Letter to the editor: Shared governance will assist UB in leading the way in higher education

At UB President Satish Tripathi’s 2016 State of the University Address he stated, “UB will lead the way!” in discussions about higher education. President Tripathi expressed his commitment to creating a campus “where all feel safe, respected and valued.” As leaders of the Faculty Senate, Professional Staff Senate, COAL (Council of Advocacy & Leadership) and student representative to the UB Council, we enthusiastically endorse these statements.

We suggest that to meet these audacious goals, shared governance be inculcated into every aspect of UB’s governance structure. Shared governance is the name commonly given to the collaborative processes by which the students, faculty, staff, and administration express and exercise their governance authority and responsibilities in support of the institution’s mission. It is a distribution of authority based upon the law and its mandates. In essence, it boils down to effective, constructive, and timely engagement by the administration and trustees with the students, faculty and staff.

Shared governance is students, faculty, and staff engaging in their institution and having a say and a vote in the big decisions it makes. We need to be proactive, not reactive on important issues. We all need to be at the table.

Since assuming office in the summer 2015, the Chairs of the UB Faculty Senate and UB Professional Staff Senate have been trying to instill the spirit and process of Shared Governance into every aspect of University at Buffalo governance, from gaining additional representation on the UB Council and UB Foundation and adding student and professional staff representatives to the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, to proclaiming the 1st Tuesday of every March “Day of Shared Governance.” March 7, 2017 is the next annual Day of Shared Governance.

Chair of the SUNY Board of Trustees, H. Carl McCall, has said, “SUNY is committed to Academic Excellence and public good through models of Shared Governance.”

He goes on to say, “Shared Governance is critical to the effectiveness of systems of higher education, like SUNY, ensuring that all of our stakeholders–from students and faculty to community representatives and elected officials–have a voice at the leadership table and are committed to working together.”

Additionally, at several recent 2016 SUNY Senate Plenary meetings, SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher has implored, "Shared Governance, we have to get this right!"

We enthusiastically embrace President Tripathi’s goal for UB to lead the way in higher education. We think that shared governance will help provide the model to accomplish this.

Philip L. Glick

Chair, Faculty Senate

Domenic J. Licata

Chair, Professional Staff Senate

James A. Corra

Student Representative, UB Council