System Governance Handbook
What is System Governance?
System Governance is faculty, staff and student leaders elected by their local governing groups . The University of Alaska universities (UAA, UAF and UAS) each have faculty senates and staff councils. Each university campus has a student governments. Faculty and staff leaders from the local faculty senates and staff councils sit on systemwide alliances: Faculty Alliance and Staff Alliance. Student leaders from each student government participate on a systemwide coalition: Coalition of Student Leaders. The UA Board of Regents and UA Summit Team regard these groups as advisory groups in the decision making process. Shared governance is a process honored by the University of Alaska that allows everyone to have a voice in the organization.
History of System Governance
Governance for faculty, staff and students exists at the University of Alaska under the Board of Regents authorization in the Regents’ Policy 03.01.01. Since 1968, the Board of Regents’ Policy has recognized governance although it has transformed over the years to meet the needs of faculty, staff and students.
Faculty Alliance, Staff Alliance, the Coalition of Student Leaders, and the System Governance Council consist of governing leadership from the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) and University of Alaska Southeast (UAS), University of Alaska Statewide (statewide) and the local campus alumni associations.
The four system governance groups and the Statewide Administration Assembly (Statewide Staff Council) came to be during the governance restructure between 1987 and 1993. Prior to the 1993-1994 academic year, the University of Alaska General Assembly, previously known as the Statewide Assembly, represented staff, students, faculty and alumni. The General Assembly Executive Committee, usually made up of staff and faculty, conducted most of the regular business on issues, not only of concern to the whole body, but also with issues of interest to specific constituents. The need for each group to have a separate organization to represent them led to the restructure in 1993.
UA Board of Regents
The UA Board of Regents (BOR) governs the University of Alaska. The Alaska governor appoints the eleven regents and the Alaska Legislature confirms them. They have eight-year terms beginning the first Monday in February in the year of their appointment with exception to the student regent who serves a two-year term beginning on June 1. Each University of Alaska institution has the opportunity to hold elections for the position of student regent. Forwarded to the governor for his consideration are the names of the top two candidates from each university.
The Board of Regents elects a chair, vice-chair, secretary, and treasurer. They have subcommittees, which include the Academic and Student Affairs Committee, the Audit Committee, the Facilities and Land Management Committee, and the Planning and Development Committee.
Most Board of Regents’ meetings take place on Thursdays and Fridays. Generally, regular committee meetings take place five times a year and occur in September, December, February, April and June on Thursdays with regular sessions on Fridays. Actions proposed on items discussed in committees go into a “consent agenda” for the regular session on Friday. Approval of each committee’s work happens with the adoption of the consent agenda unless one or more regents object. Public comment periods normally occur on Thursday and Friday mornings.
The University of Alaska president operates and manages the university under the authority of the Board of Regents and serves as the executive officer to the board. He is the official spokesperson for the university. To see details of the president’s responsibilities and duties go to the Regents’ Policy and University Regulations 02.01. The president delegates his authority to the university chancellors and their direct reports.
Summit Team membership includes the president of the University of Alaska, the vice president of Academic Affairs, and the chancellors and provosts from UAA, UAF and UAS. The team is part of the decision making process associated with the Shaping Alaska's Future initiative, and the framework for developing UA's culture into one of continuous quality improvement and innovation. They chose the name "Summit Team" in honor of the Latin "ad summum" emblazoned on the official University of Alaska seal, which appears on all UA diplomas. This collaborative body will take up issues that cross university boundaries. The Summit Team is formed with the charge to make necessary decisions, when those are within the authority of its members, or to recommend changes to the BOR when new policy is needed. The role of shared governance in this endeavor is extremely important. Governance groups will have a much improved opportunity to advise the administration in accordance with their responsibility.
(Exerpts taken from President Gamble's email on Feb. 13, 2014 announcing the creation of the Summit Team)
Summit Team Proposal Form
This form is for use by Faculty Alliance, Staff Alliance, Coalition of Student Leaders and the System Governance Council when an issue, they would like to address, arises concerning the entire univerity system.
System Governance Office
The System Governance Office resides on the UAF Fairbanks campus in the Butrovich Building Suite 106. The executive officer functions as the liaison and communication hub between the governance groups and the administration, the president, and the Board of Regents. The office facilitates system governance processes and provides information and research support to system governance leaders. All communications and actions from each group flow through the System Governance Office to establish a historical record, to create continuity in the processes, and to assure compliance to the Board of Regents Policies and Unversity Regulations. The System Governance processes assist in the yearly transition of new leaders and accommodate the education of those practices. The governance groups receive UA Statewide general funds to support travel and the work required in the function of system governance.
