Shared Governance


Shared Governance Executive Summary

Shared Governance is a term commonly used to denote the delineated responsibilities of those charged with accomplishing the task of educating students and assessing the enterprise of education. The overarching purpose of shared governance is to involve all stakeholders in the educational process in order to work toward excellence in the education and training of students.

A working definition is in order:

Shared governance is not a simple matter of committee consensus, or the faculty’s engaging administrators to take on the dirty work, or any number of other common misconceptions. Shared governance is much more complex; it is a delicate balance between faculty and staff participation in planning and decision-making processes, on the one hand, and administrative accountability on the other. . . . True shared governance attempts to balance maximum participation in decision making with clear accountability. That is a difficult balance to maintain, which may explain why the concept has become so fraught. Genuine shared governance gives voice (but not necessarily ultimate authority) to concerns common to all constituencies as well as to issues unique to specific groups.1


Shared Governance has the potential to enhance education. It has the capacity in increase trust, create a sense of participation, and accomplish efficiencies in the operation of academic institutions. Four basic principles are essential in order for shared governance to work properly:

  • Shared Ownership – this requires sharing information, decisions, insights, and perspectives. The commitment fostered by shared ownership includes full participation, responsibility, accountability and communication.
  • Shared Efficiency – this requires the mastery of group process in a way that maximizes efficiency in order to avoid unnecessary work, costly delays, artificial consensus, or forced unanimity.
  • Shared Relationships – this requires more time spent together, prayer, professional respect, collegiality, mutual concern, and the courage to confront among the administration and faculty. Building trust is essential to meaningful collaboration.
  • Shared Mission – it is the goal of Shared Governance to allow Cedarville University to more effectively accomplish the mission of educating the next generation of Christian leaders in all areas of endeavor.


  • Board of Trustees – The final administrative authority of Cedarville University is vested in the Board of Trustees. They retain the fundamental responsibility and ultimate authority for the institution’s legal, fiscal, academic, and operational well-being.
  • President – The president is the chief executive officer of Cedarville University and is appointed by the Board of Trustees to exercise general supervision over the affairs of the University including the Academic Division. The president has final delegated authority over the Educational activities of Cedarville University in matters of appointments and terminations, and in assuring that the actions and policies are in harmony with the Institution’s corporate and educational mission, doctrinal statement, and appropriate Christian lifestyle.
  • Provost – The provost is the chief operating officer and is appointed by the president and confirmed by the Board of Trustees. The provost is accountable to the president and has oversight of all educational, student life, enrollment and marketing, financial, operational, human resources and strategic planning activities of Cedarville University. The provost has delegated authority and responsibility to approve policies for the operation of divisions and to supervise the work of the vice presidents and associate vice presidents as assigned by the president.
  • Academic Vice President – The academic vice president is appointed by the provost in consultation with the president and the Board of Trustees. The AVP is accountable to the provost, serves as the university’s chief academic officer, and shares the direct supervision of the faculty with the deans of schools and the department chairs. The Academic Vice President administers policies by which the academic division is governed. The Academic Vice President has final voice in recommending the appointment of deans for each school, and the AVP supervises them.
  • The Deans of Schools – The deans of respective schools are appointed by the academic vice president in consultation with the Board of Trustees, the president, the provost and the faculty of the school. The dean of each school is accountable to the AVP and shares direct supervision of the faculty of his/her school with the department chairs within the school. In coordination with the members of each instructional department, the dean of the school appoints department chairs. The academic vice president ratifies the decision of the dean.
  • The Department Chairs – The chairs of departments within a particular school are appointed by the dean of the school in consultation with the Academic Vice President. The department of each department within a school is responsible to the dean of that school and has direct supervision of the members of the department. In coordination with the dean of the school, the chair appoints departmental faculty members. The academic vice president ratifies the decision to appoint a new faculty member.
  • The Faculty – The faculty (as a whole and individually) are responsible to the chair of their department, the dean of their respective school, the academic vice president, the provost, the president and through the latter to the board of Trustees. The Trustees and educational administration have given delineated authority and responsibility to the faculty, of the whole, for all matters related to the curriculum of the Undergraduate school and for all standing and special committees of the University. In addition, the faculty of each school of the university have responsibility for their school’s mission and values statements, educational philosophy, and educational objectives for the respective school and for assisting in the long-range planning for the respective school. The same is true for the faculty of each department.
  • Students – Students are the institution’s main educational focus and have a legitimate interest in matters affecting their ability to complete their education.


