Shared Governance at ASU


This document identifies the principles and mechanisms by which the Academic Assembly and the administration of Arizona State University shall seek to affect their commitment to the university’s mission and fulfill the shared government responsibilities mandated by the legislature and the Board. This memorandum supersedes all previous memoranda and agreements and does not assume powers not granted to Arizona State University faculty or administration by the State of Arizona or the Arizona Board of Regents.

Basis of Shared Governance

Shared governance establishes the ethos and the structures that enable divergent ideas to be placed on the table, debated for their merits, shaped for the larger good of the university community, and put to use in a timely manner. Shared governance is the keystone that enables the Academic Assembly and the administrative leadership to sustain and advance the university’s mission, effectiveness, and reputation.

The university’s connection with students, alumni, the immediate community, and the academic community travels directly through faculty and academic professionals, their actions, and their works. The Academic Assembly bears significant responsibility for policies and actions dealing with curriculum, promotion and tenure, budget community outreach, service to academic and community entities, research, and organization. Individual faculty members who have demonstrated exceptional organizational skills and seek administrative service are typically selected for positions in which they have the primary responsibility for academic administration.

Faculty and academic professionals generate significant funding and research, create and sustain the academic stature of the university, broaden the horizons and citizenship of students and society, and establish and extend future fruitful alumni relationships. Because of these important contributions by the faculty and academic professionals, a commitment to shared governance is essential to the advancement of the university’s mission. At a minimum, shared governance leads to better decision-making, stronger collegiality, and the construction and maintenance of relationships of trust and mutual accord; it sets for all to see an extensive example of democratic governance, warrantees that decisions are based on a vast array of cutting-edge knowledge and information, and ensures that policies and actions are based on long-term values rather than short-term goals.

Shared governance requires collaboration through established structures and procedures between the university’s administration and elected representatives of the Academic Assembly -- the University Senate, University Academic Council, and Senate committees. This collaboration occurs as administrators and their staff often serve as ex officio members of these bodies or otherwise meet with them. Assembly members, in turn, serve on university committees and other bodies outside the Senate’s direct authority. When administrators solicit the counsel of individual faculty or of faculty who hold administrative positions, they are indeed involving “faculty” in their decision making, but this does not substitute for collaboration with elected faculty representatives. Shared governance requires such collaboration to maximize diverse perspectives, promote a sense of efficacy among Assembly members, and enable administrative leaders to make the most informed choices about policies and resources.

The vast majority of instances of shared governance carry the burden of careful collaboration wherein appropriate Assembly bodies and administration have reached general agreement. General agreement means that appropriate elected Assembly representatives and administrators, through a spirit of mutual respect, have weighed matters and options and have reached consensus.

The University President or designee(s) may sometimes make a final decision that is not the outcome of general agreement. In these cases, the President or the President’s designee will provide the elected Assembly leaders with an explanation for why such actions were taken.

University Senate

  • All faculty and academic professionals on all four ASU campuses are members of the Academic Assembly. They are represented in the University Senate by senators chosen from each degree-granting unit – plus a few academic support or research entities. The University Academic Council, consisting of the presidents, presidents-elect, and immediate past presidents of each campus, serves as the Senate’s executive board. The Council annually selects a chair from among its members to convene the Council meetings, preside over the Senate as Senate President, and serve as spokesperson for the Council. The Senate President also represents the Assembly on the University Council. In addition to meetings of the University Senate, senators serve on a range of Senate standing and ad-hoc committees and task forces. These groups raise issues for Senate consideration as well as working directly with the administration on various issues.
  • The Assembly membership of each campus shall elect each year a president-elect, who shall become president for that campus on June 1 of the following year. Senators elected from units on individual campuses may, at their initiative, caucus to discuss issues of specific importance to their campus.

University Academic Council

The University Academic Council shall have the following functions and responsibilities:

  • Supervise the affairs of the University Senate between its business meetings, including the summer between Spring and Fall semesters.
  • Meet regularly with the President—or the President’s designee—to represent the interests of the University Senate and the Academic Assembly;
  • Advise the President on issues related to shared governance;
  • Advise the President on matters of university policy;
  • The four presidents representing faculty and academic professionals on all four campuses will serve on the President’s University Council. All appointments to University Council are made by the President and subject to his review annually.
  • Meet regularly with and advise the Provost on academic matters;
  • Help harmonize and synchronize university-wide curricular issues;
  • Oversee university-wide governance committees;
  • Meet with and advise any university officer as requested ;
  • Represent ASU on the Arizona Faculties Council, designating the chair of that body when the rotation falls to ASU to fill that position;

The President, Provost and members of the University Academic Council will discuss the status of shared governance processes at their regular meetings from time to time as needed.

The faculty’s role in shared governance extends throughout the operation of the university. University-wide committees must consist of faculty, administrators, and members of other sectors of the University community, as appropriate. Faculty and administration must work cooperatively and collaboratively to balance faculty and administration perspectives, and to achieve fair representation in committee composition.

