History of the PAC 12 Academic Leadership Coalition

Fall semester 2011

Shortly after the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Utah’s acceptance into the Pac-12 athletic conference, Jerry Peterson from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and then staff member Sierra Swearingen extended an invitation to the shared governance leaders at each Pac-12 university to attend a meeting in Boulder, Colorado.  The purpose of this meeting was to determine if each of the member institution’s shared governance organizations might benefit from collaborative discussions between their individual Senate leaders. Ten of the Pac–12 athletic conference universities sent a member of their Senate leadership team to this fall 2011 conference.  This introductory meeting had an obvious shared governance focus, but the group also delved deeper into potential collaborations in the areas of faculty-student issues, course sharing, recruitment and retention of faculty and a variety of other topics. All in all, this first meeting was a tremendous success and laid a strong foundation for future meetings.

Spring semester 2012

In the spring of 2012, Washington State University hosted the PAC 12 governance leaders at its extended campus in downtown Seattle, Washington. At this early point, the faculty group did not have any formal bylaws, name or mission statement, but was still uniquely bound together with a common interest in improving shared governance capabilities on each of their home campuses, and exploring collaborative opportunities between the participating institutions.  Kenneth Struckmeyer, Bob Greenberg, and then staff member Doreen Branson were instrumental in the planning and organization that took place to hold this second conference.

The spring 2012 conference was well attended, with nine universities sending not only members from their Senate leadership teams, but also members of their administrative staff.  During this event, the faculty members and administrative professionals heard from the Deputy Commissioner of the Pac-12 athletic conference Kevin Weinberger, Executive Director of the Coalition on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) Barbara Allen, and also Washington State University Provost Warwick Bayly.   Barbara Allen provided tremendous insight and advice to the group on potential trajectories that the organization could move toward. Kevin Weinberger outlined the preliminary plans for the new Pac-12 television station. Warwick Bayly also discussed a variety of topics centered around recent Provost discussions on Pac-12 academic collaborations and other possible avenues for sharing amongst the universities.

During the spring of 2012 conference, the faculty leaders in attendance discussed challenges that were currently present on their home campuses and shared solutions that were working at each of their institutions, in the hopes that other institutions in attendance might benefit. Additionally, the shared governance staff/professionals met and discussed many topics of mutual interest. The entire group recognized the importance of staff support in the execution of shared governance at each of their respective universities.

Fall semester 2012

The University of Utah offered to host the PAC 12 governance leaders conference in the fall semester of 2012. Like Washington State University, University of Utah Senate leaders and staff, Robert Fujinami, Allison Mower, Patricia Hanna, Paul Mogren, and Shawnee Worsley held an excellent conference.   During this conference, the attendees heard from University of Utah Provost Michael Hardman on a variety of topics currently being discussed by Pac-12 athletic conference Provosts.

Collectively, there was discussion on massive open online courses, the role of non-tenure track faculty in shared governance, as well as a breakout session that reviewed ownership of data and biomaterials, the role of students in the University Senate, and the role of standing committees in each institution’s University Senate.  As in past conferences, there was continued discussion about selecting a formal name, and the development of basic organizational structural components, but at the end of the meeting, certain details still needed to be worked out.  Prior to the conclusion of the conference, it was determined that Arizona State University would hold the spring 2013 event.

Spring semester 2013

Arizona State University Senate President Mark Lussier, Senate President–elect Tom Schildgen, and Director of the University Senate Office, Chuck Barbee were instrumental in planning and hosting the spring 2013 conference. As in past years, the group continued to show strong attendance with ten universities attending:  Washington State University, University of Washington, University of Oregon, Oregon State University, University of Utah, University of Arizona, Arizona State University, Stanford, University of Southern California, and the University of California Berkeley.

