evergreen as a community within which all members should have a voice. Governance was seen as a vehicle to exercise and foster collaboration across the college. For example, Evergreen has avoided standing committees, instead relying for policy guidance on the Disappearing Task Force (DTF), a short-term ad hoc committee, consultative and collaborative in nature, with a diverse, broadly based membership. Evergreen’s governance practices seek to make decision making transparent, locatable and accountable.
Changing Conditions Over the past decade, several trends have placed considerable stress on Evergreen’s traditional governance structures:
- Growth - The college continues to grow fairly steadily. A collaborative governance system, seeking personal participation and direct communication among those affected by decision-making, becomes more difficult to orchestrate as the number of participants increases.
- Workload - Simply creating the time needed to do collaborative governance work becomes a challenge as we wrestle with the workload of faculty and staff.
- Turnover- The college is now well into a period of significant, generational transition among faculty and staff. To the extent that the governance practices that preserve our values are a matter of tradition rather than formal policy, and to the extent that the keepers of these traditions leave the college, Evergreen will be challenged to maintain or adapt its practices while preserving its values.
- Complexity - The environment in which the college operates is complex and continually changing. The pace of change in the external environment sometimes moves more quickly than the internal college systems for deliberation and discussion. The college’s funding is increasingly linked (in rhetoric and sometimes reality) to a growing list of accountability expectations, demands for degree production in specific fields, and competition for students from a wide variety of institutions.
Reflecting on the major events and changes in Evergreen’s governance and administration over the past decade, the college has been generally successful in remembering its values during this period. The college’s success in actually living up to those aspirations is, of course, open to some debate. Nevertheless, at critical junctures and through longstanding institutional challenges, these principles have provided an essential governance framework for preserving the unique identity and viability of Evergreen.
The college-wide transitions discussed in Standard 1 are clearly evident in college governance. Evergreen’s system of governance is undergoing some significant transitions in response to changing conditions. These include:
- Continued growth;
- Continuing generational turnover;
- The formation of the Geoduck Student Union, Evergreen's first formally recognized student government;
- The formation of the United Faculty of Evergreen, the college's first faculty union engaged in collective bargaining;
- Continuing emphasis by state policymakers on preparing students for careers in high-demand fields;
- Changing accountability expectations from policymakers and the advent of "performance contracting" as the method for setting the state's portion of the college's budget.
The college will need to pay close attention to governance in the years ahead to insure that the system that develops is in keeping with the college’s mission and core values.
The administration at Evergreen (or any higher education institution) serves at the boundary of the organization, mediating between the needs and expectations of external stakeholders and those of faculty, staff and students who make up the college. To understand the nature of systems for governance and administration at Evergreen, it is useful to first briefly review the external environment in which those systems operate.
The State of Washington’s mechanisms for system-level governance are comparatively decentralized. The Higher Education Coordinating Board (HECB) administers the state's student financial aid programs, approves new degree programs, and is charged with long-range planning for the state’s system of higher education.
The state’s six baccalaureate institutions, including Evergreen, are affiliated through the Council of Presidents (COP). In addition to meetings of the six presidents, the COP structure provides opportunities for collaboration among the state’s chief academic officers, budget officers, legislative officers and others, as well as other groups on an ad hoc basis. From Evergreen’s perspective, a significant change in this state-wide system occurred in 2005, when the legislature required the six baccalaureate institutions, working through the COP process, to present a unified budget request for capital construction, listing all the proposed major capital construction projects in the system in a single, prioritized list. The level of capital funding provided to the college in this period demonstrates that, so far, this process has worked well for Evergreen. (See Standard 8.)
Three other significant changes in the state-wide system of higher education have presented more significant challenges to the college during the period of this self-study: changes in tuition policy, an emphasis on “high demand” enrollment, and a continually evolving focus on accountability. A brief review of these areas serves to show how Evergreen's administration has worked to mediate between expectations in the external environment and the college's internal stakeholders.
