Shared Governance Retreat at COS

October
1998
Larry Dutto, Academic Senate President, College of the Sequoias

As the newly elected academic senate president for The College of the Sequoias I was frantically seeking speakers for our senate retreat prior to the start of the school year. I felt a real need to have someone share, with our senators, the secrets of a successful shared governance model for our college.

We had already scheduled our Superintendent/President, Dr. Kamiran Badrkhan and Board President, John Zumwalt to speak; however, we were still seeking an outside expert.

Unfortunately, everyone I contacted had a scheduling conflict and the day arrived for the retreat without that "expert" with all the answers. Little did I realize that at COS we already had all the key elements for the making of a successful shared governance model.

The first key is to have a college president who is willing to exchange ideas on how the process works. That has not always been the case at COS. Now, however, in Dr. Badrkhan, we have someone who is willing to listen to the senate, faculty, staff and community for their input prior to making decisions.

The second key to a successful shared governance model is the board of trustees. At our retreat, it was very rewarding to have our board members share their ideas on how the process should work, and indicate their readiness to acknowledge the primacy of the faculty in academic and professional matters.

The final piece of the puzzle is the senate and faculty working together with feelings of respect and trust. At COS, we have been building this atmosphere through participation on committees and, especially, through our College Council, which is evolving into a global-thinking group with the best interest of the entire college as its main focus.

Shared governance takes people willing to share ideas, have trust in the process and work together to achieve common goals. Our retreat established that we have all that right here. We sought the expert, and s/he is us!

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