During the spring 2013 conference, the attendees heard from ASU vice-Provost for Academic Personnel Barry Ritchie and ASU President Michael Crow.  Vice-Provost Ritchie discussed the ever-growing need for faculty governance bodies to be responsive and more nimble in conducting consultations related to the advancement of their respective universities. President Michael Crow indicated strong support for this fledgling group, and provided tremendous insight and direction on the future of higher education. Also during this conference, there was substantial discussion about the need to formalize the organizational components of the group. After much discussion by the participating institutional members, it was decided that a working group would be developed so that focused attention could be given to formulating a mission statement, naming the organization, and developing an organizational structure.  Each member in attendance was also asked to discuss this group with their respective Provost so that collectively we could estimate the exact need for institutional support in the future. Arizona State University, Washington State University, University of Washington and the University of Utah volunteered to serve as a work group for this important project during the summer of 2013.

2013-2014 Academic Year

The fall semester of 2013 conference was held at the University of Oregon.  Robert Kyr, Margie Paris, and then Senate Executive Coordinator Lisa Mick Shimizu organized another very well attended conference. The conference was attended by University of Arizona, Arizona State University, University of Oregon, Oregon State University, University of Washington, Washington State University, University of California Berkeley, and the University of Southern California.

At the fall 2013 event, the members of the working group presented a formal report for the work that had been accomplished during the previous summer. The work group offered the following for discussion: a proposed organizational name, mission statement, membership guidelines, and leadership structure. The participating institutions broke out into focal groups, and after much discussion and debate, the group was able to formally establish the organizational name of PAC 12 Academic Leadership Coalition and an edited version of the mission statement was agreed upon by unanimous vote, as follows:

The mission of the PAC 12 Academic Leadership Coalition is to improve the effectiveness and responsiveness of each member school’s shared governance organization, and where commonalities occur, to facilitate academic and research cooperation that is jointly beneficial to participating institutions.

During the 2013 fall conference, the participating institutions were also able to hear from one of the most distinguished educators and administrators in America: Dr. Robert M. Berdahl, former Interim President of the University of Oregon, former AAU President (Association of American Universities), and former President of both the University of Texas Austin and the University of California Berkeley.  Dr.Berdahl gave a compelling address to the group about the future of higher education and a variety of other issues related to shared governance, which is one of his major interests. There was also an active discussion about how individual institutions acknowledge service at their home institutions.

2014-2015 Academic Year

The 2015 spring conference, held on the campus of Washington State University in Pullman Washington, was a monumental conference for each of the attending institutions. Prior to the 2015 spring event, Arizona State University developed a complete set of draft bylaws that it was proposing to the group for review. After initial review of these bylaws, the attendees agreed that they were prepared to formalize the existence of the P12ALC. During this conference, an ad hoc committee was developed to make edits to the proposed bylaws. Upon completion of the editorial revisions and following a lively discussion by all attending members, the bylaws for the PAC 12 Academic Leadership Coalition were approved by unanimous consent. Upon approval of the organization bylaws, elections for officers took place with the following individuals being selected as the first officers of the PAC 12 Academic Leadership Coalition:

President:  Robert Kyr, University of Oregon

Vice President:  Katherine O’Neill, University of Washington

Executive Director:  Charles Barbee, Arizona State University

Secretary:  Vickie Nunnemaker, Oregon State University

In closing out the spring 2015 conference, the membership agreed that a formal announcement to the Presidents and Provosts of each member institution should be sent in the coming months. With the organizational design, membership requirements, and leadership in place, the PAC 12 Academic Leadership Coalition is now poised to carry out its mission in the years to come.

2015-2016 Academic Year

After the 2014-15 communication to the University Presidents and Provosts, the P12ALC came together in the spring semester of 2016 at the University of Arizona.  Bobbi McKean, Lynn Nadel and Michael Brewer of the University of Arizona worked diligently to host an outstanding conference with nine member institutions in attendance.  During the spring 2016 conference there was substantial discussion on each member institution’s approach to a variety of issues and challenges on their home campus. Some of the topics of discussion were budgetary issues, academic freedom, campus climate and open access.  In addition to discussing current hot topics, the group continued to discuss shared governance best practices.  The organization made incremental advancement by approving the position of Treasurer and electing Helene Ossipov from Arizona State University to serve as the Vice President, and authorized the Executive Committee to look into possible financing and budget options for the organization.