System Governance Groups
Coalition of Student Leaders
The Coalition of Student Leaders includes the presidents of the eleven UA campuses, or an appointed representative from the local campus student government. Student governments, who have voting members on the Coalition, includes:
University of Alaska Anchorage -
- UAA Union of Students
- Kachemak Bay Student Association (Homer)
- Kenai Peninsula College Student Union (Kenai/Soldotna)
- Kodiak College Student Association
- Matanuska-Susitna College Student Government (Palmer)
- Prince William Sound Community College Student Association (Valdez)
University of Alaska Fairbanks -
- Associated Students of UAF
- Kuskokwim Campus Student Government (Bethel)
University of Alaska Southeast -
- United Students of UAS –Juneau
- United Students of UAS – Ketchikan
- United Students of UAS – Sitka
At the annual retreat in the fall, the Coalition holds an election for chair, vice chair, secretary and treasurer. Election of these officers is also in accordance with the Coalition of Student Leaders’ Charter. Each term lasts one academic year with a two-term limit. The chair of the Coalition calls the coalition meetings, and the vice chair serves as chair in their absence.
In addition, the Coalition's chair and vice chair serve on the System Governance Council, a System Governance body made up of faculty, staff, student leaders from the System Governance groups: Faculty Alliance, Staff Alliance and the Coalition of Student Leaders along with three alumni leaders representing each university (UAA, UAF, and UAS).
Two ex officio (non-voting) positions reside within the Coalition: the student regent, and the student commissioner to the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education (ACPE). The governor of the State of Alaska appoints these two two-year term positions. A copy of the State Statute relating to the student regent and student commissioner are included in this handbook.
The Faculty Alliance has three representatives from each Faculty Senate from UAA, UAF and UAS. The three representatives are the current year’s Faculty Senate president-elect, president, and past-president. Each representative is a member of the Faculty Alliance for three consecutive years.
The Faculty Alliance has an automatic rotation for the position of chair. The chair position rotates among the universities every third year e.g. faculty from UAF chair one year, UAA the next, and UAS in the third year. The term lasts for one year from June 1 to May 31. The chair is the spokesperson of the Alliance and presides over all meetings
The Staff Alliance has eight representatives and they include two from the UAS Staff Council, two from the UAF Staff Council, two from the UAA Staff Council, and two from the Statewide Administration Assembly.
Staff Alliance elects a chair and vice chair at their August retreat. The chair and vice chair come from different universities. The terms last for one year or until a successor is elected.
System Governance Council
The System Governance Council is made up of two members each from the Faculty Alliance, Staff Alliance, Coalition of Student Leaders, and three alumni representatives (one each from UAA, UAF and UAS).
The Council’s focus is to give a place for the Faculty Alliance, Staff Alliance, Coalition of Student Leaders and alumni to collaborate and address issues affecting more than one constituency or may affect the entire university community systemwide.
Message to Student Leaders
Your Life as a Coalition Member
As your student government’s representative to the Coalition, you will have an opportunity to interact with other student leaders from around the state through various electronic meetings , through the Coalition email list-serv, and even in face-to-face meetings for those who travel to attend conferences or UA Board of Regents’ meetings .
You will have the opportunity and responsibility to communicate the needs and concerns of your campus to the Coalition and, through the Coalition, to the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education (ACPE), to the UA Board of Regents, to the Alaska State Legislature, and to other bodies that make decisions affecting students across the state.
While you represent the needs of your fellow students to the Coalition, it is also important to bring information you gain from Coalition meetings and activities back to your local student groups. The Coalition strives to strengthen student governments across the state, increase and maintain communication between them, and bring a unifying perspective so that all of our organizations can work together on large issues like tuition, capital projects and student loans.
As a Coalition representative, you have access to a wider array of resources than may be available to other students on your campus. Your job is to find ways to increase the availability of these resources as much as possible. It strengthens your student community if you do this, and use yourself as a resource as well. You may want to give a report to your student government after every Coalition meeting, set up informational tables in a central location (such as a student union or cafeteria), or hand out informational fliers on a particular issue. Generally making yourself accessible and available for information can also encourage good communication between you and your peers. Taking an active role in the Coalition gives you the opportunity to energize your student body and help successful strategies spread across the state.
One of the most important tasks of the Coalition is to foster leadership development. You may be called upon to lead a sub-committee, event, or even give a report to the Board of Regents.
