From category archives: In Trust Blog

Shared governance

   
                

Visualizing governance systems

           
         

The dashboard of a car can tell you a lot — fuel level, speed, air temperature, tire pressure. The one thing it can’t tell you is where you’re going. For that we need another metaphor. Randall Basinger at Messiah College has just the thing: GPS, or governance positioning system.

   

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Nontraditional presidents must exercise “enterprise leadership”

           
         

 

In Trust recently published an article titled “Promising Professor vs. Prominent Pastor,” which pointed out that most theological schools hire CEOs who have moved up through the faculty ranks, while a third hire CEOs from leadership positions in their denomination or from the business world.

   

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Tending shared governance

           
         

“Effective shared governance is hard work.” That’s how a new article focusing on shared governance in this month’s Trusteeship magazine begins. This is no surprise to anyone familiar with the practice of shared governance, but it’s certainly nice to read the words and appreciate that others struggle with the practice too.

   

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Why do university presidents lose their jobs?

           
         

In a recent article in Inside Higher Ed, William G. Tierney, professor at the University of Southern California, posits the question of why university presidents resign or are fired. Using examples of recent high-profile presidential resignations, Tierney argues that commonly blamed factors are not the true cause of presidential downfalls. 

   

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Undermining your president

           
         

In the final scene of Pixar’s The Incredibles (2004), a drilling machine bursts through the street and a mole-like man steps forward to address the screaming masses: “Behold, the Underminer! I'm always beneath you, but nothing is beneath me! I hereby declare war on peace and happiness! Soon, all will tremble before me!"

 

   

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Strategic planning = spiritual discernment

           
         

Leaders of theological schools routinely navigate the nuances of Torah law; Trinitarian controversies; the oeuvre of Rahner, Barth, and Marion; not to mention the subtleties of shared governance. Yet we can still be intimidated by the occult mysteries of strategic planning — not just planning, mind you, but strategic planning.

   

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For resources on shared governance, contact the In Trust Center

           
         



The Resource Consulting team at the In Trust Center often receives questions about shared governance and points theological school leaders to the most pertinent resources from both inside and outside the field of theological education.

   

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How can you foster board engagement?

           
         



“No school can afford a board that is unaccountable, uncreative, and uncooperative.” This was the driving idea behind Eugene F. Roop’s article “Board governance can be accountable, creative, and cooperative: three ways of understanding the board’s work,” published in a 2011 issue of In Trust.

   

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The standard in academic governance

           
         



“Shared governance is a long-time feature of American higher education, yet it remains a frequently misunderstood and often maligned aspect of academic life,” states Rebekah Basinger in a 2010 In Trust article. In her article, Basinger acknowledges that board members, administrators, and faculty of theological schools often express doubt or confusion about shared governance and the way it works. However, if done properly, shared governance allows theological institutions to further their missions and “advance God’s purposes for the church.” 

   

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The role of faculty in shared governance

           
         




Sarah Drummond Israel Galindo Joretta Marshall Rebecca Slough
No one disputes the central role of faculty in the classroom. But what role do faculty members have in the boardroom? In Trust wanted to know, so we asked Nadine Pence, executive director of the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, to recommend a few conversation partners. Pence suggested four respected academic leaders, each representing a different seminary, and In Trust invited them to discuss how shared governance plays out on their campuses. 

   

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A guide to board portals

           
         



 

Conducting board business requires organization and collaboration. Board members receive a vast amount of information in anticipation of board meetings, and often they have to take care of additional business between meetings. Some boards are turning to digital options for organizing, collaborating, and disseminating information.

Boards may need tools for assisting in this move to digital business. 

   

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The priority of governance in really tough times

           
         


 

The In Trust Center recently presented a webinar on governance strategies for difficult times.

Barbara Wheeler and Daniel Aleshire shared some best practices and areas of improvement that can lead to institutional stability: setting terms and term limits for board members, evaluating and orienting boards, selecting board members with the appropriate skill sets, and attracting new members of different cultures and ages. Wheeler stressed the importance of engaged governance, balancing support of the president with prioritizing the institutional mission.



 

   

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Special issue: The role of faculty in governance

           
         

Shared governance is one of the most popular topics that In Trust covers. We’ve addressed it not only in the magazine, but also at In Trust Blog and in webinars. Our Resource Consultants field cases on this topic monthly. But the role of faculty in shared governance remains mysterious to many.

   

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Board communication and collaboration: What are the options?

           
         


The practice of sharing materials among the players in shared governance -- that is, members of the board, the administration, and the faculty -- can be challenging. Because the materials cover complex, often confidential issues, the mechanism for sharing must be secure. It also must be straightforward, easy to use, and not too time consuming.

