Standard 3: Organization & Governance
The state of New Hampshire, in order "to provide a well coordinated system of public higher education," has established the University System of New Hampshire (USNH) with a single Board of Trustees (RSA 187). The institutions of the System are Keene State College (KSC), Plymouth State College (PSC), the University of New Hampshire (UNH), and the College for Lifelong Learning (CLL).
The Board of Trustees consists of twenty-seven members specified by state law: eight ex officio members (governor, chancellor of the University System, the presidents of KSC, PSC, CLL, and UNH, the commissioners of education and agriculture), eleven members appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Executive Council, six members elected by the alumni (four from UNH, one each from KSC and PSC) and students elected annually on a rotating basis by the student bodies of two of the three campuses: KSC, PSC or UNH. Except for the student trustees, appointed or elected trustees serve four-year terms.
The state has delegated to the board the management and control of all property and affairs of USNH and its institutions. The board meets every other month, with one meeting per year at each campus. Committees meet monthly prior to the general meeting. Committees had been Agricultural Affairs; Financial Affairs; Alumni Affairs; Academic, Faculty and Student Affairs; Executive; Capital and Strategic Planning; Personnel; and Employee Relations. An experiment in reducing overlapping review at the trustee level began in September 1999. Current trustee committees include the Executive Committee, and committees on Financial Affairs, External Affairs, and Programs and Services, which includes both academic and student affairs matters.
The chancellor, as the chief executive officer of the University System, chairs the Administrative Board, which consists of the Presidents of KSC, PSC, UNH and CLL. The Administrative Board is responsible for recommending and implementing policies and procedures. The System has Vice Chancellors for Financial Affairs and for Planning and Budget, an Assistant for Public Information, Directors of Government Affairs and Human Resources, general counsel, and a secretary. It is advised by the following standing councils: Financial Policies and Planning, Alumni Development and Public Affairs, Academic Planning, Facilities Planning, and Personnel Policies.
College administrative procedures receive substantial guidance from USNH trustee and administrative policies, employee policy and the controller's procedures manual. These are available to members of the KSC community over the Internet. In addition to being represented by the President on the Administrative Board, the College is represented by the Vice President for Finance and Planning on policy advisory committees for finance, facilities, and information technology, the Vice President for Academic Affairs on the information technology and programs and services committees, and the Director of Human Resources on the personnel policy committee.Keene State College-Organization
The president of Keene State College is the chief executive officer and has authority and responsibility for the general administration and supervision of all aspects of the College. The executive administration is comprised of the president and the vice presidents of the major divisions: Academic Affairs, Finance and Planning, and Student Affairs. Within the executive division and supporting it are an executive assistant and the directors of Human Resources, College Relations, Advancement, and Alumni and Parent Relations.
The Division of Academic Affairs consists of an Associate Vice President, the Deans of the Divisions of Arts and Humanities, Sciences, and Professional and Graduate Studies, and the Director of the Library. Continuing Education and Extended Studies is also in the Division of Academic Affairs, as are other academic support offices and programs such as Academic and Career Advising, the Aspire Program, the registrar, grants officer, National and International Student Exchange, and Women's Studies. The Commission on the Status of Diversity and Multiculturalism reports jointly to the Division of Academic Affairs and Student Affairs. Recently the structure of the academic units has been changed from disciplines with coordinators to departments with chairs, in both cases reporting to a divisional dean.
The Division of Student Affairs is comprised of two Associate Deans (Student Life and Student Development), a Special Assistant for Alcohol and Other Drug Programs, and the Directors of Admissions, Athletics and Recreational Sports, Campus Safety, Counseling, Health Services, and the Student Center.
