Charge to the Shared Governance Task Force

Members listed alphabetically by campus and alphabetically by last name on each campus 

Florham Campus 

  • Dr. Patricia (“Trish”) Melloy, Professor of Biology, Becton College, Incoming President of the Faculty Senate (Faculty)  
  • Ms. Natalie Van, Junior Majoring in Criminology, Member of Student Government at Florham (Student) 
  • Ms. Karen Stecher, Specialist in Learning Disabilities (Staff)

Metro Campus 

  • Dr. Alexander (“Alex”) Casti, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Gildart Haase School (Faculty)  
  • Ms. Suleima Mestanza, Student majoring in Biology, President of Student Government at Teaneck (Student) 
  • Ms. Anita Rivers, Executive Director for Community Relations (Staff)  

Vancouver Campus 

  • Dr. Constance (“Connie”) Bygrave, Associate Professor of Administrative Science, School of Public and Global Affairs (Faculty) 
  • Mr. Parsa Mokari, Undergraduate student studying business information technology (Student)  
  • Ms. Arlette Hernandez Pulido, Director of Enrollment Services (Staff)

Ex Officio Administrators 

  • Dr. Benjamin (“Ben”) Rifkin, Interim University Provost & Senior VP for Academic Affairs (Admin)  
  • Ms. Vanessa Perez, Director of Academic Affairs (Admin)  

Administrative Support 

  • Ms. Isabel Comp (Staff)


As part of the periodic reaccreditation process that Fairleigh Dickinson University undergoes as an institutional member of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the University examines its own processes, practices, policies, systems, structures, and student learning outcomes. As part of that self-examination in 2023-2024, FDU will review its shared governance structure, a structure last reviewed and updated in 1999.  The Interim University Provost, leading this effort, reached out to the leadership of the Faculty Senate, the Professional and Administrative Staff Senate, and the Student Governments of each campus, where they exist. Each of these organizations named individuals to participate in this task force.  All three faculty members of the Task Force were named by the Faculty Senate. The NJ-based staff members were named by the Professional and Administrative Staff Senate.  The NJ-based students were named by the two campuses’ student organizations.  The staff member and student from Vancouver were nominated by administrators in Vancouver.  All the members of the task force have agreed to serve. 

The Charge 

The Shared Governance Task Force, convened by the Interim University Provost, will review the existing structures and systems of shared governance at Fairleigh Dickinson University and compare analogous structures and systems at other institutions and in the research literature on shared governance in higher education to answer the following questions: 

  1. Does FDU’s existing shared governance provide faculty, students, and staff opportunities to contribute to the creation and implementation of new policies and practices and the revision of existing policies and practices? In other words, does FDU’s existing shared governance allow the voices of individuals in all three stakeholder groups to be heard? 
  2. Does FDU’s existing shared governance meet the needs of our University community in the 21st century? 
  3. Does FDU’s existing shared governance reflect the latest research and best practices in shared governance in higher education? 
  4. If the answer to one or more of the above three questions is “no,” then the Shared Governance Task Force is charged with developing and proposing a new model of shared governance to be proposed to faculty, staff, students, and administration at all three degree-granting campuses for stakeholders of each group and on each campus prior to proposing the new model of shared governance to the President and his cabinet and to the University’s Board of Trustees. Such a model must have an explicit statement of the principles and values on which it is built (for instance, Inclusiveness, Transparency, Consultation, and any other ideas).

Not to Be Considered in This Process 

The following topics and issues are defined in the Faculty Handbook and are not up for discussion in the work of the Shared Governance Task Force.  The University’s faculty may choose to review these topics and issues in the Faculty Senate, but they are not relevant to the larger shared governance discussion to be undertaken by this task force. 

  • Definition of the University Faculty 
  • Composition, Purposes, Functions, Jurisdiction of the Faculty Senate, Selection of Its Officers, Meetings, Bylaws, and Committees 
  • Organization, Structures, Bylaws of the Colleges, Schools, Academic Departments, Academic Programs 
  • The Hiring of Faculty 
  • Faculty Status Review (reappointment, tenure, and promotion) 
  • Faculty Dismissal 
  • Faculty Grievance Procedures 
  • Faculty Workload 
  • Faculty Research and Travel 
  • Faculty Rights and Responsibilities 
  • Faculty Benefits 
  • Evaluation of Academic Administrators

All the bulleted items above are described in the Faculty Handbook. 

