The University of California's statewide Academic Senate has decided to undertake an extensive review of its structure, operations, and effectiveness as a partner in UC's system of shared governance. The review stands to be the most far-reaching self-examination the Senate has carried out since the early 1960s, when it was organized into its current form.
"I think the time has come for the Senate to take a look at all the major aspects of its structure and operations," said Academic Council Chair Duncan Mellichamp, who developed the proposal for the review. "The Senate configuration we have is more than 30 years old; we need to make sure that it is up to the task of dealing with the problems that now confront the University."
Mellichamp's review proposal was unanimously approved by the Academic Council at its November meeting. The proposal calls for the formation of a Senate Task Force on Governance that will be divided into three panels with overlapping membership. One panel will be charged with evaluating the structure of the universitywide Senate, another with a review of the operations and funding of the campus and universitywide Senate offices, and a third with reviewing shared governance.
These task force panels, the Council decided, should have on them not only experienced Senate faculty -- present and former divisional chairs, for example -- but faculty at "mid-career or younger." These faculty, in the words of the task force proposal, will bring to bear "the perspective of those who have a long-term stake in the future of the University." Mellichamp said he also expects to ask administrators and UC Regents to serve as consultants to the task force.
The work of all three panels is scheduled to be completed in stages next spring and summer. The timing of the review of shared governance is of particular importance, since depending on the report received -- and the response of the UC Regents to it -- the Berkeley Senate may hold a vote on whether to censure the Regents. (See related story, page 2.) The panel's general charge is to examine "the specific steps which the Senate can take to build working relationships with both the Administration and the Regents within the framework of shared governance." Beyond this, it is being asked to develop a resolution on shared governance that can be endorsed by the Senate, the Regents and the administration.
The panel on organization and operations is to report on "the degree to which the Senate's current structure facilitates or impedes Senate work." The group is to examine the relationship of universitywide Senate committees to both their divisional counterparts and to the Academic Council. It also will look at the relationship between the Council and the Universitywide Assembly.
The task force's third panel will examine the organization, operations and budgeting of both the campus and systemwide Senate offices. The panel will review the responsibilities of the offices, their staffing needs, and the adequacy of their resources. The group is charged with examining the benefits of having divisional Senate offices funded by campuses, as opposed to UCOP.
Council Chair Mellichamp and Vice Chair Sandra Weiss currently are drawing up lists of faculty who will be asked to serve on the task force. Mellichamp said he hopes to have all the groups up and running by February.