Within the Division of Finance and Planning are an Associate Vice President for Finance, the bookstore, the bursar, directors of Administrative Information Services, Campus Technology Services, Student Financial Services, Institutional Research, Physical Plant, Purchasing, and Student Technology Support Services.Keene State College-Governance
Governance at KSC is a shared and collaborative activity that involves representation from all campus constituencies. The College Senate is the policy-making and legislative body for all academic matters. Although the membership consists predominantly of faculty (nineteen of twenty-eight Senators), there is broad campus representation: the Vice Presidents for Academic Affairs and Student Affairs, two professional/administrative/technical (PAT) representatives, one operating staff (OS) representative, the president of the student body, and three additional student representatives. Three standing committees-Curriculum, Academic Standards, and Academic Overview-are responsible for curriculum changes, academic policy proposals and academic program review, respectively. An agenda is distributed in advance of each Senate meeting, and agendas and minutes are accessible on the College's website. Faculty, staff, or students who are not Senate members routinely request and are granted permission to speak on issues which concern them. For example, faculty in a department which is seeking approval for course or program changes usually address the Senate. At general faculty meetings held two or three times a semester, faculty members are informed about and discuss academic issues, including those being considered by the Senate.
In addition to the Senate, individual constituencies have their own organizations. The Operating Staff Council, comprised of eleven elected members, serves in an informational and advisory capacity to the principal administrators on concerns regarding the rights and responsibilities, personnel policies, and welfare of their constituency. They are also represented on a system level at the System Personnel Policy Committee, where system policy is recommended by operating staff system-wide as well as system representatives.
The PAT Council, comprised of nine elected members and the Director of Human Resources as an ex officio member, acts as a liaison between the PATs, the president, and the University System. It serves in an informational and advisory capacity to the president in matters and policies affecting PATs, such as rights and responsibilities, promotion, salaries, educational opportunities, retirement, and other benefits.
The faculty is unionized and represented contractually by the Keene State College Education Association (KSCEA), an affiliate of the National Education Association. The union and the administration collaborate on all matters affecting the terms and conditions of employment. Negotiations with the faculty union take place on campus. While the USNH human resources director is present at these negotiations, the System and trustees are chiefly concerned with salaries, personnel policies, and benefits. Faculty workload and issues such as promotion and tenure are negotiated with the union by the College administration. There are three contractual committees that make recommendations to the administration: the Faculty Evaluation Advisory Committee (promotion and tenure), the Sabbatical Committee and the Faculty Development Committee (grants).
In spring 1997, the Adjunct Association of KSC was formed to represent part-time faculty. The goal of its elected executive board, based on a survey of its constituency, is to improve the salary and working conditions of adjunct faculty (see Standard Five).
Student government consists of the student body representatives (president, vice president and student trustee from Keene State College on a rotating basis), a legislative student assembly (five representatives from each class, five non-traditional students and the student body representatives as non-voting ex-officio members), class officers, and the student government executive board (student body representatives, officers of the student assembly and class presidents).
The College has a variety of committees that focus on particular aspects of its life or mission. While membership varies, there is broad representation of campus constituencies on all committees. Four major committees that advise the president and the vice presidents are the Facilities Planning Advisory Council, the College Budget Council, the College Assessment Committee, and the College Information Technology Committee. The president appoints two commissions: the Commission on the Status of Women and the Commission on the Status of Diversity and Multiculturalism. Other committees deal with issues such as wellness, health and safety, the environment, first-year student issues and athletics. The College also establishes task forces and committees when a particular need arises. Examples include the General Education Task Force, the First Year Council, the Calendar Committee, Greek Life Assessment, and search committees. Students are represented on almost all of the college-wide committees.Appraisal
As a member of USNH, KSC benefits from the coordination of policy and the administrative support it receives as part of the University System. In a state with a history of limited and dwindling support for public higher education, the System and the Board of Trustees have advocated for greater state support. They achieved some success with a 4.7% increase in funding for the System in the latest state budget. The members of the Board of Trustees are deeply committed to the University System and they understand and value the mission and accomplishments of its component institutions. We have benefited greatly from the expertise of the System in legal matters, capital projects and investments. But on the other hand the System exercises inordinate control over certain matters that would best be decided at a local level. For example, control over personnel and budget decisions has undercut institutional flexibility and the ability to address issues in a timely fashion.
