Forming and Formalizing SCARP Decisions
How we make and formalize decisions in SCARP is one item on a full agenda addressing many very important issues that need timely action. I therefore thought it might be useful to outline in advance the actions I would recommend be considered.
To my knowledge SCARP has not addressed the question of how it makes and formalizes its decisions since I became Director in 1999. In the immediately preceding years there had been strongly differing views among some of the faculty and the actions of some individuals were extremely divisive. It was for these reasons that I outlined in my letter of application with my vision of “collaborative leadership and working together”
When I became Director this vision was implemented in a variety of ways including expanding the people involved in forming decisions through extensive use of committees/task forces and articulation of how we would make decisions through consensus building processes whenever possible and reserving voting to when it is required (e.g. tenure and promotion recommendations). Anticipating that consensus would not always be possible I was explicit about how I would make and be accountable for decisions when there was not a consensus and action was needed. Voting was one possible fall-back to be used when needed. My first annual Directors report to the School in April 2000 summarized how we had moved forward in putting this vision for the Directorship into practice
From my perspective I believe the decision forming and formalizing processes have generally served us very well. They have worked best when we have taken care to put them into practice faithfully and have broken down when we neglect key principles and elements, which include the following:
- creating opportunity for differing views to be heard and considered from the beginning;
- providing opportunities for faculty, adjunct, staff, student and alumni input as appropriate to the issue;
- building consensus whenever possible and taking more time when merited;
- ensuring clarity on the final proposal or question voted on and keeping a record of outcomes;
- acknowledging that the faculty members are ultimately responsible for formalizing decisions;
- recognizing that the Director will sometimes need to act in ways that are not acceptable to all faculty but needs to be accountable for such actions.
I recommend that faculty members re-affirm their commitment to principles and procedures adopted in the past and that these be re-established in writing so that they are clearly understood and faithfully followed in forming and formalizing decisions going forward.