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2016 Governance Retreat

By Suzanne Lazar, student, SUNY Empire State College; editor, The Student Connection

June 30, 2016

FeatureHave you ever wondered how decisions are made at the college that impact your role as a student?  SUNY Empire State College has a process called shared governance.  According to Gary Olsen in the Chronicle of Higher Education shared governance is “a delicate balance between faculty and staff participation in planning and decision-making processes, on the one hand, and administrative accountability on the other.”  One vital part of this process of shared governance is the Senate.  The Senate consists of co-chairs from each standing committee and a representative from each center at the college.

Each year the college hosts a Governance Retreat where all Senate members and standing committee members meet to discuss new projects and initiatives. Governance service affords representatives an opportunity to include the voices of all constituents in decisions that can enhance Empire State College’s ability to provide quality education. This means that everyone elected to membership in collegewide governance works diligently to share expertise and bring a wealth of experience to further the work and success of the college. 

Currently the standing committees are the Academic Personnel Committee (APC), Committee on Undergraduate Studies and Policies Committee (CUSP), Governance Operations and Review Committee (GORC), Graduate Studies and Policies Committee (GSPC), Integrated Technology Committee (ITC), Professional Personnel Committee (PPC), Student Affairs Committee (SAC), Support Staff Committee (SSC), and the Committee of Teaching and Mentoring Faculty (CTMF). In addition, the Program, Planning and Budget Committee (PPBC) advises the president on college planning and budget matters.  Several of these committees include student representatives: GSPC, ITC and SAC. 

During the two-day retreat, representatives attend a welcome session on shared governance and an orientation session. Each standing committee breaks out into meetings to meet new members, recap the previous projects and brainstorm ideas for new initiatives. Everyone attends a plenary and listens to the new agendas created by each committee and then senate members break out to meet, vote on new senate chairs and discuss the President’s Report. 

During the SAC meeting, members discussed plans and projects for the coming year, voted on policies to forward to the Senate and reviewed the work of the committees from the previous year.  In addition, we had the pleasure of a guest attendee, Provost Alfred Ntoko, who lent his voice and encouragement about the importance of student engagement.

Students come to SUNY Empire for a myriad of reasons.  Many adults choose this institution for the flexibility, emphasis given on adult learning and the ability to study at a distance as opposed to the traditional classroom environment.  But there is far more the college has to offer than studying online.

Engaging in student clubs, attending one of the two collegewide events held each year – the Student Academic Conference and Student Wellness Retreat - or becoming involved in committee are just a few ways students can engage and let their voices be heard.

The Student Affairs Committee is looking for students to become in involved in project teams as such peer to peer coaching, student leadership, student engagement, and community service initiatives. If you are interested in volunteering to serve on a project team, contact Danielle.Boardman@esc.edu

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2016 Governance Retreat, By Suzanne Lazar, student, SUNY Empire State College; editor, The Student Connection

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