During the period of this self-study, the authority for setting tuition levels has rested with the board of trustees, within limits set by the legislature. For instance, in 2007, the legislature gave the board authority to raise tuition for residents of the state up to 5 percent in each of the following two academic years. This limited local control of tuition rests uneasily at Evergreen. The stated policy of the board argues that the authority for setting tuition should be closely linked to the responsibility for funding the state’s financial aid programs and that both these functions properly belong to the legislature. The state has apparently recognized this concern. In each year of the period covered by this self-study, the legislature has increased funding to the State Need Grant program, the state’s primary need-based financial aid program, sufficient to hold recipients of the State Need Grant harmless from the effects of tuition increases.
In most years, this apparent local control of tuition has been undermined by other provisions in the legislative budget, which reduced state support for the college by exactly the amount that would be gained by raising tuition to the maximum allowed level. (The 2007 legislative session was a notable exception to this pattern, when the authority to raise tuition was accompanied by an increase in actual state support for the college.) Given these conditions, the board has consistently elected to raise tuition for resident undergraduates by the maximum amount allowed by the legislature. Over time, the cost burden of higher education is shifting from the state General Fund to students and their families. Ensuring that Evergreen remains accessible to low-income students will require moderating tuition increases, enhanced financial aid from the state, or increased institutional aid from private giving, or some combination of the above.
High Demand Enrollment Funding
Since 2002, the legislature has adopted a policy that provides more generous funding for new enrollment in selected “high demand” fields. The selected fields are chosen to address a concern that “many employers report difficulty in hiring enough qualified graduates from Washington state institutions to fill high-skill job openings.”) For example, in 2004, these fields included “(1) nursing and other health services; (2) applied science and engineering; (3) teaching and speech pathology; (4) computing and information technology; and (5) viticulture and enology.” (Higher Education Coordinating Board, Request For Proposals: Expansion of Enrollment Opportunities in High-demand Fields, April 27, 2004)
In light of this policy, Evergreen has urged the legislature and the HECB to adopt an expansive view of “high demand fields” so that the absence of traditional majors at Evergreen and the college’s commitment to the liberal arts do not necessarily exclude us from consideration for enhanced funding under this policy. The college has had some success in this effort. Evergreen’s initial “high demand” proposal for a Master of Public Administration cohort with an emphasis on Tribal Governance was not selected for funding in 2003. After the college made additional arguments that graduates in this field were in high demand, the program received funding in 2004. In the 2007 legislative session, the college received funding for enrollment growth in the health sciences and to offer a new Master of Education degree with certificates in math/science and in English as a Second Language. Both the M.Ed. program and the expanded offerings in health sciences are consistent with high demand areas identified in state policy and with the college’s own enrollment growth plan. In this policy environment, the college must be politically engaged and respond creatively if Evergreen is to avoid drifting toward more professional and pre-professional training and away from its liberal arts mission.
The Washington legislature mandates that each public four-year baccalaureate college submit a biennial accountability plan to the HECB. Accountability plans describe Evergreen's efforts to make improvements on the state accountability measures during the past biennium, historical trends for these measures, and plans for the current biennium. The accountability measures include a set of indicators defined by the HECB and a set defined by the college. The state-mandated measures include the number of degrees awarded, time to graduation, and retention. Evergreen has also chosen three measures from the National Survey of Student Engagement that reflect key aspects of the college’s mission:
- Percentage of seniors who have done or plan to do community service or volunteer work prior to graduation
- Percentage of seniors reporting that Evergreen contributed “quite a bit” or “very much” to their development in solving complex real world problems
- Percentage of first-year students who report having serious conversations with students of a different race or ethnicity “often” or “very often.”
