President Gottfredson’s comments on shared governance

May 20, 2013 

Introductory context from President Gottfredson: 

My commitment to shared governance within our university is deep and abiding. As president of this public university, I seek not only to affirm strong shared governance, but to strengthen it further. I am fully committed to working with the senate and with advisory boards that include a strong faculty voice to ensure decision making that is inclusive and consultative. My support for the legislation creating a public institutional board for the University of Oregon in no way diminishes my commitment to shared governance. I believe the benefits to the university associated with Senate Bill 270 will be most fully realized in the presence of robust, collegial and formalized shared governance that is memorialized in documents such as the constitution.

President Gottfredson’s statements on shared governance within an institutional board structure as proposed in pending legislation:

  1. Senate Bill 270 does not introduce a change in shared governance. The rules and policies of the State Board of Higher Education, including those regarding shared governance and the internally prescribed methods of changing the UO Constitution, will remain in effect with an institutional board as proposed in SB 270;
  2. I will recommend to the institutional board that the State Board of Higher Education’s rules and policies concerning shared governance remain in place and that the UO Constitution be amended only pursuant to those rules, policies and the procedures articulated within the University of Oregon Constitution;
  3. The University of Oregon Constitution became the operative document for our shared governance system when it was ratified by the statutory faculty and signed by my predecessor on December 15, 2011. It is in effect as ratified and will remain so under an institutional board unless it is modified by procedures delineated in the constitution itself.

Some have wondered why I have not “signed the constitution.” My signature is unnecessary because the document is already operative, having been signed by my predecessor in 2011. We have followed the constitution processes since my arrival. Although the current policies of the State Board of Higher Education allow a new president to seek amendments to the constitution, I have not done so and have no intention of doing so. Although my signature is unnecessary, to eliminate any uncertainty, I am sending a memorandum to the president of the University Senate with my affirmation of the constitution and my commitment not to seek its modification except as provided for in the constitution itself.