"Just the facts, ma'am."
Unfortunately, the following is a mixture of facts and suggestions for (better) practice. This blog is closed but a timely afterword must now be added. I speak only of and for myself (and mostly to myself, as well). But some have inquired. And so, I shall respond.
I. What is the Faculty Trustee?
In reality, the Faculty Trustee is nothing but an artefact of law (specifically CRS § 23-54-102). Subsection 4 of Section 3 indicates the nature and scope of the office:
(4) A full-time member of the teaching faculty at large of Metropolitan state
collegeUNIVERSITY of Denver, elected by the faculty at large, shall fill the eleventh office as a member of the board of trustees. The term of said office shall be one year, beginning July 1, 2002, and beginning July 1 each year thereafter. The elected faculty member of the board of trustees shall be advisory, without the right to vote and without the right to attend executive sessions of the board of trustees, as provided by section 24-6-402, C.R.S.
Section 1.7 of the Trustees Policy Manual adds little, if any, substance to this existing language:
Section 1.7: Faculty Trustee
In accord with C.R.S. § 23-54-102(4)(2002), the teaching faculty of the College shall elect one of its eligible members to be the Faculty Trustee.
A. A Faculty Trustee shall be a full-time member of the teaching faculty of the College.
B. The Faculty Trustee shall be advisory, without the right to vote and without the right to attend executive sessions of the Board of Trustees.
C. The Faculty Trustee shall be elected for a term of one year beginning July 1.
D. The Faculty Trustee shall take and subscribe to the oath of office prescribed by the Constitution of this State before entering upon the duties of this office.
E. Any vacancy in this office shall be filled by election for the unexpired term.
II. What is the job of the Faculty Trustee?
Because it is completely unspecified, one can only make necessary reference to practices elsewhere. However, this evidence is not univocal and can scarcely serve as a sure guide. Those who have studied the issue note the response to the following prompt, as follows:
- Faculty trustees have fiduciary responsibility for the institution as a whole. However, many people believe that it is difficult for them to act in this manner because their board colleagues assume that they will always serve the role of advocating for faculty positions. Did you experience such pressures from your faculty colleagues in your role as a trustee?
In response, 10.2% of the faculty trustees indicated that they viewed their role as representing the institution as a whole, and did not specify their role as being a faculty representative. In contrast, 41.7% of the trustees indicated they viewed their role as that of a faculty representative and did not specify the larger role of representing the institution as a whole. Another 22% of faculty trustees indicated that they played a dual role and were able to fulfill their fiduciary responsibility to the institution while also advocating for faculty colleagues.
However, the lack of a vote -- and even the nominal powers to insert agenda items -- means that it is actually quite difficult to conceive of the Faculty Trustee as an agent at all. The position is advisory and that only insofar as advice is sought (very unusual).
III. But doesn't the Faculty Trustee "represent" the faculty?
Not really. First, how could one individual represent all the various categories of faculty members? Even limiting it to the full-time faculty, how is this effectively managed? I suppose one could "poll" the full-time faculty in email but that presupposes a circumstance calling for a kind of faculty plebiscite (also, very unusual). But there is simply no precedent in law or history for this sort of endeavor. (Additionally, this is a very limited notion of representation anyway.)
IV. But surely there must be some means of communicating the faculty perspective?
Undoubtedly. But that very specific task is devolved by the Board to the President (see Section 1.2):
The Board of Trustees encourages a broad exchange of information and ideas. To facilitate the exchange of information and ideas, the Board of Trustees looks to the President of the College as its primary liaison with the College constituencies. To be effective in this role, the President must establish an open environment of communication with all members of the College community and establish avenues for consultation and recommendation by faculty, students, and staff regarding policy matters considered by the Board of Trustees.
The Board of Trustees delegates to the President, as the chief executive officer of the College, full authority and responsibility for administering the College within the policies and procedures established by the Board of Trustees. Within this delegation is the expectation that the President will elicit the participation and facilitate the fulfillment of the roles and responsibilities of the College’s campus constituencies in the College’s internal decision-making processes. It is through the initiative, participation, and effort of all the College’s constituencies that excellence is achieved [my emphases].
The fact that this has not been done is in no way attributable to the neutered Faculty Trustee: it just isn't his job.
V. Well, what do we do now?
We need more representation, not less. As the AAUP recommends:
Faculty representation on an institution’s governing board and its committees should not be a substitute for regular, substantive communication between the faculty and the board, unmediated by members of the administration. Such communication is best accomplished through the establishment of a liaison or conference committee that consists only of faculty members and trustees and that meets to discuss items brought to its attention by trustees or faculty members. Institutions must be clear about the role of a conference committee in their governance structure in order to avoid overlapping jurisdiction of the conference committee with standing committees of the governing board, the administration, or the faculty.
In addition to a standing liaison committee, joint ad hoc committees are sometimes needed to address specific issues of mutual concern. The Statement on Government refers to the crucial joint responsibility of the faculty and governing board for the selection of the president: “Joint effort of a most critical kind must be taken when an institution chooses a new president. The selection of a chief administrative officer should follow upon a cooperative search by the governing board and the faculty, taking into consideration the opinions of others who are appropriately interested” [my emphases].
An example of this -- in action -- is St Olaf's Regents-Faculty Conference Committee, which at least has the prospect of actual representation of faculty issues (given its composition).
VI. What else do we need to know?
The Board meets rarely and is hardly deliberative: because so many issues need to be dealt with swiftly and efficiently, it is patently obvious -- to even the least astute observer -- that what deliberation there has been has already taken place elsewhere. Therefore, without the issues raised in the last two sections being addressed, there seems to be little prospect for an effective reliance on the person of the Faculty Trustee. Nor indeed, should more weight be brought to bear on this inert function: new models are now required.
I said every one of these things in the prior year but here they are again. Peace out.