To date, the college’s funding has not been directly linked to performance on state accountability measures. The legislature has shown interest, however, in exploring the concept of performance contracts that would provide financial incentives for institutions that meet accountability benchmarks. In March 2008, the legislature enacted a new law, significantly changing the process by which the college requests and receives state funding. In fall 2008, the college (and all the state's public baccalaureate institutions) will be required to propose a performance contract, linking biennial funding to measurable outcomes that respond to the state's goals for higher education. The college now has the task of designing a set of performance benchmarks that are meaningful to Evergreen's mission and acceptable to state-level policy makers.
It is too soon to know how this new funding process may affect the college. Even if this growing emphasis on accountability does not directly affect the college's funding, the growing list of accountability reports places an added burden on the limited resources of the college's Institutional Research office. Recognizing this, the college added a position to the office in 2007, but demand for the services of the office continues to grow.
6.A Evergreen's Governing System
The institution's system of governance facilitates the successful accomplishment of its mission and goals.
The system of governance ensures that the authority, responsibilities, and relationships among and between the governing board, administrators, faculty, staff, and students are clearly described in a constitution, charter, bylaws, or equivalent policy document.
A structural view of Evergreen's governing system might locate the board of trustees at the top of the chart, appointed by the governor, confirmed by the state senate, and given broad, statutory power to operate the college. Through a series of documented policies and delegations, discussed below, the board has focused its attention on strategic leadership and policy. The board's policies describe in some detail how the board delegates to the president (and through the president to the faculty and staff of the college) the day-to-day responsibility for operating the college. Immediately below the board of trustees, the organization chart would show the president and senior administration carrying out the administrative work of the college as described in Leadership and Administration below. The responsibility for academic governance, including designing and delivering the curriculum, is located in the structures described in the Faculty Handbook. (See Faculty Handbook, Section 2.200, Academic Organization): the provost, deans, Faculty Agenda Committee and the faculty as a whole. These are described briefly below and at greater length in Standard Four.
This structural view of Evergreen's system of governance tells only part of the story. The college's governance practices are designed to promote collaboration across divisional boundaries, consistent with the values of an interdisciplinary college. The Disappearing Task Force (DTF) is the primary example of such a practice. The DTF, as described above, is used to consider major policy questions, both academic and administrative.
6.A.2 and 6.A.3
6.A.2: The governing board, administrators, faculty, staff, and students understand and fulfill their respective roles as set forth by the governance system's official documents.
6.A.3: The system of governance makes provision for the consideration of faculty, student, and staff views and judgments in those matters in which these constituencies have a direct and reasonable interest.
The process used to update the college's mission and strategic plan, described in Standard 1, illustrates the way that Evergreen's flexible system of governance can provide a structure for trustees, administrators, faculty, staff, students and other stakeholders to work collaboratively on significant governance questions. DTF members typically include administrators, faculty, staff, and students. Table 6.1 shows the breadth of topics considered by DTFs over the past ten years. Major questions of academic policy are considered at a faculty meeting, where the faculty consider the question in a committee of the whole.
Community-Based Learning 1997-99
Human Resources 1999-00
Parking Expansion 1999-00
Apparel Purchasing Practices 2000
General Education 2000-02
Running Start 2000-01
Tuition Waivers 2000-01
Food Services 2001
Prevention of Violence 2001-03
Risk & Liability 2002
Faculty Governance 2002-03
Faculty Reduction-in-Force 2002-03
Enrollment Growth 2005
Campus Life 2005-07
Curriculum Visions 2006-
First-Year Experience 2006-07Exempt Staff 2007-08
In addition to the college's DTFs, a number of broad-based standing committees exist to attend to ongoing planning and coordination. These include the Campus Land Use Committee (), various budget planning groups, the Enrollment Coordinating Committee, the Health and Safety Committee (), IT Collaboration Hives (ITCH) (), Space Management Committee () and the Sustainability Task Force (). In addition, Faculty Hiring Committees represent a major, ongoing governance effort on the part of the faculty. (See also Standard 4.)
Two notable changes in Evergreen's governance system have occurred in the past several years. The unionization of the faculty and the formation of a student government, both discussed below, are likely to contribute to an evolution of Evergreen's governance system in the years ahead.