Our Process 

The Shared Governance Task Force will receive its charge (this document) at a meeting in late July and will begin meeting regularly (once every two or three weeks) in the fall semester at a regularly scheduled time, with a draft list of agenda topics appended below. 

Our discussions are strictly confidentialHowever, you are encouraged to ask questions of the people (faculty, staff, students) with whom they interact on their respective campuses if doing so will be helpful to inform you about questions we are considering. If the Task Force decides to propose a new model of shared governance, task force members will be expected to participate in presenting the new model on their respective campuses, to answer questions of community members about the new model, and to participate in Task Force discussions of feedback provided by the community. 

If the Shared Governance Task Force decides to develop and propose a new model of shared governance, our goal is to have community-wide meetings about the model in the period from December 1, 2023 through February 15, 2024, then to review and revise the model and propose it to President Avaltroni by February 29, 2024 so that he may discuss with the Board of Trustees.  If the new model is approved at the Board’s March 2024 meeting, any elections or appointments of faculty, staff, and students to newly created governance bodies can happen in April 2024 so that the newly created governance bodies can be convened in September 2024. 

The University Community will receive a survey in the Fall 2023 semester with the following questions: 

Respond to these questions on the scale of  

1 = Strongly Disagree 

3 = Neither Agree nor Disagree 

5 = Strongly Agree 


  1. I understand how new policies are created at FDU. 
  2. I understand how existing policies are revised at FDU. 
  3. I am consulted on the creation of new policies at FDU that are relevant to my work or studies. 
  4. I am consulted on the revision of existing policies at FDU that are relevant to my work or studies. 
  5. People in my FDU group (faculty, students, or staff) have a voice in the shaping of policies at FDU.

Our Task Force will receive data on the responses to these questions, broken down by stakeholder group (faculty, students, staff) and campus. 

Tentative List of Topics to Be Discussed at Meetings

(Numbered in Sequence, not by Date) 

  1. Goals and Core Principles of Shared Governance, Assessment of Shared Governance at FDU, Best Practices of Shared Governance (Discussion of Readings) 
  2. Do we recommend revision of Shared Governance at FDU?  If yes, commence to following topics.  If no, the Task Force formalizes its recommendation not to revise FDU’s Shared Governance in a memo to the President and the leadership of Faculty Senate, PAS Senate, and Student Governments, and disbands.

Following Topics and Meetings only if the Task Force decides to propose a revised structure of shared governance: 

  1. Distribution of Functions in Each Category of Decision-Making (Decide, Recommend, Consult, etc.: Consider Exhibit 9 on p. 93 of Bahls, the book you’ve been sent 
  2. Inter-Constituency Collaboration As an Embedded Feature of Shared Governance 
  3. Aligning Councils or Committees with Topic Areas 
  4. Amendment Process and Periodic Review 
  5. Plan for Consultation with Stakeholders about the Proposed Model 
  6. Completion and Submission of Proposal 

Readings about Shared Governance 

A folder on OneDrive for the Task Force has been created and members of the Shared Governance Task Force will receive an email link to the folder. If you discover anything you think should be shared with the Task Force, please send it to Isabel Comp who will post it to the folder. 

For our first meeting in the fall, please read the following (all in the SGTF Folder): 

  • AAUP (American Association of University Professors) “Statement on Shared Governance” from 1966 
  • “Neglected Links in Shared Governance” (article from “HigherEdJobs”) 
  • “Report on the (FDU) President’s Task Force on Institutional Governance (TFIG) Report” from 1999

Please also review the shared governance websites of these institutions, both of which won awards for excellence in Shared Governance from the AAUP: 

You may wish to look at other universities’ shared governance websites, including those listed in a document in our reading folder.  If you find a university’s shared governance website that is not already on the list of award recipients and think it would be useful to share with the Task Force, please notify Isabel Comp who will add the site to the list and alert all SGTF members accordingly. 

Last, but not least, each member of our Task Force will receive a copy of this book: Shared Governance for Agile Institutions by Steven C. Bahls, published by the Association of Governing Boards 

In that book, please read the following sections before our first meeting in the fall: 

  1. 5-17 (Chapter 1)
  2. 79-105 (Chapter 6), especially Exhibit 9 on p. 93

Our first meeting will be on Tuesday, September 5 from 3:30 to 5:30 pm on Zoom.