The following article is adapted from a 1994 article in PODIUM by Tony Snyder, Professor of History, and Ron Sopenoff, Professor of Criminal Justice.
The seeds for current system of college governance were planted in 1989 when a small group of faculty, led by Tony Snyder and Ron Sopenoff, began to meet to discuss reforms in which faculty would have a greater role in the academic agenda of the college. The 1989 Middle States Evaluation Report criticized Brookdale’s governance structure for its limited role and for its lack of representation from the various constituencies of the college. A Governance Commission was created to create a new structure and the work was completed in 1990. The Commission was given the charge of creating a structure that would enhance the role of the faculty and administrators in academic matters and examine the part that staff and students might play in College governance. The new structure was based on the following principles:
1. PARTICIPATION – a decision-making process in which those affected by a College policy and related procedures participate in the making of those policies and procedures.
2. RESPONSIBILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY – those who are directly affected by or responsible for implementing policy are involved in the formulation of the policy from beginning to end.
3. COMMUNICATION – open and honest communication between and among the members and constituencies of the College community; policy-making outside the governance structure would be eliminated.
The Commission determined that the adversarial and isolated nature of decision making, which was much too common in the past, would be replaced by a system where each constituency at the College (faculty, administration, staff, and students) would have the opportunity as well as the responsibility to play a key role in cooperatively recommending College-wide policies and procedures which affect them.
The following structure was recommended to the College community and to the president in the summer of 1990:
1. COLLEGE FORUM: Open to all members of the college community, the Chair of the Forum, in consultation with the Steering Committee, will set the agenda for each meeting and will determine which constituencies may vote on which issues. Open debate and discussion on any issue of College-wide concern is encouraged.
2. THE STEERING COMMITTEE: This ten-member committee, with representatives from the faculty, administration, staff, and students, will not make policy, but will direct the day-to-day operation of the governance structure. It will decide which issues are sent to which parties or committees and will set time frames for deliberation and decision. It may establish ad hoc committees for those matters which do not fall under the jurisdiction of one of the existing standing committees.
3. THE STANDING COMMITTEES: There are only six standing committees – Academic Council, Academic Standards, College Life, Institutional Planning and Assessment, Professional Development, and Student Development.
4.PERMANENT COLLEGE-WIDE COMMITTEES: There are also college-wide committees that have representation on one or more standing committees but do not receive charges from the Steering Committee. Examples are Basic Skills, Diversity Council, General Education, and Honors.
5. RECOMMENDATION STATUS: The governance system does not make final policy, but rather recommends to the president of the College, who, with the approval of the Board of Trustees, implements those policies. It is desirable that the president use the governance system to aid in the formulation and dissemination of college-wide policies that originate from his or the Board’s office in keeping with the spirit of participatory governance.