Arkansas State University
Principles of Shared Governance

Definition:  Shared Governance is the process by which the University Community respectfully shares responsibility for reaching collective decisions on matters of policy and procedure.

It should embody the following principles:

  • A climate of shared governance relies upon consistent, trustworthy communication that is multidirectional.
  • A formal memorandum of understanding between various stakeholder constituencies (administration, faculty, staff and students) acknowledging the mutual acceptance of principles and processes is essential.
  • All participants in the shared governance process (committees, constituent groups, administrative groups, and administrators) are accountable for the proper execution of their role.
  • The principles of shared governance should permeate the campus, reaching into all levels of decision making.  Shared governance is a model to be used at all levels of the University Community.


  • Participation:  Those who will be affected by a decision on policy or procedures are entitled to be informed of and have opportunity to influence the discussion of these governance issues.
  • Selection of Representatives:  The various stakeholder constituencies should select their representatives to governance committees.
  • Areas of Primary Concern:  While many governance issues will involve multiple constituencies the process needs to acknowledge the fact that certain areas are the primary concern of one group either because the matters considered are of almost exclusive interest of one group or because one group holds the expertise in these matters.
  • Proportional Representation:  Committee representation should be in proportion to the level of interest of the stakeholder constituencies.

Procedural Integrity:

        Authority:  Shared governance recognizes the statutory authority of the president and the trustees of the University.  However, the spirit of shared governance requires that the administrative rejection of shared governance committee recommendations should be rare and for compelling reasons, provided in writing and subject to collective response.

        Openness:  The process should be transparent.

        Notification:  Committees should provide stakeholders with opportunities for discussion of policy and procedural issues prior to making final recommendations.

        Timeliness:  Recommendations and decisions on proposals need to be made in a manner that is timely and appropriate to the issue, yet does not overlook the governance process for the sake of expediency.  The status of any proposal should be available to all stakeholders.

        Oversight:  Responsibility for oversight and review of the process, and a mechanism for initiating oversight and review are essential to ensure the process is working as intended.  This would include primary oversight and review to ensure adherence to the spirit of shared governance at all levels of the university.

Governance Documents and the Scope of Shared Governance:

        Shared Governance Document:  A document clearly identifying itself as the shared governance document is needed.  The purpose of this document is to:

         Define shared governance.

         Delineate the breadth and scope of shared governance.

         List the principles of shared governance.

         Describe the process by which these principles are realized.

         Define the relationship of other governance documents, such as the Faculty, Staff and Student Handbooks, to the governance process, and indicate their authoritative role.

         Specify the conditions that would justify expedited decisions and the means by which such decisions can be made consistent with the principles of shared governance in such a way that is understood by all stakeholders.

Other Governance Processes:  Delineated decision making should clarify the linkages between and among committees, elected bodies and the administration and should be represented in the organizational chart of the university.  This includes, but is not limited to, the relationship of shared governance procedures to strategic planning and budget planning.  All such relationships need to be affirmed and explained.