Board portal software can be a great solution to these challenges, but the cost is often prohibitively expensive, especially for small institutions such as theological schools. 

   

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Have you read the Spring issue of In Trust magazine?

           
         




In Trust
's Spring 2015 issue hit mailboxes last week. Here are some highlights from our latest issue: 

  • "Two patterns of good governance." Part 2 of our excerpt from the latest report on seminary governance from researcher Barbara Wheeler.

   

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Advice for presidents about boards

           
         



In January, the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) gathered theological school presidents for their annual Presidential Leadership Intensive, a conference devoted to teaching the fine art of leading a seminary.

G. Douglass Lewis was one of the presenters, and he focused on “Ten things the seminary president can do to build a more effective board.”

   

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Shared governance: Resources for your board

           
         



Shared governance is one of the most challenging issues at many seminaries and theological colleges. And it works differently at freestanding seminaries and embedded divinity schools. If shared governance continues to be a challenge at your school, you may want to consider some of these resources.

   

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In Trust magazine -- New Year 2015 issue

           
         


In Trust's New Year 2015 issue was sent to subscribers last week. If you haven’t already received it, it should be arriving soon.

Meanwhile, here are some highlights:

   

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Shared governance is flawed but fixable

           
         



Few people appear happy with the state of shared governance at American colleges and universities.”

That’s how Brian Rosenberg, president of Macalester College, begins a thoughtful essay on how to reform shared governance in higher education.

   

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Everything you need to know about shared governance

           
         



Several years ago, the Chronicle of Higher Education ran an article on shared governance. The writer worried that few people in education seem to understand what the phrase means. . . . This piece made me wonder, Can that be true of readers of In Trust? We talk a lot about shared governance. (I mean, a lot.) Could it be that some of our readers—seminary presidents...

   

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Shared governance for tough times

           
         

Eureka!These are tough days for leaders in higher education and especially so for those at the helm of a theological school. Everywhere I go, boards and presidents are on the hunt for the big idea — the game changer — the Eureka moment that will save the day. I find little patience for or interest in collaboration, conversation, or shared governance.

   

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Summer 2013 reading list

           
         



Rebekah Burch Basinger's article in the Summer 2013 issue of In Trust
, "Teach the Governance You Want: Orienting New Board Members About the 'Governance Triad,'" contained references to resources and a section called "To learn more." Click Read More to see the links.

   

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What is shared governance?

           
         

Shared governance is a slippery concept in all of higher education, and it's the source of much misunderstanding, according to an article title "Exactly What Is 'Shared Governance'?" in a recent Chronicle of Higher Education. Faculty are often confused about shared governance. Some think it means that the faculty govern through their academic senate or other legislative body, while administrators do the managerial work that faculty find too onerous. Many have little sense of the "sharing" part of shared governance. The article's author, Gary A. Olson, sets the record straight: The truth is that all legal authority in any university originates from one place and one place only: its governing board. . . . Typically, the board then formally delegates authority over the day-to-day operation of the institution (often in an official "memorandum of delegation") to the president, who, in turn, may delegate authority over certain parts of university management to other university officials -- for example, grantin ...

   

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Best practices for "shared governance"

           
         

Most theological schools, like other institutions of higher education, operate under the principles of "shared governance." That means that various groups -- like the board, the president, the faculty, the church body, and sometimes others -- share the legitimate authority over the school.  Negotiating the complexities of shared governance is sometimes a problem in the setting of theological education. So In Trust's program developer, Rebekah Burch Basinger, has assembled a few articles that can help illuminate shared governance. Click on the titles to read the full text. "Faculty Professionalism: Failures of Socialization and the Road to Loss of Professional Autonomy." By Neil Hamilton. Appeared in the Fall 2006 issue of Liberal Education. An excerpt: As the American tradition of academic freedom evolved over the course of the past century, boards have acknowledged the importance of freedom of inquiry and speech to the university's unique mission of creating and disseminating knowledge. Accordingly, ...

   

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Best practices for "shared governance"

           
         

Every institution has some kind of governance -- perhaps an all-powerful founder who makes all decisions, or a board of directors, a bishop, or an executive council.  But theological schools, like other institutions of higher education, have "shared governance." That means that various groups share the legitimate authority over the school. In most schools, there are three or four groups sharing authority: Board. The board of directors or trustees hires and fires the president, sets long-term goals, approves and oversees the budget, and monitors strategic indicators. President's office. The president's office includes not just the single person of the president, but also the "cabinet" or chief administrative officers. Faculty acting as a group. The faculty generally have an official responsibility for curricular decisions. They work with the president's office and the board on major decisions like creating new academic programs. Individual professors are generally not part of the "shared ...

   

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