Board of Trustees Approves Faculty Governance Resolutions

Measures taken on dean’s search and review, appointment, promotion and tenure; Faculty Senate membership will be addressed in the fall.

GW campus gate
June 29, 2015

The George Washington University Board of Trustees approved three resolutions concerning shared governance, marking an important step in the university’s multi-year process to revise the Faculty Code and Faculty Organization Plan to better align with GW’s Vision 2021 strategic plan.

The resolutions, which were approved unanimously by both the Committee on Academic Affairs and the Board of Trustees, concern the recommendations put together by four working groups regarding principles for future university governance outlined in spring 2014: dean’s search and review procedures; appointment, promotion and tenure among university faculty; school rules and procedures; and participation on the Faculty Senate.

“There has been broad consensus that the goal of the GW community is to move the university into the ranks of the most respected and admired institutions in the world,” said Board of Trustees Chair Nelson Carbonell, B.S. ’85. “The changes to the Faculty Code will help us achieve our aspirations by enhancing the university’s ability to attract and retain top faculty and deans, strengthening tenure at George Washington and expanding participation in shared governance. These changes also will bring us more in line with practices at peer and aspirational peer institutions.”

A ‘highly collaborative’ process

The three resolutions are the result of a “collaborative” two-year process, Mr. Carbonell said. They are the following:

1. Proposed amendment to the Faculty Organization Plan (FOP). The current FOP allows only full-time, tenured faculty to serve in the Faculty Senate. The proposed change would allow tenured, regular contract and specialized faculty who have attained the rank of associate professor to serve on the senate. The resolution called for George Washington President Steven Knapp to introduce this amendment for Faculty Assembly consideration in October.

2. Amendments to the Faculty Code.

a. Appointment, promotion and tenure: The changes provide more clear guidelines for faculty promotion, granting the ranks of associate professor and professor to those who have achieved “excellence” in their disciplines, as opposed to “competence.” It calls on the schools to establish and publish written criteria on which promotion to the ranks of assistant professor and professor will be based and calls on the department to demonstrate at all stages that the candidate has met the criteria when issuing a faculty recommendation. The schools have the ability to concur or disagree with the department’s recommendation. The creation of a university-wide committee, previously considered by the working groups, was not included in the resolution.

b. Dean’s search and review procedures: The changes will streamline this process, vesting the full-time faculty of the school with the discretion to determine the composition of a search committee, within certain parameters: At least five and at most 10 full-time faculty members, elected by the full-time faculty of the school, will make up the committee, along with the provost or a representative designated by the provost, one or two current students, one or two alumni and trustees (typically one or two), as appointed by the chair of the board. The faculty members and trustees will have voting rights.

3. Further study on certain provisions of the Faculty Code. The board called for further input from faculty and the administration regarding implementing a 75:25 ratio of tenured or tenure-track appointments to non-tenure track appointments within the university’s schools. Further study also is required for a proposed rule for a department to have no less than 50 percent of its regular faculty holding tenure or tenure-track appointments and regarding the creation of a university-wide personnel committee. The board set a completion date for further study prior to its October meeting. Mr. Carbonell said he looked forward to continuing the discussion in the fall.

The multi-year process to update the Faculty Code and Faculty Organization Plan began in 2013, with faculty group meetings, town halls and questionnaires. That led to the identification of the five principles for future university governance and the formation of five working groups to analyze those topics under the leadership of Trustee Madeleine Jacobs, B.S. ’68. The working groups were made up of 27 faculty, eight university trustees and eight academic administrators. 

Last spring, the Board of Trustees enhanced protections for academic freedom after receiving a resolution from the Faculty Senate and further input from the Faculty Senate Executive Committee and the university administration.

The draft recommendations from the four remaining working groups were shared with the university community in early April at a series of town hall forums hosted by Ms. Jacobs and at the monthly meeting of the Faculty Senate. In May, the senate passed resolutions in response to the recommendations and presented them to the Board of Trustees’ Committee on Academic Affairs.

Other action items included resolutions to create new doctorate degree programs.

The board approved four new doctorate degree programs: doctorate in educational science in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development; doctorate in behavioral sciences in public health in the Milken Institute School of Public Health; doctorate of engineering in engineering management in the School of Engineering and Applied Science; and doctorate in translational health services in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

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Shared Governance Discussed at Faculty Senate Meeting

April 13, 2015
Board of Trustees Chair Nelson Carbonell, Trustee Madeleine Jacobs discuss draft recommendations.

Faculty Governance Town Halls Underway

April 07, 2015
Meetings provide forum for feedback on draft recommendations to the faculty code.

Faculty Governance Assessment Continues

September 29, 2014
After the Board of Trustees passed enhanced protections for academic freedom over the summer, working group of trustees, faculty and administrators begin review of remaining principles.

Board of Trustees Chair Addresses Faculty Code, Shared Governance

March 24, 2014
After meeting with 600 faculty members, Nelson Carbonell outlines key principles for future governance plans.