Faculty Liaisons to the Board of Trustees
As a Quaker college, we strive to listen deeply to all voices. At the heart of our decision-making process is an inclusive approach that discerns the way forward after hearing all perspectives. Earlham faculty and staff have a significant stake in board decisions, and they have important insight and perspectives to offer on key strategic issues to which the Board should be attuned. Listening directly to faculty and staff perspectives in its deliberations may strengthen the Board’s decisions, build trust, help avoid misperceptions, and lead to a better-aligned organization.
In a shared governance model, teaching and administrative faculty have the lead role in shaping the curriculum and supporting students on campus. The trustees, on the other hand, hold the financial and strategic responsibility. During times of change and challenge it is important that both constituents fully understand each other’s motivations and rationale for decisions.
Having faculty and hourly staff representatives observe the Board Meeting and report back to the campus has long been the practice for interaction. But it has become clear that there is a need to reevaluate and improve on that process. To that end, we have had extensive conversation among the Board, faculty and administration over the past several years on how to build a model that can best facilitate collaboration. After much listening and discussion, the Nominating and Governance Committee now makes the following recommendation to broaden and improve our collaborative process:
- The Clerk of the Faculty, and three additional members of the Earlham College teaching or administrative faculty will serve as liaisons to Board Committees.
- In addition, the Clerk of the Faculty and one of the Earlham College faculty Board liaisons will also serve as observers of the Board Meeting. One member of the ESR teaching faculty, and one member of the Earlham College hourly staff will serve as liaisons to Board Committees and observers of the Board Meeting. Two students will continue to serve as observers of the Board Meeting.
The above-stated process replaces the previous system of having two faculty, one hourly staff and two students serve as Board observers.
The Nominating and Governance Committee will accept nominations from the College’s Nominating Committee, the Employee Council, and the Dean of ESR for these positions. Nominated individuals should have experience or expertise relevant to a Board committee. For the three teaching and administrative faculty positions (other than the Clerk), the Board will consider nominations approved through the regular nominating process in faculty meeting. The Board Governance and Nominating Committee reserves the right to give final approval of nominated liaisons.
Board liaisons are invited to attend the Opening Session of the Board Meeting and will each be assigned, based on their experience and expertise, to attend two of the following committee meetings (one that meets in the morning and one that meets in the afternoon): Academic Affairs, Property and Finance, ESR, Institutional Advancement, Enrollment and Marketing, and Campus and Community Life.
- Board liaisons will not participate in the Executive Sessions (unless by invitation). Board liaisons will not participate in decisions, but will have access to the same pre-meeting committee materials as trustee committee members, except for materials pre-designated for executive session. In cases where committees need to consider a confidential issue, the board liaisons will be excused from the meeting.
- Board liaisons will not publicly discuss or report on committee meetings, and it is expected that sensitive discussions will be treated appropriately. The practice of observers publicly reporting their perspectives on only the full Board Meeting will continue.
- Board liaisons will serve three-year terms, with initial terms for teaching and administrative faculty staggered from one to three years.
Board liaisons should not function as representatives of departments or constituents. Like trustees, they are not to come to meetings with prepared statements or rigid positions; rather, they are there to listen, engage in the process as appropriate and seek the way forward with the rest of the committee.
- All newly appointed Board liaisons will be expected to attend new board orientation during the October Board meeting of their first term.
Additional administrative or teaching faculty, other than the board liaisons will, when necessary, continue to be asked to participate in Board meetings, share insights or make presentations during various committee or other Board sessions.