6.B Governing Board
The governing board is ultimately responsible for the quality and integrity of the institution (or institutions in the case of the multi-unit system). It selects a chief executive officer, considers and approves the mission of the institution, is concerned with the provision of adequate funds, and exercises broad-based oversight to ensure compliance with institutional policies. The board establishes broad institutional policies, and delegates to the chief executive officer the responsibility to implement and administer these policies.
The board includes adequate representation of the public interest and/or the diverse elements of the institution's constituencies and does not include a predominant representation by employees of the institution. The president may be an ex officio member of the board, but not its chair. Policies are in place that provide for continuity and change of board membership.
Evergreen’s eight-member board of trustees is appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state senate. Seven of the board members serve staggered six-year terms. The eighth member, a student, serves a one-year term. The state law establishing the college gives the board broad authority to operate the college.
The board acts only as a committee of the whole. No member or subcommittee of the board acts in place of the board except by formal delegation of authority.
The board's policies state that official inquiries and concerns directed to the board are referred to the chair, who is the spokesperson for the board, for response. The board chair is obligated to inform the other members of the board in a timely manner. Individual board members are required to make clear when they are speaking as individuals and when they are stating board positions. The chair is the official spokesperson of the board.
The state’s Open Public Meetings law governs the operation of the board of trustees. The board conducts official business as a committee of the whole in meetings that are open to the public and publicly announced in advance. Regular meetings of the board include time for the board to hear comments from members of the public, including students, staff and faculty, who may be in attendance. In addition, the board has a long-standing practice, which was formalized as policy in fall 2007, of recognizing community representatives, including a faculty representative, a staff representative and an alumni representative. Following the formation of a student government association, the board also recognized a representative from the student government. These representatives are invited to attend all regular meetings of the board, receive all meeting materials, are seated with the board during meetings, and invited to provide oral or written reports at each meeting.
The duties, responsibilities, ethical conduct requirements, organizational structure, and operating procedures of the board are clearly defined in a published policy document.
In the early 1990s, the board adopted a series of policies to define its role at the college, its relationship with and expectations of the president, and its delegation of authority to the president. The board resolved to “approach its task in a manner which emphasizes strategic leadership more than administrative detail, clear distinction of board and staff roles, future rather than past or present, and proactivity rather than reactivity and will be cognizant of the social contract in its relationships with the campus.” The board acknowledged “its responsibility as being generally confined to establishing broad policies, leaving the implementation and subsidiary policy development to the president” and established general limits to the president’s authority. In addition, the board adopted a resolution on Delegation of Authority to specifically enumerate those functions that the board reserved to itself and to delegate all other functions to the president and, through the president, to the faculty and staff of the college. The revision history of the Delegation of Authority demonstrates that the board has regularly reviewed and updated its policies.
Consistent with established board policy, the board selects, appoints, and regularly evaluates the chief executive officer.
In accordance with board policy, the trustees hire and annually evaluate the performance of the president. The president publishes a self evaluation each spring, and faculty, staff and students are invited to provide comment on the president’s performance either to the president or to the board or both. The board meets in executive session each July to review the president’s self evaluation, any comments received, and discuss the board’s own assessment. After meeting with the president in executive session, the board then provides a brief summary of its evaluation in open public meeting.
6.B.5 through 6.B.9
The board regularly reviews and approves the institution's mission. It approves all major academic, vocational, and technical programs of study, degrees, certificates, and diplomas. It approves major substantive changes in institutional mission, policies, and programs.
The board regularly evaluates its performance and revises, as necessary, its policies to demonstrate to its constituencies that it carries out its responsibilities in an effective and efficient manner.
The board ensures that the institution is organized and staffed to reflect its mission, size, and complexity. It approves an academic and administrative structure or organization to which it delegates the responsibility for effective and efficient management.
The board approves the annual budget and the long-range financial plan, and reviews periodic fiscal audit reports.