The president and the administration of KSC are viewed by campus constituencies as responsive to their issues and concerns-within the limitations of resources and system structural constraints. Individuals and groups enjoy ready access to administrators through an open door policy. Members of the KSC community also have the opportunity to affect campus policy, personnel and decisions through a large array of committees, which generally include representation from all campus constituencies. This inclusiveness is a very positive aspect of our system, and an expectation of wide representation is part of our culture. Some faculty members do, however, question whether other constituencies need to be represented on academic policy committees and some PATs voice concerns over the ability of faculty to dominate committees. More positively these concerns indicate a desire to be involved and to affect campus policies and decisions. There are difficult balances to maintain between being inclusive and acknowledging expertise and between fostering collaboration and providing leadership. Despite the inevitable tensions, we are reasonably successful. Not surprisingly, the effectiveness of committees varies widely, but major committees seem to be functioning well. Finally, although committees are essential to provide an opportunity for campus input, the number of committees and the expectations for committee service drain energies that might be better utilized elsewhere, e.g., for faculty in scholarship, research and teaching. The administration has tried to address this by applying Occam's Razor and not multiplying entities needlessly.
The organizational structure of KSC is clear and well defined, but not cast in stone. There have been considerable efforts in recent years to improve the structure. Examples include the hiring of an Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, reducing the number of directors reporting directly to the Vice President for Academic Affairs, the move of Athletics from Academic to Student Affairs, and the reorganization of the Division of Finance and Planning, including the hiring of an Associate Vice President for Finance. Since the last accreditation review, a principal administrative position, Vice President for Resource Management, and a dean's position, Dean of Graduate Studies, have been eliminated, and the department of Human Resources was transferred to the Executive Division. Another significant change was the move of Career Services from Student Affairs to Academic Affairs and the integration of Academic and Career Advising, Aspire, and the registrar in the Elliot Center. There has also been restructuring within and among the academic divisions (Sciences, Art and Humanities and Graduate and Professional Studies). Some departments have joined together, generally because of shared, integrated, academic programs; others have split apart, generally because of distinct program and department needs that could be better represented by distinct coordinators/chairs. Examples of mergers are Early Childhood, Education and Special Education; Communication, Philosophy and Journalism; and Art and Graphic Design. Splits include Mathematics and Computer Science; Chemistry, Geology, and Physics; and Geography and Sociology. But the question remains whether this is the best way to partition the academic departments, whose size now varies from two to two dozen faculty.
The faculty-through the College Senate, the KSCEA, and committee membership-has a substantial voice in academic matters and general campus policy. The two major bodies, the Senate and union, function independently and are generally respectful of each other's sphere of responsibility: terms and conditions of employment for the union and academic policy for the Senate. Good relations have been fostered in recent years by the overlap in Senate leadership and the union executive board. Tensions can surface, however, over matters of joint concern such as the calendar. Relations between the union and the administration have also been very positive in recent years, following a difficult period of work-to-rule at the beginning of the decade. A major contributing factor has been the decision of KSCEA and the administration to employ a mutual gains approach to collective bargaining. Through the Senate and its committees, faculty exercise authority-subject to presidential approval-over academic programs, curricula, and policy. Academic programs are also reviewed through a process established by a Senate committee. Since decisions of departmental search committees, DPECs and FEAC are almost always supported by the administration, the faculty has substantial responsibility for ensuring its own quality.
