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Board of Trustees approves new governance model, to be implemented next school year at Warren Wilson College

by Maddy Dillon, staff writer

During the weekend of April 28-30, the Board of Trustees approved the new governance model presented by the Governance Task Force at a community meeting held on Wednesday, April 13 in the College Chapel.

The new model consists of three major changes to the current governance model. The first change involves a restructuring of college committees. Currently college committees are chaired by various community members and focus on a variety of issues. The new structure will implement leadership by the President’s Advisory Council (PAC). Each PAC member will oversee a policy committee which will consist of an elected staff, faculty and student member. In addition, committees will have appointed liaisons who hold ex officio positions to increase communication between the committee and Staff Forum/Student Caucus. PAC leaders will also be able to appoint other community members with non-voting power to their perspective committees.

Biology Professor Lou Weber voiced her concern in the meeting about PAC members leading committees.

“Hypothetically, what would happen if the PAC member is a dictator?” Weber asked.

John Casey, a faculty task force representative responded to this concern.

“This a deep seeded choice made in this structure,” Casey said. “We pay PAC members bigger bucks than the rest of us and we expect them to hold more responsibility and pay attention.”

“Trust that PAC members are interested in doing the job well,” he added. “This structure is focused on what we do want instead of what we don’t want to happen.”

PAC member and Dean of the College Paula Garrett also responded.

“If we don’t get off the dime, we will continue to have a dysfunctional governance system,” Garrett said. “Let’s trust and try this [new model] in the spirit of engagement and community. Applaud us when we do it right and correct us when we do it wrong,” she added. Another concern voiced in the meeting was surrounding communication.

Marion Yeager, staff representative, envisions a website that will contain minutes and meeting times to keep the community informed about what committees are working on.

“Communication is something we haven’t had enough of and are hoping to improve,” Yeager said.

The second change is that Staff Forum will have six staff and six faculty elected as voting members. Currently, all full time faculty and staff member are voting members. In addition, Staff Forum will meet once a month as opposed to the current twice a month schedule.

Lastly, the new model emphasized community meetings by creating a schedule that rotates back and forth from the Forum. According to Lacey Cunningham, Student Caucus Co-Conveners and the President will ultimately decide the topic for community meetings. However, community members will be able to submit concerns that need to be addressed during community meetings. Implementation of community celebrations are also being discussed.

According to Cunningham, community meetings will not necessarily be a venue for policy.

Big issues will be directed towards someone in charge of policy and the new governance model will hopefully address it.

“People have stopped believing that our governance structure works and have found other ways to get things done. If anything, a new governance structure will help remind us of the power and potential of community decision-making,” Cunningham said.

Although the changes plan to be implemented in the 2011-12 academic year, the Governance Task Force is currently working out specific implementation logistics.

“What we don’t want is to start the year with the same structure and have [confusion] about which system is in play,” John Casey, a faculty representative said.

Casey announced elections for a Staff and a Faculty Convener for the new Forum in an e-mail to staff and faculty sent Monday May 2.

“Those elected will also become members of the Governance Implementation Team, which will conduct elections for voting members of the new Forum during orientation week,” Casey wrote in the e-mail.

Nominations for a staff and/or faculty member should be sent via email to John Casey at casey@warren-wilson.edu before 5:00 Thursday, May 5.


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  1. [...] The new community meetings will be held the first Wednesday of every month, as outlined by the new governance system that was put in place this year. The agenda for the meetings is set by the elected voting members [...]

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