The Coalition’s focus is on unifying and strengthening the student voice in Alaska. Your assessment of where your campus is, and where it needs to be, is an essential piece of the developing future of the Coalition.
The UA president relies on the Coalition of Student Leaders to provide feedback regarding student issues across the state and views the Coaltion along with the faculty and staff alliances as advisory to his decision making process.
Unfortunately, Alaska’s size and the location of UA campuses translate into high travel costs for student leaders. It is important that your student government plan and allocate enough money to send its members to important meetings. Attend any of the events but you are encouraged and expected to attend the following two events:
Annual Fall Orientation in Fairbanks
This annual event is sponsored by System Governance at Statewide. It is a time for incoming student leaders to meet and become acquainted with each other, to participate in orientation, begin planning for the coming academic year and elect the officers for the academic year.
The Annual Alaska Legislative Session and Advocacy Trip to Juneau
Your local student government is responsible to send you to Juneau with the Coalition in February for the Legislative Session. System Governance and UAS sponsor the events and activities. The session is an opportunity for student leaders to come together to execute a legislative strategy in support of the systemwide priorities in the UA budget.
What is Advocacy?
Advocacy is the act of attempting to influence a decision. Usually, the term refers to attempts to influence a legislator to vote a certain way on a bill. Here, we use the term broadly to include attempts to influence public decision makers, including legislators, public officials, and education officials, both on and off campus.
Student Governments usually engage in what is sometimes referred to as “public interest” advocacy. This means that the students involved have identified a broad public purpose for their activities. This does not mean that all students will agree on the issues, but it does mean that those involved believe that their objective will achieve some public good. Public interest advocates generally avoid “buying” influence through campaign contributions and tend to rely on providing rationale and data to support their positions and demonstrating power through grassroots efforts, like voting and letter writing.
Advocacy is an important part of public decision-making. Legislators and other decision makers often lack the time and resources to research all sides of an issue. Understanding the competing interests involved and how the decision will affect people is an important part of any decision. Advocates influence the legislative process by providing reliable information and showing decision makers how their decisions will impact people.
Problems and Issues
The need to advocate often arises when an individual experiences a problem. If a single student could not afford a proposed tuition increase, it would be a personal matter which could be addressed through a variety of support services. However, if a number of students cannot afford the increase, the issue of access to higher education arises. The issue of access to higher education involves a number of public policy questions where the decision lies with a number of decision makers. If you or your student governments lack the resources or authority to respond to the problem, you will likely engage in some form of advocacy to get the result you want.
Effective advocating involves a range of etiquette norms, tactics, and processes. The following suggestions provide a context in which to prepare for advocating. This is a simplified list; different strategies need to be considered for each advocating situation.
- Identify the problem with specificity. Find out who is affected, how many are affected, and how they are affected. A very broad issue, such as financial barriers to higher education, may affect more than the students involved - it could affect the supply of trained workers in the state, the diversity of the campus and the families of the students as well. A more narrow issue such as library hours may only affect enrolled students and may have a particular effect on working students who must study during the evening. Meet and discuss the problem with those who are affected.
- Identify the decision maker. This may be difficult. For some issues there are several “layers” of decision makers. The Board of Regents, for example, determines tuition. However, what the statewide administration proposes affects the decision along with the budget that the legislature authorizes for the university. Even so, a single campus matter such as lighting around the campus or parking on campus is likely to be decided on that campus, by a campus director or chancellor. Take care not to spend resources convincing someone with no authority to give you what you want. Yet, many busy decision makers delegate tasks and seek the advice of colleagues. It may be useful to find out to whom the decision makers listen. Remember that lobbying is not just for the legislature: we also lobby our Board of Regents and administrations. It is important to remember which responsibilities belong to each organization.
- Identify the resources you and your organization have to work on the issue . Who will conduct research, and who will take action? Do you have regular meetings or contacts with the decision maker, or will you need to create them? Do you have funds for the activities you plan? If you need more people, you need to do some outreach or networking. If you need funds, you may need to raise money or find allies with resources.
- Decide what you want. What are the solutions to the problem? You may need to choose between solutions, or a variety may be identified. If poor lighting is the problem, find out where there is a need and for how many lights. How many additional library hours, and on what days, would improve student access? If high tuition is the problem, will you seek more funding for financial aid, lower tuition levels, or both? If you do not identify what you want, you may not be satisfied with the solutions proposed by others, even if you successfully convince them that a response is needed.