Faculty shall be active participants in the selection and review of academic unit chairs and directors, deans, vice provosts, and academic vice presidents. Search and hiring committees and meetings will provide for both faculty and university administration input and collaboration.

Decision-making in universities is dispersed. Colleges, schools, divisions, departments, and centers all have the capacity to enact some policies and certain procedures within their own sphere of operation. Decision-making authority often rests with the administrative heads of those units. Shared governance, however, is intended by the legislature, Board of Regents, and the university to operate within these units as well, as reflected in ACD policies on faculty voting rights and unit bylaws. In all faculty units, bylaws must provide for structures, policies, and procedures that establish collaboration between unit administrators and Assembly members regarding those policies and procedures. Members of the Assembly may solicit the assistance of the University Academic Council and the University Senate to help promote effective shared governance in these units.

The University Senate meets in regular monthly sessions during the academic year and may meet in special sessions if needed. Meeting locations at each campus provide appropriate audio-visual equipment and support personnel to enable synchronous, real-time meetings of the Senate in a single session.The chair or designee of the University Academic Council shall preside over the meetings.

Administrators at every level should give due consideration to faculty and academic professionals who perform service for the university and campus communities. This is especially true for campus-wide Senate officers, who will also have responsibilities in the University Academic Council. The following policies and procedures permit recognition of their significant service commitment and enable them to professionalize their work.

Reassigned time:

  • Service is an expected part of the workload for virtually all faculty and academic professionals. It can and should be evaluated in terms of the time it consumes, as well as various indicators of quality that may be available. Academic unit administrators throughout the university determine a faculty member or academic professional’s effort in the annual workload assignment which balances teaching, research, and service.
  • Because teaching is usually the most fungible part of a leader’s workload, reducing the teaching responsibilities of Assembly presidents and presidents-elect has long been the method for accommodating their increased service. However, adjustments to annual work assignment agreements should also be sused to make this accommodation. As a result of the annual agreement faculty should have with their chair, director or dean as the case may be, those serving as President should have their service assignment increased to a higher proportion of time than they might normally have within their work assignment. Thus, there may be some concomitant reduction in research activity. While teaching can be reduced to accommodate this leadership assignment, all tenured faculty are expected to be teach – scholars and, as with administrators, all are expected to teach. Therefore, the President serving as Chair of the UAC will receive a teaching reduction of two courses for academic year. The three other Presidents will receive a one course reduction in their teaching assignment. Most will continue to participate in various mentoring activities, such as theses, dissertations, and other flexible independent work with students.
  • Not all presidents-elect or presidents will have the same level of service commitment. The level for the chair of the UAC will likely be the highest, at roughly 80%. The level for the other presidents may vary, depending on their own situation, but these positions are expected to constitute at least 60% and up to 80% of a person’s workload. Presidents-elect will have fewer obligations, but their service workloads will be 30 to 50%. The exact distribution of the non-service workload will reflect the interests of the individuals and the needs of their academic units.
  • Shared governance service requires a buy-in at every academic level. The university needs to provide the resources by which the usual teaching load of presidents may be covered at the departmental level. Any course release for the president-elect is a matter to be determined by the dean of the presidents’-elect College. Deans and chairs must also buy into the workload distribution approach that permits the faculty/AP leader to be evaluated by the agreed upon distribution. Deans and chairs may wish to ask for certain indicators of service performance, such as time, work activities, and peer evaluations of work performance, but a leader’s stated service distribution must be used in determining merit salary distributions.

Summer stipends for campus presidents:

  • The UAC now serves as the executive board of the University Senate, permitting Senate work to continue through the summer via the UAC. The new (June 1) chair of the UAC will receive a summer stipend that is two-ninths of his/her academic salary. The other new (June 1) campus presidents will receive a maximum of a one month stipend which is negotiable each year, depending on workload. If a campus president is unable to meet the time commitment required for a summer stipend, the president-elect from that campus may be permitted to pursue the workload and receive the stipend. If neither the president nor the president-elect of a campus is able to pursue the workload, the past president from that campus may be offered the opportunity.

Support and Space: To facilitate the work of the University Senate and the University Academic Council, the following support should be provided:

  • Adequate, designated support staff. The University will provide[d] staff support consisting of 2.0 FTE. Support for the Senate Web Site will be Provided by the Provost’s Communication Group.
  • Designated meeting space for University Senate meetings on each campus with technology permitting the simultaneous transmission and reception of video and audio to and from the other campuses;
  • Support personnel at each campus to operate the audio and visual transmissions during University Senate meetings (scheduled monthly but special meetings can be called);
  • Designated physical and cyber storage space for Senate and UAC archives and ongoing actions and activities, including Web support and networked server with appropriate directories for Senate work;
  • Support for travel to and hosting of Arizona Faculties Council activities;
  • We will increase the senate budget to accommodate the item below and above to $25,000 annually. However, the funds should not be used for conference travel but to visit other senates and learn from them as may be useful from time to time. It would be particularly important to learn from multi campus systems like California.
  • Reimbursement of UAC members for travel expenses to and from the campuses on official Council business;

Approved and Implemented by the University Academic Council and ASU Administration in July of 2008