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Otis College is committed to maintaining a robust system of Shared Governance.

This webpage brings together many resources on the subject, including:

What is Shared Governance?

Shared governance is the process by which various constituents contribute to decision-making related to college policy and procedure. When done well, shared governance enhances an institution’s ability to achieve its mission and strategic goals by strengthening the quality of leadership and deeply informing institutional decisions. Effective shared governance also engenders an institutional culture of collective ownership and accountability for the institution’s present and future.

The 2019-20 Task Force on Shared Governance

Following the disruptive situation of Otis’s spring 2019 leadership change, the Board of Trustees Charged by Resolution the Interim President and Interim Provost to form a Task Force to review, clarify, bolster, and make readily visible its robust system of Shared Governance. The Task Force on Shared Governance included individuals representing the three main branches of shared governance and staff, as follows:

  • Chair, Faculty Senate—Rachel Roske
  • Rising/Admin. Co-Chair, Academic Assembly—Alex Slade
  • Senior/Faculty Co-Chair, Academic Assembly—Silas Munro
  • Associate Provost for Assessment and Accreditation—Debra Ballard
  • Vice President, Human Resources and Development—Karen Hill
  • Chair, Board of Trustees—Mei-Lee Ney
  • Interim Provost and Chief Academic Officer (Co-Chair)—Kim Russo
  • Interim President and Chief Executive Officer (Co-Chair)—Randy Lavender

Why is Shared Governance Important?

The Task Force began its work with an examination of the purpose and value of Shared Governance in higher education:


The Task Force reviewed as part of its work several external resources to learn of comparable schools' processes and systems, and of how the literature on shared governance in higher education today can help to clarify and refine Otis's system.

Numerous internal resources were also reviewed, and helped the Task Force understand its formation, charge, and how much shared governance currently functions at Otis:

Overview, Visual Guide, Statement, and FAQs

These reviews, and much thoughtful discussion over the fall and spring of 2019-20, made possible the development of a Visual Guide to key tenets, distinctions to remember, cycles and sequences and the below overview of the system’s working elements, and how they interrelate. This presentation later allowed the creation of a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Finally, a Statement on Shared Governance was formed, recommended to the Board of Trustees, and adopted by Board Resolution on April 8, 2020. 


Read the Visual Guide to Shared Governance
Download the Visual Guide to Shared Governance

visual guide

Key Concepts and Helpful Reminders


The Task Force's work revealed several key distinctions that can help all at Otis avoid conflating things that are fundamentally different. For example, the distinction between a situation (such as the unique and extremely rare one that occured in spring 2019) and a system (such as all that has evolved and grown at Otis over several decades as its system of shared governance):

In addition to identifying and noting several key distinctions, the Task Force codified a driving principle and key tenet of shared governance--regular, ongoing, ad hoc, and standing conferral:


As of spring 2020, many standing and ad hoc Conferral Groups provide input and recommendations to inform institutional decisions.

With sufficient conferral in place to ensure needed expert input on matters requiring attention, the three main branches of shared governance can make properly informed decisions, and communicate clearly about those, and their basis, with the campus community:


In contemplating or recognizing matters or issues calling for or warranting institutional decision-making, Academic Assembly, Institutional Leadership and the Board follow basic cycles and sequences to learn, synthesize information toward possible solutions, make well-informed decisions, and close loops through clear communications:  

cycle and sequence

The Statement on Shared Governance

The Board formally adopted the Statement on Shared Governance by Resolution on April 8, 2020.

Read the Statement on Shared Governance 
Download the Statement on Shared Governance 

Excerpts from the Statement on Shared Governance

Major Tenets

Each group or body (faculty, administration, staff, trustees, etc.) within the College community has a defined role and set of responsibilities intended to effectively support the institution’s mission and to ensure its fiscal health and sustainability. Shared governance is achieved when these responsibilities are carried out in a manner consistent with four major tenets:

     • mutual respect, which can foster trust;
     • recognition that groups’ areas of responsibility and/or authority are clearly defined, yet interrelated;
     • clear ongoing and timely communication with each other and with the larger campus community to close loops and share the basis for decisions; and
     • making readily visible relevant institutional priorities, policies, and procedures.

The Importance of Clear, Ongoing Communication

The College’s Academic branch (Academic Leaders, Academic Assembly, and Faculty Senate) and Institutional Management branch (Senior Leadership) regularly confer with standing Conferral Groups/Committees (Students’ Union, Diversity/Equity/Inclusion Council, etc.) to inform institutional decisions. The President and Senior Leadership regularly confer with the College’s Fiduciary branch (Board of Trustees) for input, and vice versa. The goal of conferral is to synthesize (thoughtful consideration and analysis) input toward sound decisions for the College’s future and direction (consistent with its strategic plan), and clearly communicate with the campus community to ensure both well-informed institutional decision-making and fitting transparency for an aligned, productive community.

With the tenets in place and fitting transparency at work, trust can evolve and propel even better decision-making and alignment within the campus community and with the Board.

Read the full Statement . . .

Campus Resources on Shared Governance

See also the Dashboard for more related resources (login required)

Frequently Asked Questions

  • The 2019-20 Task Force on Shared Governance heard many questions, and devleoped an FAQ guide to help address them:
    Frequently Asked Questions

Academic Governance

Institutional Management

Fiduciary Oversight

Input Gathering and Ongoing Conferral

Student Voice

A Compelling Example of Shared Governance at Work

strat plan

One example of Otis's shared governance system's emphasis on conferral, input gathering, deep synthesis of information from many sources, solution-building, feedback-seeking, and loop-closing communication is visible in the processes leading to and in the resulting 2019 - 24 Working Strategic Plan and Mission Refresh. This institutional plan was formed on a base of very broad, comprehensive, and deep input from many campus constituencies, and involved much synthesis if information gathered, and numerous feedback and revision cycles to ensure broad participation, contributions, and vetting.

2019 - 2024 Working Strategic Plan and Mission Refresh--Internal (for college use)
2019 - 2024 Working Strategis Plan and Mission Refresh--External (for public use)