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Principles of Effective Governance

This proposed framework for integrated policy decision-making respects the principles for effective governance as outlined by the Faculty Senate ad hoc Governance Committee in their report, Recommendations for Shared Governance at the University of Cincinnati (October 2005, p. 5). The report recommended that governance of the University of Cincinnati should adhere to the following principles:

Legitimate. Governance should be—and should be perceived as being—legitimate. A system of shared governance must meet three conditions to achieve legitimacy: First, faculty in positions to participate in decision-making must gain those positions through legitimate means, generally through election by their peers or through selection based on their expertise or on their representation of important constituencies. Second, faculty and administrators must have the same access to information necessary for informed deliberation. Third, both faculty and administrators’ influence on decision-making must be real; any perception that the real decisions are being scripted beforehand by any participants in the process will undercut legitimacy.

Transparent. Virtually all processes and products of governance should be transparent. The university should frame issues of governance clearly and completely and in a useful and timely manner such that all affected constituencies have the opportunity to be informed and to be heard before decisions are made. Once decisions are made, their rationales should be articulated clearly for a diverse public audience and the group or individuals responsible for the decisions should be clearly identified.

Accountable. Those people responsible for making governance decisions—both faculty and administrators—should be accountable to the university and its constituents. Such accountability should be tailored to fit the identity and purposes of the individual units to which it applies.

Flexible. The structure and processes of governance should be flexible, permitting the university to move nimbly in a rapidly changing environment. Generally, few standing committees should exist; instead, workgroups should convene only as necessary to achieve specific goals and then dissolve.

Inclusive. Those people making decisions should include representatives of the stakeholders affected by the decisions being made. For their inclusion to be meaningful, their roles, rights and responsibilities in decision making should be clearly articulated.

Aligned with Mission. Decision-making should seek to align policies and outcomes with the university’s mission. To do so, those people with the authority to influence decisions must place institutional interests ahead of self-interest and must favor long-term over short-term institutional benefits.