The high aspirations, vision, and mission of California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) necessitate the meaningful contributions and participation of the entire campus community in decision-making through a process of shared governance. The purpose of this document is to explain how the various stakeholder groups can cooperate in that decision-making process. Shared governance is most effective when it recognizes that the institution benefits from shared decision-making, consultation, and a spirit of collegiality, emphasizing mutual respect and mutual responsibility. Governance of CSUSB is shared among the Board of Trustees, administration, faculty, staff, and students. Communication is a key component of genuine shared governance. When groups are kept informed of and understand developments occurring within the University, and when commitment to communication exists at all levels, the process will work best.
The California State University[i], the California Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act[ii], and the American Association of University Professors[iii] all recognize that shared governance is a fundamental operating principle in institutions of higher learning. This statement does not supplant these foundational documents, nor any current collective bargaining agreements. Rather, CSUSB seeks to affirm the importance of shared governance by providing a vision for how the administration, faculty, staff, and students of CSUSB can collaborate through shared governance to strengthen the institution.
SHARED GOVERNANCE AT CSUSB
Shared governance is a set of practices under which administration, faculty, staff, and students participate in significant decisions concerning the operation and welfare of CSUSB. As defined in HEERA and “Tenets of System Level Shared Governance in the California State University,” shared governance refers to a process of joint decision-making and consultation between administration and faculty on matters in which faculty has primacy. At CSUSB, we believe it’s important to expand the concept of shared governance to include staff and students, as they are essential in the life of every campus. Each group has different areas of expertise, and therefore serve distinct roles in shared governance.
The President maintains primary administrative responsibility for the university. In areas where primary responsibility rests with the faculty, the faculty’s opinions, recommendations, and advice are routinely sought by and conveyed to the President in a manner consistent with shared governance. As defined in the AAUP Statement of Government of Colleges and Universities, faculty have primary responsibility for such fundamental areas as curriculum, subject matter and methods of instruction, research, faculty status, and those aspects of student life which relate to the educational process. The faculty is also consulted on fiscal matters that affect the instructional program of the university. At CSUSB, the Faculty Senate is the primary consultative body for instructional and academic related professional matters on campus; however this does not exclude the Senate from providing input on other important matters.
The CSUSB Staff Council and the Associated Students, Inc. are also important consultative bodies at CSUSB. Both of these bodies should be involved in the consultative process as appropriate. Staff employee participation in the shared governance process provides the opportunity to contribute staff expertise, experience, and institutional knowledge in a variety of areas for the mutual benefit of all parties concerned. Students also provide key insight into student perspectives and offer important contributions to the success of shared governance.
It is understood that there may be occasions when institutional leaders must act in the best interest of the institution on major issues affecting the campus, or respond to an external request, without following the full consultative process. In such cases, the representative bodies shall be informed as soon as possible and be given an opportunity to comment on the issue.
CONSULTATION AT CSUSB
Consultation is the key component of effective shared governance. Consultation between faculty, staff, students, and/or administration within this context is defined as a mutual exchange of information, ideas, opinions, and recommendations starting from the initial formulation of policy and procedures affecting those stakeholders where the decision will have impact. It is understood that broad participation in decision-making adds critical expertise and perspectives that will strengthen decision-making. The consultation shall take place in time for meaningful input before final decisions are made. Consultation requires a commitment to thoughtfully consider the input and recommendations of those consulted, and that consulted parties may have a reasonable expectation their input will influence the eventual outcome.
Effective and meaningful consultation should be characterized by transparency in communication, collaboration, inclusiveness, collegiality, fairness, honesty, integrity, and accountability. Above all else, a mutual commitment and respect for the process must be observed if consultation in the context of shared governance is to be successful.
CSUSB will continue to monitor and evaluate its progress towards this vision of shared governance through the Shared Governance Steering Committee. Faculty, staff, and student members of the Steering Committee shall be elected by their constituencies, and the President will appoint the participants from administrative leadership. The Steering Committee should meet frequently enough to conduct its business. The parties acknowledge that this roadmap to a robust system of shared governance is the beginning and not the end of the process.
[i] Tenets of System Level Shared Governance in the California State University, ASCSU, May 8, 2018. https://www.calstatela.edu/sites/default/files/groups/Academic Senate/docs/tenets_of_system_level_shared_governance_in_the_california_state_university.pdf
[iii] Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities, American Association of University Professors, October 1966. https://www.aaup.org/report/statement-government-colleges-and-universities