Shared Governance Decision Making
UTSA's executive leadership structure provides a clear process for campus planning, prioritization and decision making that reflects our core as an academic enterprise.
Academic Affairs embraces the benefits of representative and participatory shared governance and works in concert with the academic community in developing campus policies, practices and initiatives that support the common good for our university community in a manner consistent with this decision-making framework.
What is Shared Governance?
Shared governance is a central tenet of academic decision-making at UTSA, where the representation and participation of faculty, staff and students assures that academic quality is at the heart of the process. Faculty have a voice in academic policy, procedure and decisions, as authorized by state law, rules of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, UT System Regents’ Rules and Regulations, and UTSA procedures, through the Faculty Senate; department and school/college elected and appointed committees; standing committees; and other representative ad hoc advisory councils, such as initiative committees, task forces, tactical teams and similar bodies. Authority for decisions, however, vests in the Board of Regents, chancellor, and the president, where the president may delegate authority to other members of the university administration as allowed by state law and Regents’ Rules; and the authority rests only with individuals who are directly accountable for the decisions they make.
Academic Affairs fulfills the university’s mission by working diligently with the Faculty Senate, University Leadership Council, Department Chairs, and other standing and ad hoc university advisory committees to provide avenues for the voices of faculty, staff and students to be heard in the campus decision-making processes.
"Shared governance is not a simple matter of committee consensus, of the faculty’s engaging administrators to take on the dirty work, or any number of other common misconceptions. Shared governance is much more complex; it is a delicate balance between faculty and staff participation and decision-making processes, on the one hand, and administrative accountability on the other."
- excerpt from “Exactly What Is ‘Shared Governance’? by Gary Olson, The Chronicle of Higher Education
Participatory Shared Governance Process for University Matters
A faculty member has an idea for a new service to benefit students. She contacts her Faculty Senator. The Senator raises the issue with Faculty Senate and describes the idea more fully in the College Engagement Session with the Provost. The Faculty Senate Chair follows up on issue with the Provost in their monthly one-on-one meeting. The President and Provost agree to establish a representative ad hoc committee that includes faculty, staff and student stakeholders. The committee gathers information, ideas and sentiments from internal stakeholders (through surveys, open forums, college meetings, etc.), canvases other university practices, examines scholarly literature, and then evaluates through committee discussions, and ultimately uses all internal and external data to make recommendations for institutional actions. Based upon the recommendations by the representative committee, university administration (Deans, Vice Provosts, Provost, Vice Presidents) develop both an implementation plan and a plan for ongoing review to assess desired impact.
Participatory Shared Governance Process for Academic Matters
A faculty member has an idea for a new degree program and discusses it with their department colleagues and chair. There is majority support for the proposed new degree program. The Department Chair establishes a small working group of department faculty to develop the proposed new degree program. The department curriculum committee reviews the new degree program proposal. If approved by department curriculum committee, it is then submitted to the college curriculum committee for review. If approved, it is sent to the college Dean for review. Once the Dean approves, s/he should discuss the proposal with the appropriate Vice Provost (undergraduate or graduate) prior to being presented at Academic Council. The Dean then presents it at Academic Council where it is reviewed. If the proposal is supported by the Academic Council, the appropriate Vice Provost submits it to the Senate Curriculum Committee or Graduate Council to review. If approved by the Senate Curriculum Committee/Graduate Council, then it is reviewed by the entire Faculty Senate. The Faculty Senate votes on the proposed new degree program and, if approved, the Provost has final approval before it is submitted to UT System and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for approval. If at any step in the process the proposal is not approved, then it can be further iterated or discussed and re-submitted for review.
*Not all decisions go forward to Academic Council. In these cases, the decision is made by the college Dean.