Governance and Administration
Evergreen’s systems of governance are founded on values appropriate for an interdisciplinary public college. Governance at Evergreen seeks to promote collaboration across departmental and divisional boundaries. For example, the traditional practice at Evergreen is to avoid standing committees, instead relying on the Disappearing Task Force (DTF), a short-term ad hoc committee, consultative and collaborative in nature and having a diverse, broadly based membership. The State of Washington’s mechanisms for system-level governance are comparatively decentralized. The Higher Education Coordinating (HEC) Board 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 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.
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 stands in opposition to the stated policy of the Board, which 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, Board has consistently elected to raise tuition for resident undergraduates by the maximum amount allowed by the legislature.
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.” (Link to 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 HEC Board 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 funding a Master of Public Administration cohort with an emphasis on Tribal Administration was not selected for funding in 2003. After additional making additional arguments, the program received “high demand” funding in 2004. In the 2007 legislative session, high demand funding for enrollment growth in the health science 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 consistent with the college’s enrollment growth plan.
The Washington legislature mandates that each public four-year baccalaureate college submit a biennial accountability plan to the HEC Board. 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 HEC Board and a set defined by the college. Evergreen has 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. At this writing, other intuitions in the state system are preparing proposals for pilot performance contracts. In the event that state policy continues in this direction, we may find that future funding depends on the college’s ability to design a set of performance benchmarks that are meaningful to Evergreen and acceptable to state-level policy makers.
Supporting DocumentationSee Supporting Documentation for Standard Six
- Faculty Handbook, Section 2.200.
- Board Policy #6 – Tuition Policy Statement