The board is knowledgeable of the institution's accreditation status and is involved, as appropriate, in the accrediting process.
The board's regular cycle of meetings includes an annual retreat for self evaluation and goal setting (usually in October of each year), quarterly financial reports and biennial review and approval of budget requests and allocations. Through this process, the board has reviewed and approved a change to the college's mission statement in January 2007 and approved significant program changes, such as the establishment of the Center for Community-Based Learning and Action and the Master of Education program (March 2007). The board has regularly reviewed the college's accreditation status and discussed the accreditation process.
Evergreen’s board of trustees is entering a period of significant transition. The membership of the board has been markedly consistent for much of the past ten years. The average length of service for the seven regular members of the board in 1999 was 2.9 years. That average rose fairly steadily during the period of this self-study, reaching seven years in 2006, the highest in the history of the college. The college has been well-served by a seasoned board well acquainted with the college’s mission and values.
Late in 2006, two trustees left the board, one at the end of her term, the other upon her election to the state senate. In 2007, two more trustees left the board prior to the completion of their terms. Over the next several years, the board and the college should pay close attention to the recruitment and orientation of the next generation of the board of trustees.
Leadership and Management
The chief executive officer provides leadership through the definition of institutional goals, establishment of priorities, and the development of plans. The administration and staff are organized to support the teaching and learning environment which results in the achievement of the institution's mission and goals.
The chief executive officer's full-time responsibility is to the institution.
The president is the chief executive officer of the college, with full-time responsibility to the institution.
The duties, responsibilities, and ethical conduct requirements of the institution's administrators are clearly defined and published. Administrators act in a manner consistent with them.
The administrative leadership of the college is organized into four divisions: Academics, Finance and Administration, Student Affairs and College Advancement. (See the Organizational Chart.)
Administrators are qualified to provide effective educational leadership and management. The chief executive officer is responsible for implementing appropriate procedures to evaluate administrators regularly.
The curricula vitae of the president and vice presidents demonstrate the qualifications of the college administration to lead and manage the institution. By college policy, exempt professional staff are evaluated annually. Vacancies in professional staff positions are filled through open competitive searches, according to college policy. Permission to permanently fill a professional staff vacancy without an open competitive search may be granted by a committee made up of the president, vice presidents, the associate vice president for Human Resources, and the college's affirmative action officer.
Institutional advancement activities (which may include development and fundraising, institutional relations, alumni and parent programs) are clearly and directly related to the mission and goals of the institution.
The college's institutional advancement activities are closely linked to the the goals of the college. Fundraising activities are carried out by The Evergreen State College Foundation, a private non-profit established by the college's board of trustees. The foundation's staff are employees of the college, devoting time and effort to foundation activities under an agreement between the college and foundation. (Upload document.) This agreement is regularly reviewed, updated and renewed by the college's board of trustees. The foundation-college staff working on institutional advancement participate in the college's goal-setting activities. The vice president for College Advancement, who also serves as executive director of the foundation, is a member of the college's senior staff and was a member of the steering committee which developed the college's current strategic plan.
Administrators ensure that the institutional decision-making process is timely.
The college’s senior staff group, made up of the president, vice presidents, an academic dean, associate vice president of Enrollment Management, associate vice president of Human Resources, executive director of Operational Planning and Budget, director of Government Relations, and executive assistant to the president, meets weekly, providing a venue for timely decision-making. (See minutes at Exhibit 6.X).
Administrators facilitate cooperative working relationships, promote coordination within and among organizational units, and encourage open communication and goal attainment.
The weekly senior staff meeting is one of many cross-divisional groups that promote communication and coordination among the college's administrative divisions. In addition, the college has a long tradition of relying on annual retreats to promote college-wide communication and cooperation in goal-setting and goal-attainment. These include an annual retreat for the president and vice presidents, a retreat of the senior staff, the academic deans' retreat, an occasional management retreat, as well as many other retreats and meetings within administrative units.
