Standard 6

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Governance and Administration at Evergreen

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.[1] 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 tradition 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, continually changing, and often challenging. 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, we conclude that 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, but we can certainly recall key instances when Evergreen’s values informed governance in critical ways.

The "re-founding" of the college discussed in Standard 1 is clearly evident in college governance. Evergreen’s system of governance is undergoing some significant transitions. The college will need to pay close attention to this area in the years ahead to insure that the system that develops is in keeping with the college’s mission and core values.

External Environment

One of the roles of administration at Evergreen (or any higher education institution) is to serve 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 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 (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.

Tuition Policy

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.[2] 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 a Master of Public Administration cohort with an emphasis on Tribal Administration 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 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 high demand areas identified in state policy and with the college’s own 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.

Evergreen's Governing System

%(6.A.1). If we take a structural view of Evergreen's governing system, we 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 (Link to RCW 28B.40.120). 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. (Link to Board Policy Page.) Immediately below the Board of Trustees, we would find the President and Senior Adminstration carrying out the administrative work of the college as described in Leadership and Administration below. We would locate the responsiblity for academic governance, including designing and delivering the curriculum, in the structures described in the Faculty Handbook (Link to Faculty Handbook, 2.200): the Provost, Deans, Agenda Committee and the Faculty as a whole. These are desribed briefly below and at greater length in Standard 4.

This structural view of Evergreen's system of governance fails to capture the extent to which this system seeks to promote collaboration across departmental and divisional boundaries. Major question of academic policy to be considered at a faculty meeting, where the faculty consider the question in a committee of the whole. Preparation for such discussions and other major policy changes are typically made by a Disappearing Task Force (DTF), a short-term ad hoc committee, consultative and collaborative in nature and having a diverse, broadly based membership. The process used to update the college's mission and strategic plan, described in Standard 1 (Link to 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. %(6.A.2) %(6.A.3) 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.

Table 6.1: Disappearing Task Forces Charged: 1998-2007

Community-Based Learning 1997-1999

Human Resources 1999-2000

Parking Expansion 1999-2000

Apparel Purchasing Practices 2000

General Education 2000

Running Start 2000-2001

Tuition Waivers 2000-2001

Food Services 2001

Prevention of Violence 2001-2003

Risk & Liability 2002

Faculty Governance 2002-2003

Faculty Reduction-in-Force 2002-2003

Enrollment Growth 2005

Campus Life Need dates

Curriculum Visions 2006-

Diversity 2006-2007

First-Year Experience 2006-2007

Exempt Staff 2007-

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.

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 the "re-founding" of Evergreen's governance system in the years ahead.

Governing Board

%(6.B.1) 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. (Link to Board Policy #4)

%(6.B.3) 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. (Link to Board Policy Page). 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.” (Link to Board Policy #4) The Board acknowledged “its responsibility as being generally confined to establishing broad policies, leaving the implementation and subsidiary policy development to the President” (Link to Board Policy #6) and established general limits to the President’s authority. (Link to Board Policy #2). 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.  %(6.B.6) The revision history of the Delegation of Authority demonstrates that the Board has regularly reviewed and updated its policies. (Link to Board Resolution 2007-04)

%(6.B.2) The Board's policies (Link to Board Policy #4) 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.

%(6.B.4) 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.2) The state’s Open Public Meetings law (Link to RCW 42.30) 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 in the Fall of 2007 as Board Policy #14, 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 Board's regular cycle of meetings includes an annual retreat for self-evaluation and goal setting (usually in October of each year) %(6.B.6), quarterly financial reports and biennial review and approval of budget requests and allocations %(6.B.8). 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 (date) and the planned Masters of Education program (March 2007). %(6.B.7) The board has regularly reviewed the college's accreditation status and discussed the accreditation process (dates).  %(6.B.9)

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, 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 President is the chief executive office of the college, with full-time responsibility to the institution %(6.C.1). The administrative leadership of the college is organized into four divisions: Academics, Finance and Administration, Student Affairs and College Advancement. (See Exhibit 6.X, Organizational Chart and Exhibits 6.X for the curriculum vitae of the President and Vice Presidents.%(6.C.2)) 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. (See minutes at Exhibit 6.X). There has been some turnover in this group during the review period. As of this writing (September 2007), the president has served in his current position for 7 years, the Provost for three years, the Vice President for Student Affairs for 15 years, the Vice President for Finance and Administration for 2 years, and the Vice President for College Advancement for one year.

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% and 11%. 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, 17 members of the staff retired. If retirement-eligible employees leave at the same rate, we may see as many as 88 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.  %(6.C.9) The college's efforts to improve staff salaries were significantly delayed by a general downturn in state revenues following 2001. For four 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%

Fiscal Year 2007 1.6%

Fiscal Year 2008 3.2%

Fiscal Year 2009 2.0%

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. In addition to the general cost-of-living increases noted above, the collective bargaining process for classified staff yielded additional salary enhancements 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% 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% of our exempt managers and supervisors experienced salary compression (in which they earned less than 10% 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 President for Finance and Administration 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 the Spring of 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. At this point, preliminary benchmarks have been identified for 108 of the 176 exempt staff positions. Using a preliminary goal of the 50th percentile of market, we find that 59 of the 108 positions assessed so far fall below the goal, and 12 are less than 75% of the goal. To bring these 108 positions up to the 50th percentile would require an annual investment of $400,000. A very rough estimate suggests that an additional $250,000 would required annually to bring to the 50th percentile the positions that remain to be benchmarked. Given the scale of this investment, the college will need to pursue a strategy over more than a single funding biennium to achieve its goals for exempt staff compensation.

Staff Development

Faculty Role in Governance

%(6.D) The faculty’s role in governance is described in the Faculty Handbook. (Link to Exhibit 6.X Faculty Handook, 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 the Fall of 2002, a DTF was charged to study faculty governance. It published a final report two years later. In general, the DTF affirmed Evergreen’s system of faculty governance. The proposed changes intended to improve attendance at faculty meetings, where it found an average attendance of 70 faculty out of more than 200 eligible to participate. The DTF found strong faculty participation in college governance, but noted uneven satisfaction with governance activities. Faculty reported high satisfaction with governance activities closely related to the delivery of the curriculum. They reported less satisfaction with other governance activities, and a distrust of administrative decision-making: “We don’t feel administration is practicing shared governance using the same definition as the faculty. Administrators may be practicing consultative or distributive governance, while faculty members are expecting collaborative/ participatory governance.” (Link to Faculty Governance DTF Final Report, October 2004)

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 (September 2007), negotiations toward a first collective bargaining agreement between the college and the union have not begun. 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

%(6.E) Traditionally, 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 the Spring of 2006, Evergreen students voted to form a student government association, the Geoduck Union. The Board of Trustees recognized the Geoduck Union on May 10, 2006. An election was held to appoint 21 student representatives. The during the 2006-07 academic year, the Geoduck Union 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.” (Link to Geoduck Student Union. End of Year Report. June 9, 2007)


Standard 6.A - Governance System

Standard 6.B - Governing Board

Standard 6.C - Leadership and Management

Standard 6.D - Faculty Role in Governance

Standard 6.E - Student Role in Governance

Supporting Documentation

See Supporting Documentation for Standard Six
  1. Faculty Handbook, Section 2.200.
  2. Board Policy #6 – Tuition Policy Statement