Email to University Senate: Policies proposal

Interim President Scott Coltrane sent the following email to members of the University Senate regarding the proposal for university's process for reviewing policies:


The University of Oregon lived up to its reputation as a place of lively debate and passionate discourse this week in our discussion of a policies proposal before the UO Board of Trustees.

I have heard your concerns and, as President, have carried your voice forward to our Board of Trustees. The board graciously responded by postponing consideration of the policies proposal at the December meeting, but charged us to work expeditiously towards a revised process that allows the university to review policy efficiently and collaboratively. The Board would like to see a new resolution in time for consideration at its March meetings. 

As many of you may know, the University Senate leadership expressed concern about a proposal before the UO Board of Trustees to create a more streamlined process for reviewing the 700 plus policies the UO inherited from the state during our governance transition and for policy development going forward. The board has a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that all UO policies – existing, inherited and developed in the future – are organized and managed efficiently and effectively. Our current process is not efficient and did not envision the inheritance of many hundreds of additional policies to review, revise or repeal in an abbreviated timeframe.  It also doesn’t contemplate the new institutional board, which took effect just this summer.

Provost Bronet, members of the leadership team and I understand the concerns presented.  We acknowledge that these proposed changes could have been communicated better and that the Senate’s leadership could have been more involved sooner in the process. Most importantly, we commit to doing better in the future.

We now have a good opportunity to demonstrate to each other and to our board that we can move forward together. I hope we can put the distrust and negative assumptions behind us, and continue to work through this transition in a way that elevates our University and our shared commitment to academic excellence. As a starting point, I offer a few details of my proposed process below and look forward to working with the Senate and others to begin this important work.

The proposed process honors the constitution and our collective commitment to shared governance by:

  • Creating a standing position on the Policy Advisory Council for the Senate President;
  • Ensuring that “every new or revised University Policy proposal generated by the Administration shall be sent to the Senate President” (University Constitution early in the process creating greater efficiencies;
  • Enabling the Senate President as a PAC member to flag all policies that involve “academic matters as commonly understood in higher education” for Senate consideration through Senate-defined processes;
  • Requiring the Senate President, during final PAC review, to verify that Senate procedures were followed and Senate approval on such academic matters was achieved before moving forward for action; and
  • Providing a forum for the President to receive and consider new or revised “policy proposals approved by the University Senate…within 60 days” as defined in the UO Constitution, Section

In summary, the statutory faculty through the senate will continue to serve as our policy leaders for all academic policies. My sincerest hope is that these changes strengthen our faculty’s voice in policy making by increasing opportunity for faculty to influence policy development – both academic and non-academic – through participation in the PAC, as subject matter experts, and in an open public comment period. A visual depiction of these process changes is available here and I am happy to receive any questions or concerns.


Scott Coltrane
Interim President