Faculty, as in any institution of higher learning, play a significant role in the oversight of the Cedarville University. Under the final authority of the Board of Trustees and the delegated authority of the administration, the faculty collectively will exercise delineated authority over instruction and curriculum and will share responsibility for many standards and policies. The recommendation of major changes in policy or the provision of advice to the administration or Board of Trustees on central issues of concern rests with the faculty as a whole.

Delineated AuthorityThe faculty have delineated authority through the educational administration and the Board of Trustees for the development of curriculum, subject matter and methods of instruction, faculty status, and those aspects of student life that relate directly to the educational process – including the assignment of grades. They also set requirements for the degrees offered in courses, determine when the requirements have been met, and authorize the president and the board to grant the degrees achieved.Faculty decisions are subject to review by the deans of the schools, the academic vice president, the provost, the president and the Board of Trustees. They normally concur with the faculty judgment except in rare instances and for compelling reasons. A formal rejection of a faculty decision by any or all of the educational administrators or the Board of Trustees must be put into writing and distributed to the faculty, together with the reasons of the rejection and a review of the appeal process within fortyfive days for administrators and ninety day for the Board of Trustees.Shared ResponsibilityThe faculty share, with the administrative officers, responsibility for developing standards and policies for the recruitment of students and the establishment of criteria for faculty appointments, promotions and dismissal. In addition, they are to be consulted in the formulation of policies related to changes in faculty benefits, job descriptions, student life, educational facilities, implementing educational technology, and all long-range planning that impacts education.


The Board of Trustees delegates the structure and operational processes of the Academic Division to the faculty of the whole or to properly established committees, schools and departments under the supervision of, the department chair, the dean of the respective school, the AVP, the provost, and the president. The faculty will exercise their delineated authority through (a) formal action in faculty meetings; (b) committees; (c) school meetings; and (d) department meetings. The latter three areas are designed to implement established policy, to develop and recommend changes, and to interpret policy as necessary. Under the final administrative authority of the Board of Trustees and the delegated authority of the administration, faculty are given responsibility for establishing a workable committee structure for the operation of the Academic Division, and their respective schools and departments for its implementation. Faculty members should not take it upon themselves, as individuals or as a group which has not been authorized to act on behalf of the faculty as a whole, to make decisions or enact or implement policy for the faculty without the consent of the appropriate bodies. The responsibilities outlined above are subject to the review of the Board of Trustees and administration as outlined in the section entitled Delineated Authority.

In this shared governance arrangement faculty exercise three distinct roles in decision making depending upon the issue at hand.

Decision-Making: Faculty assume a decision-making role in all aspects of the Academic Division outlined under Delineated Authority above. As highly-credentialed and experienced experts in various professions and disciplines, faculty are entrusted by the Board of Trustees with those areas of responsibility. Only in rare cases will the decision-making role of the faculty in these areas be overturned by the administration or Trustees.Advisory Role: Faculty have an advisory role in those areas of university governance which relate to the items listed under shared responsibility above. This would include the selection of leadership within the Academic Division, policies related to admissions requirements, student recruitment, and faculty standards. In an advisory role, the faculty participate with the administration and the Trustees in the decision-making process. This role gives the faculty voice in key decisions while retaining final authority with the Trustees. It would be highly unusual for the administration or Trustees to move in a direction that the faculty opposes. In such cases, the faculty would receive a formal rationale for the actions of the administration or Trustees.Consulting Role: Faculty have a consulting role on many items not specifically listed under Delineated and Shared Authority above. In this role, faculty input into the process may come in the form of representation on committees and task forces, surveys, open forums, focus groups, etc. Consultation votes may be taken in University Faculty meetings, school and department meetings, or in other forums.


Faculty Academic Advisory Committee

Faculty Committee to the President

Faculty Tenure Committee

Student Academic Advisory Board

Deans Council

Academic Leadership Group

Graduate Council

Curriculum Committee

Admissions Committee

Institutional Review Board

Faculty Participation in the University Benefits Advisory Group

School meetings

Department Meetings

Reorganization Task Force “Exactly What is Shared Governance,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 23, 2009: accessed August 31, 2009.



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