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Announcement: Updating Doane's shared governance

Announcement: Updating Doane's shared governance

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For many outside the roles of faculty and administration, the words “shared governance” might be new and unknown. As a concept, it’s not complicated — it’s the joint responsibility of administration, governing boards and faculty to make decisions at colleges and universities. In practice, though, creating a system that works with the needs of an individual institution often requires some self-analysis and fine tuning.

But when it does work, shared governance works well. For one, it helps universities be more inclusive. With a common goal and mission, it can make well-informed decisions quickly. And it ensures that stakeholders throughout a university are represented in the decision-making process.

It is for these reasons that Doane University’s Board of Trustees, faculty council and administration announce a collaborative effort toward improving Doane’s shared governance structure. 

“This is exactly what great organizations do. They make an introspective examination, find what needs improving, and then work with all constituents to fix what needs fixing,” said Dr. Roger Hughes, Doane University president. “I am looking forward to partnering with the faculty council and the Board of Trustees to improve our shared governance policies and procedures.” 

The board commissioned a team of four academic consultants to assess Doane’s shared governance over the course of the 2020-21 academic year, and then to make recommendations on how policies, practices and processes might be improved going forward. From this assessment, the consultants created a thorough and candid report with tangible recommendations for improvement. 

The report was shared first with the board’s academic affairs committee, then the executive committee. The executive committee then unanimously approved distributing the report to all members of the Board of Trustees, and the university’s leadership team, deans and faculty council. 

"The faculty council is appreciative of the feedback offered by the shared governance report. We look forward to engaging with the Board of Trustees, administration, faculty and staff to build community with one another and facilitate an environment of excellence for our students," said Danelle DeBoer, faculty council vice chair. 

The report concluded the administration, faculty and board need a better understanding of traditional and typical principles and practices of shared governance. The consultants cited several examples where basic tenets of shared governance were not followed, and provided recommendations and strategies to develop and implement shared governance protocols and best practices by all parties. That said, the consultants also relayed optimism about Doane’s future with new leadership coming on board. They stressed the importance of acknowledging mistakes while focusing efforts and energies on correcting those mistakes and reshaping the university’s future.

“Change is needed, and we look forward to working together with the new president, leadership team, faculty and staff to create a model shared governance system that ensures Doane is an outstanding place to work and to learn,” said Dr. Toni Ganzel, academic affairs committee chairman.  

Many of the report’s recommendations are already being implemented. One first step is the creation of a broad and inclusive shared governance steering committee to include the president, deans, faculty, staff and board members. The list of steering committee members is included below.

"The consultants’ report provides a helpful framework for the faculty to identify challenges, to build upon our institutional strengths, and to move ahead with the board, administration and staff in a manner that will make Doane a stronger institution. I look forward to working with the steering committee and the broader university on this new chapter for Doane,” said Dr. Brian Pauwels, faculty council chairman.  

The steering committee is charged by the board to develop a plan that outlines specific recommendations to be implemented and a timeline for completion.  

“This steering committee includes members that represent all of the stakeholders of our university. Each member has the expertise and good judgement to develop a shared governance system that will result in all of us working together to make Doane a better and stronger university,” said Paul Schelstraete, Board of Trustees chairman.

Other recommendations from the report include the formation of a staff assembly and staff council, which was announced during an all-employee meeting on Aug. 27. This will ensure staff have representation and a voice in the governance process. Another example is an open invitation from the faculty council to the chief academic officer and administration to have a presence at council meetings. Additionally, numerous listening and learning sessions have been held by the administration to open up lines of communication, with future sessions scheduled. 

Members of the Presidential Steering Committee for Governance include:

Roger Hughes, university president

Lorie Cook-Benjamin, chief academic officer

Tim Frey, dean of the College of Education

Brian Pauwels, faculty member and faculty council chair

Amanda Irions, faculty member and undergraduate academic affairs committee chair

Chris Brady, Doane-Omaha director 

Denise Ellis, registrar

Toni Ganzel, board member and academic affairs committee chair

Susan Fritz, board member-at-large

(Bill Pallett will serve as an alternate board member in the absence of either Toni Ganzel or Susan Fritz.)