Administrators responsible for institutional research ensure that the results are widely distributed to inform planning and subsequent decisions that contribute to the improvement of the teaching-learning process.
The college's Office of Institutional Research conducts research and assessment for Evergreen. The office's activities include recurring surveys and assessment as well as special, one-time projects. The office uses nationally recognized measures (e.g., the National Survey of Student Engagement) and locally-developed tools crafted to meet the needs of Evergreen's unique curriculum (e.g., the End of Program Review). Institutional research reports are posted on a regularly updated website accessible both on- and off-campus. The office's staff regularly conduct and participate in workshops and institutes for faculty, and the office's location as part of the provost's staff helps to ensure that the college's research activities are aimed at improving the teaching and learning process at Evergreen.
Policies, procedures, and criteria for administrative and staff appointment, evaluation, retention, promotion, and/or termination are published, accessible, and periodically reviewed.
Many employment polices for classified staff are subject to collective bargaining and found in the Union Contract. Other employment policies, including those for exempt professional staff are documented on the college web site (Employment Policies). Human Resource operations were extensively reviewed by the Human Resources Disappearing Task Force in 2000, and have been occasionally updated since that time as needed in order to stay current or reflect changes in employment law or collective bargaining agreements.
Administrators' and staff salaries and benefits are adequate to attract and retain competent personnel consistent with the mission and goals of the institution.
There has been some turnover among senior leadership during the review period. As of this writing (spring 2008), the president has served in his current position for seven years, the provost for three years, the vice president for Student Affairs for fifteen years, the vice president for Finance and Administration two years, and the vice president for College Advancement for one year. The tenure of these senior administrators is actually longer than these terms of service would seem to indicate. The president previously served terms as vice president for College Advancement, interim president, and executive vice president. The provost joined the faculty in 1989 and previously served as academic dean. The vice president for College Advancement previously served as executive associate to the president from 1991-2006. In Evergreen's comparatively flat and decentralized administrative structure, this kind of longevity has represented an important source of stability at Evergreen. As many members of the senior staff approach retirement age, the college will need to pay close attention to transitions in this area.
Turnover among faculty and staff more generally has been an area of attention for Evergreen. In each of the past four years, Evergreen's Department of Human Resource Services has prepared a summary of staff turnover for the board of trustees. During that period, annual staff turnover has ranged between 9 percent and 11 percent. Although this level of staff turnover is normal and manageable, we expect an increasing number of retirements to affect staff turnover in future years. In the three year period ending in 2006, seventeen members of the staff retired. If retirement-eligible employees leave at the same rate, we may see as many as eighty-eight employees retire by 2010.
"Leaving for better opportunity" is the reason that staff most commonly cite for separating from the college. (Thirty-five percent cited this reason in 2006.) The level of staff salaries likely contributes to these departures. The college's efforts to improve staff salaries were significantly delayed by a general downturn in state revenues following 2001. For three consecutive years, the college received no funding for cost-of-living increases, and a period of budget retrenchment limited the college's ability to self-fund increases. Conditions began to improve in 2005, when the state resumed funding for cost-of-living increases. Salary increases were funded as follows:
Fiscal Year 2006 3.2 percent
Fiscal Year 2007 1.6 percent
Fiscal Year 2008 3.2 percent
Fiscal Year 2009 2.0 percent
These general increases tell only part of the story for classified staff compensation. In 2005, state law changed to allow collective bargaining for wages and benefits. Since the change in the law, Evergreen and its classified staff union have bargained through a process managed by the governor's Office of Labor Relations as part of a coalition involving many of the state's two-year colleges. In addition to the general cost-of-living increases noted above, this process yielded additional salary enhancements for classified staff based on market surveys for selected job classifications (e.g., the information technology classifications). An additional pay step was also added to the classified salary grid, further raising the maximum salaries for the most senior classified employees. These changes have a cumulative effect for many employees. The average increase in our classified employee salary base was over 7.2 percent in the current biennium.