Although the Senate successfully accomplishes its routine responsibilities, it has many longstanding problems. A critical defect is the lack of clarity as to how broadly or narrowly to define its charge as the legislative body for academic issues and policy. Because it is predominantly faculty, non-faculty constituencies accuse it of faculty bias and control when making decisions or policy recommendations that directly affect them. On the other hand, many important campus issues do not come to the Senate. An academic policy established by the Senate was temporarily suspended without Senate approval. Many faculty members view the Senate as irrelevant and primarily as an opportunity for relatively new junior faculty to fulfill College service expectations. The period of faculty work-to-rule at the beginning of the decade interrupted senior faculty participation on the Senate. Retirements and competing demands for College service have also contributed to dwindling numbers of senior faculty on the Senate. (There are one full, eight associate, and nine assistant professors on the current Senate.) Thus, senior faculty members are not proportionately represented and their absence renders the Senate a less effective faculty voice. Many faculty would prefer an all faculty Senate and some would like to see it more closely tied to the departmental structure to give senators a more natural constituency. Faculty members also complain about the amount of work necessitated by curriculum and program review processes.
On the positive side the Senate has tried to address some of these concerns. It has successfully managed a great deal of curriculum change and restored a regular program review process. Senate record keeping has improved, and there is better communication to the campus about changes approved by the Senate. Despite criticism, it has discussed broader campus issues. Academic policy issues have been discussed in faculty meetings prior to Senate deliberation so that faculty senators could better represent the faculty perspective. Senate representation on major campus committees has been restored and committee actions are reported to the Senate. There have been discussions between Senate leaders and the president about how to involve the Senate better as campus academic policy is developed. The Senate committees are continually working to streamline and clarify their procedures.
Although the faculty is clearly given the opportunity to affect policy and decisions at KSC, it has had difficulty achieving consensus on major issues such as general education. General discussions in faculty meetings and other open forums are not always constructive or productive. One problem is that the system has not fostered the development of clear, well-defined faculty leadership for non-contractual matters. The change from discipline coordinators to department chairs negotiated in the recent contract is an attempt to address this shortcoming. At this point, it is not fully clear how this change will impact other elements of the organizational structure, in particular the deans, whose role is directly affected by delegating increased authority to the chairs.
The process of change from discipline coordinators to department chairs provides an excellent example of some of our organization and governance structures working well together. A sense of dissatisfaction had developed among faculty and administrators over our system of coordinators, who provided a link between disciplines and deans, but lacked any real authority or even a clear mandate to speak for the discipline. At one point, a motion to establish chairs was sent to the Senate Executive Committee, which decided that the issue was clearly contractual in nature and forwarded the matter to the KSCEA Executive Board. The KSCEA and the administration both agreed that there was sufficient interest in exploring new options to establish a joint faculty/administration study committee prior to contract negotiations. The committee developed a proposal, which was discussed at a faculty meeting and department meetings. Faculty were supportive of parts of the proposal, but opposed other aspects, such as the evaluation of faculty by chairs. The union negotiation committee took that feedback and went forward with those portions of the proposal that enjoyed faculty support. Administration and faculty negotiators worked together within a mutual gains bargaining process to define the responsibilities and authority of the department chairs. The change was affirmed by the unanimous votes of faculty and trustees approving the contract.
A positive aspect of our organizational structure is the existence of elected bodies to represent the needs of different constituencies, including adjunct faculty. The president meets regularly with the faculty, operating staff, and professional, technical, and administrative staff. In some cases groups collaborate on issues of mutual concerns, e.g., personnel issues. The one constituency that lacks such a council is the non-status employee group, temporary employees who are not eligible for benefits. As a result, the Operating Staff Council is sometimes called on to deal with their issues, placing an added burden on that body. The administration has tried to deal with the issue of non-status employees in various ways. As a result of concerns raised at Speak Out!, non-status staff members working more than twenty hours per week for six months have been classified as "ancillary." Ancillary employees receive regular campus communications and invitations to community events. Since 1996, eighteen PAT and thirteen operating staff ancillary staff members have been moved into continuing positions.
