Common Council Created to Improve Shared Governance

University personnel are in the process of forming a common council, merging the current Faculty Senate with classified staff.

The current Faculty Senate  is made up of academic staff and faculty.

“The idea for common council is to merge everyone into one big common council, and from there they will split off into their own individual committees,” said Katie Cronmiller, Student Government Association vice president. “All university-wide policies, which faculty and staff have an influence on, will be brought before the common council.”

On April 15, the proposed constitution explaining how the council will function, was brought before Faculty Senate for viewing.

“Classified staff was already elected to join, but faculty and academic staff will be voting to accept the changes that we proposed for the new governing body next year,” said Andrew Glazner, SGA College of Professional Studies senator.

At the last Faculty Senate meeting of the school year, on May 6, the proposal will be voted on.

“Now they’re just deciding what it will look like, how many people will be on the common council, which committees will report to common council and what committees are more academic-focused,” Cronmiller said. “Classified staff will not be voting on academic issues.”

Cronmiller explained there are three parties of shared governance on campus: students, the chancellor and administration, and personnel.

“There were conversations throughout this process about getting students involved and actually having students listed as counselors and having votes, but there’s anxiety there about making sure the separation of financial power remains in the SGA side,” said Kym Buchanan, appointed chair of the Common Council Planning Committee. “At other universities, students did lose control over segregated fees because the personnel side of shared governance intruded into that area.”

Buchanan hopes the voting right distribution will improve transparency so all members are up to date. He said this model will also make it easier for groups to talk and make decisions more efficiently.

Fifteen years ago, the legislature changed whether academic staff and faculty must be included in decision-making processes on campus-wide issues.

“One and a half years ago the legislature changed its mind again and said classified staff also gets shared governance rights, so since we already had one combined senate of faculty and staff, we decided to combine everything into one common council,” Cronmiller said.

On July 1, classified staff is going to be called university staff. University staff includes programming assistants, those working in academic affairs and many other employees across campus.

“SGA decided to remain apart of this shared governance merger and will be maintaining our essential seats,” Glazner said. “We will have a representative in common council, but we won’t have an official vote.”

Cronmiller hopes this will create stronger ties between SGA and the faculty and staff governance process.

 

Sophie Stickelmaier

Reporter

sstic520@uwsp.edu

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