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.