Fredonia University Senate Chair Rob Deemer holds the new SUNY Shared Governance Award, presented at the SUNY VOICES Conference on Shared Governance April 23 in Albany. Fredonia was selected to receive the inaugural award, which was presented by SUNY Board of Trustees Chairman H. Carl McCall (far left) and Chancellor Nancy Zimpher (second from right). Dr. Deemer was also joined by campus faculty and staff representatives Bruce Simon, John McCune, Ziya Arnavut and John Baughman, and students Kyle Stolt, Tracy Halloran and Justin Shanley.
SUNY Fredonia has earned the distinction of being selected out of all 64 SUNY campuses to receive the first-ever SUNY Shared Governance Award in recognition of success that it has achieved in promoting and engaging in shared governance.
“From the detail in SUNY Fredonia’s Faculty and University Senate Bylaws, which purposely direct collaboration among faculty, staff, students and administrators to the open communication established between the administration, governance leaders and campus at large, your campus has been recognized as exemplar,” said Chancellor Nancy Zimpher.
The Shared Governance Award was presented at the SUNY VOICES Conference on Shared Governance held April 23-24 at the Albany Holiday Inn. Representatives from university administration, University Senate, unions and Student Association attended the event.
Fredonia President Virginia Horvath indicated she was very glad last fall when members of the campus governance leadership approached her about nominating Fredonia for the Shared Governance Award. She recalls that University Senate leaders said, “We think Fredonia should compete for this. We do this well, and we’d like to tell our story to other SUNY campuses."
“Shared governance is hard work," Horvath said. "It relies on having clear bylaws and procedures for governance, as well as inviting people across campus to participate in such initiatives as strategic planning. It takes a long time to hear all views and to have decision-making occur in the context of these differing perspectives," Horvath explained.
"For me, the affirmation that leaders on our campus felt that shared governance was something we did well was rewarding in itself. I was glad to collaborate with Senate Chair Rob Deemer and others to complete the application and to reflect on the different ways that our shared work has led to some great results, but I was thrilled to learn that we were, in fact, selected for that award,” Horvath said.
Years of refinement of policies and commitments from faculty, staff, students and administrators has made it possible for Fredonia to significantly advance a culture, principles and practices of shared governance.
“This award underscores SUNY’s commitment to academic excellence and public good through collaborative models of governance,” said SUNY Board of Trustees Chairman McCall. “Congratulations to SUNY Fredonia on receiving our first recognition, and thank you to all of the campuses who participated in this week’s conference in order to advance shared governance practices across SUNY.”
“Collaboration moves at the speed of trust,” added Chancellor Zimpher. “Shared governance is critical to the effectiveness of systems of higher education like SUNY, ensuring that all of our stakeholders – from students and faculty to community representatives and elected officials – have a voice at the leadership table and are committed to working together. SUNY Fredonia serves as an excellent model not just for SUNY colleges and universities but for those nationally.”
Dr. Rob Deemer, Fredonia's University Senate chair, admitted to being both excited and more than a little proud for his campus colleagues. “Of course it’s great to have helped the university stand out among the other campuses, but it also proves that the time and effort that all of us who take part in the various aspects of shared governance here at Fredonia put into our work has been recognized by our colleagues,” he said.
Deemer believes the “strong sense of collaboration” that exists at Fredonia and the extent that the entire campus community involves itself in shared governance were major factors that led to the university receiving the award.
“As a composer, I collaborate with others artists all the time and I see the same characteristics in the interactions I have with administration, faculty, professionals and students across campus. When you begin with the shared understanding that the goal is to improve things for everyone, it's much easier to find common ground and ultimately come to a solution that everyone can work with,” Deemer added. “It is my hope that our work here at Fredonia can serve as a model, both state-wide and nationally, for other institutions that are facing so many important and far-reaching issues throughout higher education."
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