Facebook pixel College Senate Plays Key Role in STLCC Decision-making Process

College Senate Plays Key Role in STLCC Decision-making Process

Thursday, July 27, 2023

If you’ve ever wanted to know how decisions are made at higher education institutions, it helps to understand that it is a collaborative process. It involves sharing authority, responsibility and accountability among the various stakeholders. This approach recognizes the unique knowledge, expertise and perspectives of faculty, staff, administrators and students, and aims to ensure that all stakeholders have a voice in decision-making processes.

First, a little history. In 1966, representatives of the American Association of University Professors Committee on College and University Governance, the American Council on Education, and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges collaborated to publish their “Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities,” which called for shared responsibility among the different components of educational institutions. Thus, shared governance was born.

College Senate StructureSTLCC’s shared governance model has undergone many changes during its history. The current model, the STLCC College Senate, was developed in 2019 after a task force recommendation, with input from both the Institutional Affairs and Academic councils, to merge into one body (see accompanying diagram).

“The senate structure, including the local and College senates, is in place to provide college constituents the opportunity to give input on certain aspects of the College’s operations,” said Andrew Langrehr, vice chancellor for academic affairs who led the transition to the new model. He has served as the College Senate leadership team liaison since the transition.

Who makes up the College Senate? The College Senate’s voting membership includes faculty and staff from the four main campuses and the administrative office, with administrators and students serving as nonvoting members who provide input. College Senate members review proposed board policy and administrative procedures recommendations related to educational programs and student services, or other areas as directed by leadership, and provide recommendations to the chancellor. 

In addition, each of the four main campuses has a local senate also comprised of faculty, staff, administrators and students. The Corporate College also has a senate, comprised of administrators and staff. Some of these local senate members represent their locations as College Senate members. Along with reviewing and voting on College Senate items, local senates also review and make recommendations to campus leadership on local matters and initiatives. 

Senate members are expected to gather input from their colleagues to ensure their votes represent their peers. The local senates vote on proposed recommendations for updates to board policy or administrative procedures before a vote by the College Senate. These recommendations are forwarded to the chancellor for review with the leadership team, which in turn provides further input on the issue. 

“The senate is transparent with respect to its actions, and seeks expertise and resources of non-members in relation to specific topics and strategies,” said Lisa Lee, manager of student accounts who serves on the College Senate. “We strive to receive input from all staff, faculty, and other stakeholders of the College.”

Members serve staggered three-year terms. Meetings are conducted monthly throughout the academic year. Phyllis Davis, associate professor of information systems at Florissant Valley, will serve as chair of the College Senate for 2023-24.

So how can you become a member of the College Senate?

“Anyone interested in serving first must be elected to their local senate, and then be elected by that local senate to serve on College Senate,” Langrehr said. 

Langrehr suggests that anyone interested in serving on the local senate contact their respective location chair for more information. The 2023-24 location chairs are:

For those who are interested, but hesitant to serve, employees and students can provide input on items of interest through the College Senate’s Microsoft Teams page. 

“Everyone is welcome to join the College Senate Teams page to keep up with action items, agendas, and to provide input to their local representatives so these senators can make good, informed decisions based on the feedback from stakeholders,” Lee said.

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