editors note – see BC’s governance web page for more information
In the last year, the governance development team, director of payroll James Craswell and biology instructor Jason Fuller, have been working with members of the BC community – including the student government – to draft out and create a new model for governance of the college. In the following year this system will largely be replacing the existing All College Council and absorbing many of the committees which have been functioning throughout the various departments of the college.
Craswell explained that this is a necessary change for the BC. “We outgrew our governance system a long time ago so what we’re trying to do is build one – get ready for the future – build something we can grow into and will meet our needs today. The absence of a good system has frustrated everybody, employees, management. It’s just difficult to run an organization of this size if you don’t have a formal process for discussing, vetting and creating new ideas.”
In the new governance model, there will be four constituency councils representing faculty, students, classified staff – those with non-academic, part time or hourly jobs – and exempt staff such as management. Starting April 11, nominations for these faculty and staff constituency councils will be opened. All employees of the college can nominate themselves or others for positions on these councils through April 24. Following nominations, those who run will have from April 25 to 29 to garner support. Elections to choose the members of the constituency councils will be held on May 2 to 4, and the first council meetings will be between May 9 and 23. One of their first responsibilities will be appointing members to the functional councils, then to the College Assembly as well.
Membership on a constituency council is expected to require about eight hours of work each month. Participation by faculty members is considered part of their regular governance duties in accordance with the BCAHE contract. Adjunct faculty elected to a council will be paid a nine month stipend over the academic year equivalent to 72 hours work at the current rate for non-instructional assignments. Compensation for classified and exempt staff members will be in the form of paid release-time from their regular duties. Student councilmen will be chosen and compensated according to pending revisions to the ASG constitution and bylaws.
“For faculty and students specifically,” said Fuller of Bellevue College Governance, “I think a big benefit will be increasing the influence of both groups in decision making.” He also explained, “we have the ASG that can work as a student body, someone can go and vet an idea through them.” The new governance model “will be sort of an expansion on that, giving the ASG more influence on what’s happening at high-level decision making type things at the college. It will also do the same thing for the faculty, we have the union, but for many things that’s not an appropriate body for us to exert any kind of influence over decision making.”
The new governance system will be a venue for discussion and arriving at consensus on topics broad and distinct alike. No executive powers are vested in the constituency councils, the functional councils or the college assembly. According to the BC governance web page, “BCG is the forum to address matters including, but not limited to, policies and procedures, strategic planning and issues of college-wide concern. It forwards opinions and recommendations to the president.” According to Craswell, BCG will give the president “a sounding board to bounce ideas off of that he doesn’t really have today.”
Over the next year, existing committees will be renewing their charters and reassessing their roles under the new governance system, which will have them report to the eight councils, wherever they fit best. According to Fuller, the existing All College Council “doesn’t really have a direct fit” but they are working on “helping figuring out their role and moving forward as we roll out this system.”
In the meantime, Craswell and Fuller are “eagerly recruiting as many people as possible” to run for the constituency councils, “because we think the more that run the better off the system is.” Those interested in running for a role in the constituency councils, or who feel a colleague should fill a role, are invited to email the name along with whether they are a faculty member or classified or exempt staff, to firstname.lastname@example.org.