For exempt staff, the cost-of-living increases described above have not been adequate to make up for past salary stagnation. Following the implementation of wage increases for classified staff salaries, more than 21 percent of our exempt managers and supervisors experienced salary compression (in which they earned less than 10 percent more than staff members they supervised) or salary inversion (in which they earned less than those they supervised.) The college is seeking specific legislative support to address these issues.
In 2006, the vice presidents jointly charged an Exempt Staff DTF. Among the DTF's tasks was making recommendations for exempt compensation policy that could be used to systematically evaluate exempt staff salaries on an ongoing basis. The DTF made its recommendations in spring 2007. Work on the compensation system that follows from the DTF's recommendations is ongoing. Human resources professional staff have collected market survey data from a variety of relevant sources: the College and University Personnel Association, the Economic Research Institute, the Millman survey, and the Washington Employment Service. From among these sources, appropriate benchmarks will be selected for each position. As of this writing (Spring 2008), 45 of the 181 exempt staff positions have been benchmarked. A very preliminary estimate suggests that an annual investment of approximately $620,000 may be required to bring all the exempt positions up to the 50th percentile. An additional $250,000 might be required to address salary compression and inversion issues that emerge when classified staff salaries increase more rapidly than the salaries of exempt staff supervisors. Given the scale of this investment and other competing demands on the college's strategic reserves (discussed above), the college will need to pursue a strategy over more than a single funding biennium to achieve its goals for exempt staff compensation.
Evergreen has significantly improved and expanded the its staff development efforts over the past four years. The Human Resource Services office offers between 18 and 24 staff development courses each year, serving approximately 200 members of the staff. In addition, human resources assists local departments in setting up two or three departmental staff development workshops for various departments each year. Online training is also available for staff.
Faculty Role in Governance
The role of faculty in institutional governance, planning, budgeting and policy development is made clear and public; faculty are supported in that role. (See Standard Four – Faculty).
Faculty governance at Evergreen includes planning and coordinating the curriculum and educational offerings of the college as well as providing advice and recommendations to administrators. The faculty’s role in governance is described in the Faculty Handbook. (See Faculty Handbook, Section 2.200-2.400) The faculty meeting, in which the faculty function as a committee of the whole, is the designated forum for hearing reports, ratifying or rejecting major policy proposals, or remanding proposals for further discussion. The Faculty Agenda Committee, elected from the faculty at large, is responsible for deciding what forum is best for discussing major policy questions, setting the agenda for faculty meetings, and consulting with the provost and deans on the charge and membership of DTFs.
This system of governance is undergoing significant transition. This transition reflects the changing conditions noted at the beginning of this Standard: growth, workload, turnover and complexity. In fall 2002, a DTF was charged to study faculty governance. It published a final report two years later, generally affirming Evergreen’s system of faculty governance, while recommending changes to improve attendance at faculty meetings and noting that multiple understandings of shared governance existed on campus, ranging from consultative or distributive governance to collaborative/participatory governance. For the past two years, the Faculty Agenda Committee has returned to the practice of organizing faculty meetings so that major governance questions are discussed in Deans Groups. The Deans Groups, which mix faculty from various planning units, allow for more broad-based, interdisciplinary discussions in groups that are smaller than the full faculty meeting.
On October 31, 2006, the faculty voted to unionize, establishing the United Faculty of Evergreen as their representation for collective bargaining. As of this writing (Spring 2008), negotiations toward a first collective bargaining agreement between the college and the union are underway. A significant revision of the Faculty Handbook is likely to be required at the conclusion of negotiations to ensure that the policies in the Handbook comply with the new agreement. It remains to be seen how this change will affect governance at Evergreen. Clearly, the college should pay careful attention to ensure that a system of shared governance supporting the college’s mission and values is in place at the end of this transition.
Student Role in Governance
The role of students in institutional governance, planning, budgeting, and policy development is made clear and public; students are supported in fulfilling that role. (See Standard Three –Students).
