Overview of Shared Governance and Consultation
The Academic Senate is one of the distinctive organizational elements of the University of California – a feature that distinguishes it from other major research universities. Codified by the UC Regents in 1920, the Academic Senate is the vehicle through which faculty share in the operation and management of the university. UCLA’s contemporary practice of consultative decision making and shared governance reinforces the notion that faculty are at the heart of the academic enterprise of teaching, research, and public service and critical to maintaining the quality of the university’s academic programs. Read more about the Academic Senate here.
Per Bylaw 40.1, the Regents have delegated to the faculty, through the agency of the Academic Senate, authority over the conditions for admissions and for approving and supervising curriculum (courses and programs), as well as a formal advisory role for budget, academic resources, and faculty personnel actions. In general, development of major changes in policy or practice that affect faculty occurs in consultation with the faculty. Consultation increases the likelihood that well-intentioned policies do not have unintended consequences.
Consultation is a key component of shared governance. In fulfillment of its role in shared governance, and per Bylaw 40.1, the Los Angeles Division reviews and comments on campus and systemwide items. Consultation is central to the deliberative processes of strengthening proposals for new degree programs, academic units, administrative policies, etc.
The content below describes the Consultation process for non-routine Los Angeles Divisional business:
Items that, by authority of the Bylaws of the Los Angeles Division, fall under the charge of a standing committee and its established procedures. For example, undergraduate program reviews are always under the authority of the Undergraduate Council; a new graduate degree program proposal is always under the authority of the Graduate Council. Such routine business items do not need to pass through the Senate office for processing. Visit Academic Program Proposals for further information.
Items that do not meet the above criteria and are typically outside requests seeking Senate advice on, review of, or approval of an item. Examples include proposed changes in the Academic Personnel Manual; major changes in budgeting or new initiatives with significant budgetary impact; proposed changes to university or campus policies; and more.
What is Consultation?
Consultation is a formal process that involves:
-A written request to comment on a written proposal (see below for how to consult at an early, pre-proposal stage). The request is for an opinion that may change a proposal rather than simply to inform the Senate.
-A written response.
-Due attention to Senate process and protocol.What Stage of my Proposal Needs Consultation?
What is a "Request for Consultation" (RFC)?
- Through the Request for Consultation (RFC) process, the Los Angeles Division reviews and comments on campus and systemwide items. Sometimes the Los Angeles Division has authority to approve or deny an item (such as a new major or minor), and sometimes it offers advice. If the request does not come with sufficient time for review or a real possibility of incorporating changes, or if the subject matter is determined not to be well fitted with the Academic Senate’s authority or advisory roles, the Division may decline to opine.
Requests for consultation include the following elements:
-The problem, challenge, or opportunity that the proposal seeks to address;
-How addressing it helps meet unit or campus strategic needs; and,
-The process through which the proposal was developed (discussions, resources, research, etc.).
How do I submit an RFC?
Please email your request to the Chair of the Los Angeles Division at firstname.lastname@example.org and copy the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Division, Dr. April de Stefano, at email@example.com. Your request should include all relevant material including documentation of the problem, challenge, or opportunity that the proposal seeks to address; how addressing it helps meet unit or campus strategic needs; and, the process through which the proposal was developed (e.g., discussions, resources, research, etc.). For early-stage consultation, please email a written explanation, including the issue, its context, possible approaches, and clarification that you request early-stage consultation, to the same addresses.
If you are unsure about what to submit or unsure if your item needs to go through a Los Angeles Division consultation, please reach out to us.
How long does the RFC process take?
Note: All timelines are formulated and communicated on a case-by-case basis. Below are general guidelines.
Within two weeks of receiving your request, the Senate office will respond with a timeline for consultation. While timelines vary depending on the time of the academic year and the workload of Senate committees, in general consultations will follow an eight-week timeline (beginning when the Senate office releases your request to committees). Committees have six weeks to opine, and the Los Angeles Division has two weeks to compose a formal response to your request. On occasion, if it is determined that only one or two specific committees need to opine on your request, the consultation process may proceed more quickly. At times, the Los Angeles Division must focus on items of high priority and hold non-urgent business. If this occurs, the Senate office will notify you.
Because committees need adequate time to meet and opine on your item, sometimes they will not begin their review of your request until the following quarter. For example, if you submit a request at the beginning of March (which is near the end of winter quarter), the Senate office may not release your items for committee review until the beginning of spring quarter (late March/early April), which will add to your overall timeline. Please keep this in mind during your planning process.
Early-stage consultations may follow less formal steps
Consultation may occur during more than one stage of a process. Consultation at the early, ideas stage can be undertaken even though a full written proposal may not be warranted or available at that time. For major campus initiatives it is advisable for Administrators to err on the side of consulting the Senate early in the development of an idea, when Senate input can shape the initiative, and again once when a formal proposal is ready for review. The process and parameters for early-stage consultation should be established on a case-by-case basis.
In all cases, consultation requests and responses come from groups or individuals with clearly articulated authorities. Importantly, Senate consultation is distinct from everyday meanings of consultation, such as “I’ve talked to this person who is involved with this.” While informal conversations can (and should) inform the development of policies and programs, they do not constitute Senate consultation.
Ultimately, our processes work best when they involve a combination of informal conversations (e.g., regular meetings of Senate leadership with administrators) and formal consultation (i.e., the review of written proposals with a written response).
Conversation: Effective shared governance requires ongoing communication between the faculty (through the Senate) and the administration. At the campus and system level, regular meetings between Senate leadership and Administrative leadership allow participants to think collaboratively about potential approaches to challenges and issues. They also afford opportunities to share emerging plans or concerns and, thus, to avoid surprises. Such collaborative discussions may also take place in the context of regular committee meetings. In all cases, these conversations recognize that the different roles and responsibilities of faculty and administrators provide each with useful and important perspectives on policy and practice. At its best, shared governance integrates both perspectives.
Consultation: At the point that a specific policy or recommendation is necessary, as with any other consultation process, Administration provides a written proposal for consideration, and the Academic Senate issues a written response. If consultation early in the process is beneficial, the written “proposal” at that stage may consist of a less developed summary of the issues and their context.
Informal Conversation: There are many occasions when faculty are working on proposals for programs that have an impact in some way on another program. Programs may partly overlap, or one program may count on the resources of another.
In these situations, it is advisable to have informal conversations as proposals are developed. These conversations provide valuable advice, but they are most often between individuals. As is the case for all Senate matters, individuals cannot speak for their groups/committees without endorsement. Conversation does not constitute consultation.
Consultation: Once a proposal is complete, consultation, as outlined in relevant Senate and administrative policies, creates a process for a formal review by a faculty or a committee and associated written response.