The Adjunct Association and administration have worked together constructively to make modest improvements in salary and working conditions. The administration, however, has fought adjuncts' efforts to unionize, maintaining that they are temporary workers. In October 1999, the New Hampshire Public Employees Labor Relations Board ruled that adjuncts are part-time workers who have a right to unionize. The ruling was upheld on appeal. The Adjunct Association held an election on April 26 and the adjuncts voted to form a union with NEA-New Hampshire. The administration is still appealing the right of the adjuncts to form a union and has asked the state Supreme Court to review the Public Employees Labor Relations Board ruling. At present it is unclear what role adjunct faculty may play in campus governance. There have been some discussions, for example, of their voting in department decisions or acquiring representation in the Senate, but the reaction of full-time faculty to such initiatives remains unknown. Such issues cannot be resolved until the outcome of the adjuncts' attempt to unionize has been settled.
Through student government and membership on the Senate and campus committees, students are consistently afforded an opportunity to express their views and judgments on matters that affect them. This involvement not only serves the College, but also gives students an important way to build leadership skills. Those involved in student government are generally very positive about their work. They have worked primarily with student organizations and their needs and issues and have sought to foster an understanding of how their processes and procedures promote effective stewardship of student organizations. There is some frustration, however, when they are presented with issues they feel little authority to impact. They also feel a greater need for input from the general student body and are exploring some options. Student government is currently planning a thorough review of its constitutions.
Informally, at KSC we continually examine and modify our organization and governance structures in order to improve them. Examples include the organizational changes already mentioned, the addition of an operating staff representative to the Senate, the increase in faculty membership on the Senate, and the creation of new committees as needed. There is, however, a lack of any periodic, formal, systematic review of our organization and governance structures. Although changes in Senate membership, processes and bylaws have occurred, there has not been a general review of the Senate since its "new" structure and bylaws were established over ten years ago. A thorough review is overdue and will need to address issues such as its role, responsibilities, place in the organizational chart, relationship to other campus bodies, membership, campus image, and faculty participation. Individual administrators are regularly reviewed by their supervisors, but we lack a well-defined systematic opportunity for faculty, staff and students to provide input for those evaluations. Attempts to solicit such feedback have been infrequent and limited. There is also a concern among some on campus that evaluation of administrators has not always translated into accountability for such things as budget overruns and failure to complete personnel evaluations.Projection
We project that even as we continue to implement and assess recent changes, our organization and structures will continue to evolve. We look forward as well to the contributions that will be made by our new Vice President for Student Affairs and Associate Vice President for Finance. We expect that the administration will continue to rely on major committees such as Budget, Facilities Planning, CITC, and the College Assessment Committee to provide campus input and direction for key decisions.
Currently, there are discussions at the University System level of relinquishing some of the Board of Trustees' control over local decisions. We project that in the future USNH and the Board of Trustees will allow much greater flexibility and local decision-making with respect to individual budget lines and personnel decisions. Some decisions have already been made in this direction.
While it is easy to project that the move from discipline coordinators to department chairs will have a significant impact on KSC, it is difficult to predict what the ramifications will be. But as we gain more experience with department chairs at KSC, we will face a number of issues. These include defining the authority and responsibilities of the chair appropriately for KSC, reviewing the selection process and terms of office, clarifying the relationship between the chairs and other faculty institutions: Senate, KSCEA, and faculty meetings, and reassessing the role of the divisional deans. If the development of chairs leads to a significant redefinition of the dean's position, that could ultimately affect the current divisional structure as well.
With the formation of a union, the adjuncts plan to pursue collective bargaining in the near future. A critical issue related to organization and governance is the nature of the relationship that develops between the new adjunct union and the administration. One projection is that the adjuncts will be increasingly integrated into the campus organization and governance structures. The request for Senate representation, which has been on hold during unionization efforts, will most likely be considered again. Whatever the New Hampshire Supreme Court decides about the legality of the adjuncts' unionization, the College and the adjuncts have important issues that will need to be addressed.
The College is committed to a review of the Senate within the next two years. This review will require broad campus involvement and input. It is particularly critical that the review engage the entire faculty and address faculty concerns.
Following the review of student government which is currently underway, there may changes in its structure.