A number of recent conversations in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), budget forums and meetings with department chairs provided me the motivation to write about the role of PSU’s Academic Leadership Team (ALT). The members of ALT are the schools/colleges and Library deans, the vice provosts and the provost.
A piece of trivia: ALT was formally known as the Deans’ Council before it underwent a name change two years ago to better reflect its purpose and function.
When it comes to ALT, shared governance and leadership is always part of the equation.
ALT’s Role in Shared Governance/Shared Leadership
Most universities (PSU is no exception) operate on the principle of shared governance for academic decision making and see its great value. Our shared governance process is formalized to ensure several key components:
- A framework for involvement
- Decision making that defines authorities and responsibilities
- Effective communication
- Expression of divergent viewpoints
Part of an Inclusive Process
Those formal processes include individual faculty members, directors and department chairs, associate deans, deans, vice provosts, the provost, vice presidents and the president. It also includes groups and organizations such as our faculty unions (AAUP and PSUFA), academic departments, college-level committees, the Faculty Senate and its respective committees, the Associated Students of PSU (ASPSU), the President’s Executive Committee and our PSU Board of Trustees, and of course, the Academic Leadership Team (ALT).
How ALT Functions
The ‘T’ in ALT stands for Team for a reason. Their purpose is to work with the faculty, staff, students and other administrative leaders at PSU, and our community to realize our collective academic vision. We weigh in on, influence and make recommendations and decisions on academic policies and procedures, strategic directions, initiatives, enrollment management and academic budgets. We also implement recommendations that come from other individuals, offices and groups. In doing so, we do not work in silos, and deans do not advocate solely for their school/college.
Rather, ALT members bring a diverse range of perspectives for the group to understand the similar and different opportunities, as well as challenges and contributions each school/college makes to the University.
Debunking Myths about ALT
ALT members do not have a “vote.” Decisions are not made by:
- who talks the loudest or the most
- holding one’s cards close to their vest
Decisions are made in an environment of collective and collaborative understanding and respect of the needs and contributions between and within the schools/colleges and the university as a whole. Every conversation takes into account impacts and opportunities on the parts as well as the whole.
ALT is most effective when we are able to look at a topic from all perspectives and think about the opportunities it provides the university as a whole and to individual units.
I encourage all faculty, staff and students to share ideas and questions about ALT, and yes, your concerns as well, with your deans, the vice provosts and me on this blog space.