Historically, students at Evergreen have participated in governance primarily through their appointment to DTFs and other committees. The Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs has maintained a list of governance opportunities for students and promoted the list to students each fall.
The student role in governance at Evergreen is now in a period of significant transition. In spring 2006, Evergreen students voted to form a student government association, the Geoduck Student Union (GSU). The board of trustees recognized the GSU on May 10, 2006. An election was held to appoint 21 student representatives. The creation of Evergreen's first recognized and functioning student government, after several failed attempts in years past, represents a major milestone in the history of the college.
During the 2006-07 academic year, the GSU developed a mission statement, bylaws and adopted formal election procedures. In its first year, the Union decided to focus on “establishing a relationship with the board of trustees, working with the Washington Student Lobby (WSL), creating late-night transportation for students, improving Aramark’s food service policy, promoting student involvement in the CAB Redesign, overseeing the college’s finances, working against oppression, improving technology, and supporting the appointment of contingent faculty to term positions.” (See the Geoduck Student Union's End of Year Report for 2007. June 9, 2007)
Now in its second year, the GSU continues to develop. The union’s primary goals for the 2007-08 academic year included: working to reach a compromise to a proposed campus-wide smoking ban and to advocate for more comprehensive smoking cessation and counseling programs; working with students to develop recommendations for the college's 2009-11 biennial budget proposal; continuing to recruit students for committees and task forces in addition to other student activities; creating a comprehensive student body survey for the GSU, faculty, and administration to consider when setting college priorities; and revamping the student elections process.
The GSU reports that the group's ultimate goal is to nurture an active and engaged student body that will have direct contact with administrators as well as influence on administrative proceedings and decisions. They envision an empowered student body as not only being responsive but also proactive in all aspects of the college.
During this period of transition in college governance, the administration should continue to give attention to nurturing the new student union. This will require engaging the GSU in college governance while providing room for the student government to develop its own governance agenda.
Standard Six Findings and Conclusions
Findings and Conclusion:
Governance at Evergreen is in transition, from a primarily internally-focused process model arising out of an understanding of Evergreen as a face-to-face community, to some as yet undefined model. From the beginning, the college viewed standing committees with suspicion. Instead, Evergreen preferred decentralized, ad hoc responses to specific issues. In place of standing committees, Evergreen has relied on the Disappearing Task Force. Instead of a faculty senate, Evergreen has had the faculty meeting. These preferences reflect the college's values, which prize an egalitarian, inclusive, community-based approach to organizing the college and responding to issues as they arise. While occasionally messy, this approach to governance has often been successful in locating community consensus. Whatever governance structures come out of this transition will need to respond to changes in scale, the emergence of new forms of representation from the Geoduck Student Union (GSU) and the collective bargaining agreement being negotiated with United Faculty of Evergreen, and the external pressure to respond to policy initiatives from the legislature, the HECB, and the governor with internally accountable and timely decisions.
1.) The board has had a clear and consistent sense of its work in providing overall guidance for the college and has worked effectively with the president. 2.) The development of the GSU after thirty years with only piecemeal student representation is a major step forward for student voice and involvement at Evergreen. 3.) The college has mounted three major planning efforts that have moved forward effectively with broad consultation in recent years: the Strategic Plan Update 2007, the Campus Land Use Plan, and the Strategic Enrollment Growth Plan. With these documents in place, the college is in a good position to define its role and desires to the state.
1.) Evergreen needs to reexamine its governance processes with an eye to maintaining a governance process that fosters community and participation, while at the same time allowing the college to respond effectively to questions raised by scale, accountability, and timeliness. 2.) Evergreen needs to work with the United Faculty of Evergreen, the agenda committee, the faculty meeting, and the GSU to continue to find effective ways to incorporate student and faculty voices into college decisions.
Plans: 1.) The college needs to revisit the Student Conduct Code and possibly the Social Contract as a part of its review of governance at the college. 2.) The college is currently reorganizing and updating its governance procedures and policies in preparation for possible college wide work on governance.