- Network with others who share your interest. Faculty, alumni, student organizations and even community organizations may help you with people, resources, and information that you need to present your case. For example, members of the public who use the library may also need longer hours, or business and civic organizations, such as your local chamber of commerce, may share your concern for access to and quality of higher education. A proposal supported by many groups is more likely to get the attention of decision makers.
- Communicate with the decision maker. The nature of the communication will vary with the setting. The best way to reach a campus official may be by simply holding a meeting. An administrative rule passed by the institution, a University Regulation implemented by the President, a Regents Policy adopted by the Board of Regents, or a statute adopted by the legislature will likely involve formal testimony at a public hearing. Even where hearings are involved, utilize all of the following: direct meetings, letters, phone calls, and petitions.
- Informing the public is an important part of any advocacy effort. Members of the public or the press may help bring favorable consideration to your proposals. The process may also help you form a network of interested groups. Informing the public can be done in many different ways:
- Notify the media with press releases and/or direct contact
- Hold events to attract public attention such as information tables, rallies, demonstrations, marches, vigils, strikes, or boycotts
- Make and distribute posters, flyers, and radio spots
- Hold a “media event” such as an open forum
- Make use of natural gathering times such as registration, orientation, special activities and events, club meetings, and so forth
- Collect signatures on a petition
- Organize a letter writing drive
- Organize a POM (Public Opinion Message) drive
Notice that some of the activities listed above have the dual effect of public pressure on the decision maker in addition to informing the public.
Effective advocacy means having the right information to assist the decision maker, knowing what you want, working with everyone who is affected, and communicating with the decision maker and the public.
Letters, Emails, Phone Calls, and Public Opinion Messages
Letters are important, even critical, to influence legislation. Letters to the writer’s own senator, representatives, regents, or administrators are especially important. On most issues, legislators do not receive a great many letters. Many legislators have told of instances when just one particularly effective letter had changed their position on a bill. Other legislators tell of how they will make two piles - pro and con. The largest pile of letters may decide on how they will vote on an issue. Here are some guidelines to assist your letter writing efforts:
- Mention the number of the bill (i.e., Senate Bill or SB 310) and the subject matter of the bill.
- Tell them if you are a constituent.
- Have people write each letter individually – do not use photocopies or form letters.
- State why you support or oppose the bill and how it will affect you.
- Write in your own words and include thoughts of your own. It is helpful to site your own
- (relevant) personal experiences.
- Offer as much knowledge as you can, but do not clutter your letter with too many facts, data or statistics.
- Do not hesitate to write because you feel you are not an “expert.” Often times the most effective letters are the most honest ones that come from personal experience.
- Keep the tone courteous, unemotional, constructive and well-reasoned - do not be threatening, insulting or self-righteous, i.e. “I’m your constituent - what are you going to do for me?”
- Be brief and to the point. One page should suffice.
- Express your desire for a response, i.e. “I look forward to hearing from you.”
- Include your mailing address, phone number, and internet address so the legislator, regent, or administrator can follow-up with a reply.
- Write on only one subject per letter.
- Do not use university, campus, or student government letterhead when writing your letters.
- You can mention your position within student government, but your message is your own, not the school’s.
Compose emails in the same manner as letters and be brief, to the point, honest, and professional. Emails are a handy and effective lobbying tool for constituents when an issue is pressing and requires quick action or when the end of the session is near. Reach most legislators at: Senator/Representative_FirstName_Lastname@legis.state.ak.us. Contact your local campus information to obtain addresses for desired regents or administrators.
Dictate Public Opinion Messages (POMs) over the phone by calling your local legislative information office. Keep the messages short - less than fifty words - and write them on the form provided for that purpose. These are often more convenient and simpler than writing letters. Bills can pass or fail depending on the sent in number of POM’s. POM’s are only for state legislators.
Speaking directly with your legislator over the telephone can also be very powerful. Sometimes direct contact with a constituent is all a policymaker needs to make their decisions. A few things to remember when making the call:
- Be persistent! Do not assume that one call will be enough.
- Limit yourself to one topic per call
- Keep it short! Remember, they run on tight schedules, and deal with many different people each day
Remember, legislators, regents, and administrators decide student needs. We need to lobby our administrators and regents in the same manner and with the same professional and positive attitude we approach the legislature.
Special thanks to the Oregon State Student Association for their contribution to this section of Advocacy.
System Governance Activities, Processes and Procedures
Agendas and Minutes
Meeting agendas are posted to the System Governance Home Page one week prior to the meeting. The chair of the group works with the executive officer of System Governance to set the agenda. Once the agenda is posted, no changes will be made. The group may amend the agenda at the beginning of the meeting.
