Thinking about shared governance

Every organization has its structure and process for determining how decisions are made. Businesses have CEOs, boards of directors and stockholders. Not-for-profit organizations have executive directors, boards and volunteers. Some businesses have different models, such as Starbucks with the employees actually owning the business.

Universities have a range or approaches to decisions and determining who really is in charge. In Florida, the legislature is in charge of some decisions. The Governor makes some decisions — or at least heavily influences some decisions. The board of governors is in charge of other university-system-wide decisions. Each of the 11 state universities has a board of trustees, appointed by the Governor. 

At the University of Florida, the board of trustees provides oversight to the president and provost. We have a University Senate and the United Faculty of Florida. Then every college has its approach to decision making.

The College of Journalism and Communications is in the midst of developing a new constitution. Certainly this process has been a lesson in civics, organizational structures, teamwork, compromise and diplomacy. This week the Constitution Committee and the Senate meet to discuss the constitution and then take that discussion to each department’s meeting. 

A constitution can seem like an abstract document. But when it comes to many of the key decisions for a country or an organization, the constitution can provide guiding principles and rules. 

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