From the President

Shared Governance Task Force—November 5, 2020

The following message was sent to Students, Faculty, and Staff on November 5, 2020.

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

As you may know, we are beginning the work of developing more effective and transparent shared governance across our constituencies. As an institution, we have long been aware that our governance structures and practices can be inefficient and unclear. The reaccreditation report from NECHE agreed with this assessment and identified it as an area that, if improved, would strengthen the quality of the student experience and the work of students, faculty, board, and staff alike.

For those of you who may be new to this topic, shared governance is the process by which various constituents contribute to decision making related to college policy and procedure. When done well, shared governance strengthens the quality of leadership and decision making at an institution, enhances its ability to achieve its vision and to meet strategic goals, and ensures that the very best thinking by all parties to shared governance is brought to bear on institutional challenges. Sound shared governance also engenders a culture of collective ownership and accountability for the institution’s present and future. Further, when faculty, administrators, staff, students, and boards are actively and collaboratively involved in decision-making processes, decisions are implemented more quickly and more effectively.

To facilitate this important work, we have retained Dr. David Maxwell of The Association of Governing Boards (AGB) Consulting, who brings vast experience with liberal arts colleges. Dr. Maxwell served as president of Drake University from 1999-2015 and is the current chair of the Grinnell College Board of Trustees. He will work closely with a task force of trustees, staff, faculty, and students to develop a set of governance recommendations for our community going forward. Our next step will be to send out a survey to collect your thoughts, insights, and perspectives on shared governance, which you will all receive shortly. Following that, we will have an open call for each constituency to nominate or self nominate volunteers to serve on this important task force. We will also hold four faculty workshops between now and the end of the calendar year; more information on those sessions will be forthcoming.

We look forward to leveraging Bennington’s unique culture and tradition of close community, creativity, risk taking, innovation, and accountability while working together on this important project.


Laura Walker