The secretary of the governance group or the executive officer will take the minutes of the meeting and submit the draft minutes to the chair no later than one week after the meeting occurred. The office will post the draft minutes them to the System Governance Home Page in preparation for approval at the next meeting.
Google Apps Account Required for Participation
Google Apps and @alaska.edu Account Required to participate in system governance
All Faculty, staff and students must obtain a UA Google Apps account at <http://www.alaska.edu/google/opt-in/start.xml> to participate in System Governance processes. The @alaska.edu account gives access to Google Hangouts, Google Calendar and essentially all the Google Applications to facilitate collaboration. All UA employees and students are qualified to have a free GoogleApps@UA account. The System Governance Office will only accept one email address per member and it must be @alaska.edu. You may elect to forward the @alaska.edu email to your primary email account.
Governance Reports to the Board of Regents
Each chair from Faculty Alliance, Staff Alliance, and the Coalition of Student Leaders prepares a written report to the Board of Regents (BOR) prior to the regular board meeting and they are made public as part of the Board's agenda. Chairs also give an oral report to the board at each regular BOR meeting. The written Governance Report consists of the current topics, concerns, activities, and actions of each governance group.
Meetings and Retreats
Each governance group generally meets monthly with July as the exception. Faculty eliminate a June meeting due to faculty contracts ending in May.
Governance groups should notify the chair if there is an item of concern to include in the agenda or of any absence or tardiness. Schedule an alternate to attend the meeting in case of an expected absence.
In the fall, the governance groups hold an onsite, in person retreat.
Faculty Alliance holds meetings the second Friday of each month. Staff Alliance holds meetings the second Tuesday of each month. They normally last two hours and they are held via Google Hangout.
Motions and Resolutions: The Process for Actions
Governance groups initiate actions, when necessary, in the form of a motion or a resolution.
Per Robert's Rules of Order (11th ed.), "A motion is a formal proposal by a member, in a meeting, that the assembly take certain action," whereas, a resolution is used "for more important or complex questions, or when greater formality is desired" and is generally written out ahead of time.
To route an action through governance:
1.The governance group votes on the motion or resolution.
2. The group submits the motion or resolution to the System Governance Executive Officer to format.
3. The chair of the governance group formally signs the document on behalf of the group.
4. The Executive Officer prepares the document and sends it to the UA President.
5. The President and/or BOR issues a response.
Check the BOR Policy and UA Regulation for the response timeline:
Authorized Travel (AT) must be completed and approved PRIOR to making any travel arrangements. The AT is an estimate of the costs. For the majority of governance-funded travel, the Governance Office will initiate the AT.
Faculty, staff, and students traveling on official System Governance duties are responsible for complying with UA travel procedures and are expected to be prudent and reasonable in their expenditures. UA Travel Regulations (R05.02.060) can be viewed HERE.
Travel charges must not exceed the estimated amount on the AT. No changes will be made after the AT is approved except in emergency situations.
The System Governance office will route the AT for approval to the traveler and, if necessary, the traveler' supervisor. Due to recent travel restrictions, Governance travel will also be approved by the vice president for Academic Affairs and Research.
Travel and Business Expenses
Airfare will be purchased by the System Governance office.
Lodging will be reserved and paid for by the System Governance office.
The traveler will receive reimbursement for per diem after travel is completed. Catered meals or meals purchased by System Governance will be subtracted from the per diem total.
If necessary, up to $100 will be encumbered to allow for any ground transportation or parking fees. Car rentals are not allowed for System Governance business unless approved before travel and with additional rationale.
Only the actual and necessary expenses related directly to traveling in the performance of System Governance duties shall be reimbursed.
The System Governance office does not issue advances.
The Expense Report (ER) will be completed by the System Governance office. The traveler will need to supply receipts for lodging, transportation and any other additional expenses to the System Governance office.
Reimbursement will be expedited if the traveler has set up direct deposit. Instructions for setting up travel reimbursement direct deposit can be viewed HERE.
Main Page : http://w3.legis.state.ak.us/search/search.php
- University Governed by Board of Regents Sec. - 14.40.120
- Selection of the Student Regent - Sec. 14.40.130
- Term of Office - Sec. 14.40.140
- Appointment of Regents – Sec. 14.40.150
- Board Meetings Public; Meeting Notice; Public Facilities – Sec.14.40.160
- Duties and Power of Board of Regents - Sec. 14.40.170
- Selection of the Student Commissioner Sec. 14.42.010 and Sec. 14.42.015