In the autumn of 2004, then-President Nancy L. Zimpher and then-Faculty Senate Chair Dr. John Cuppoletti engaged in dialogue about the process of decision-making at the University of Cincinnati. The faculty identified of a number of perceived structural deficiencies within the organization and suggested that current structures did not seem to be consistent with the emerging strategic academic plan, UC|21, and its new emphasis on relationships, partnerships and opportunity-creating boundary-spanning activities. With the shared goal of achieving a healthy and vibrant 21st century urban research university, members of the university administration and the faculty senate embarked upon a lengthy and substantive review of existing university-wide committees and decision-making processes.
Following initial conversations, the Faculty Senate established an ad hoc Governance Committee. This committee reviewed existing university-wide committees and decision-making and communication pathways employed at the university and spent considerable time and energy discussing the successes and failures and the strengths and weaknesses of the current structures and processes. This committee submitted an interim report to President Zimpher and to the Faculty Senate in March 2005. In subsequent discussions with the president about the interim report, the committee agreed to conduct a review of the literature on shared governance and propose a new process model for shared governance.
The Faculty Senate ad hoc Governance Committee presented Recommendations for Shared Governance at the University of Cincinnati in October 2005. The report included definition, contractual provision, rationale, and principles of effective governance and proposed a model for shared governance between the faculty and administration.
To advance the effort to the next level, in February 2006, then-President Zimpher tasked an ad hoc work group composed of both faculty and administrators to:
- Review and integrate the various sets of data and recommendations submitted by the members of the President’s Cabinet and the Governance Committee of the Faculty Senate;
- Consider historical precedents and multiple perspectives about decision-making at UC;
- Propose a discrete set of all-university governance committees; and
- Propose a process for engaged decision-making that clearly articulates the flow from the all-university governance committees to the president and Board of Trustees.
The ad hoc group met through the summer of 2006 and organized their work around three basic questions: What would the decision-making process look like? How broadly will governance be shared? What would a structure aligned with the premises and values of UC|21 look like?
Proposals contained in the Report and Recommendations from the ad hoc Work Group on Improving Decision-Making, Engagement and Communications at UC (August 17, 2006) were considered by members of the Executive Committee of the President’s Cabinet and integrated and aligned with other governance and organizational developments that evolved throughout the fall of 2006.
By the beginning of Winter Quarter, 2007, the president and Executive Committee were ready to propose the framework for integrated policy decision-making at the University of Cincinnati that follows.