Round Structure1

Shared governance offers the opportunity for all faculty, staff, and students to actively contribute to the decision-making process at Middlesex Community College in pursuit of excellence in its educational mission. The governance system ensures open communication among all groups, including the College President and administration. The decisions and policies that result from this inclusive model of governance are made better through the collective intelligence of the college community. Not all decisions or actions by members of the campus community are matters of deliberation for the governance system and the governance process is not intended to supersede the designated authority and responsibility of individuals or offices of the college responsible for daily operations. Ultimately, legal authority for decision-making at the college rests with the Board of Regents, which delegates authority for day-to-day operations to the College President. The framework of the governance system ensures that the President receives timely input from faculty, staff, and students and gives consideration to their recommendations in addressing issues and making policy.

The governance system is a new model to be tested during the academic year 2015-16. This model was developed to address concerns about a lack of transparency, accountability, communication, and engagement repeatedly expressed by participants in recent years. The NEASC accreditation report of 2013-14 also identified governance as an area of particular concern at the college. In addition, recent significant budget challenges highlight the need for a nimble yet inclusive decision-making process.

The effectiveness of the new governance system will be evaluated throughout the academic year 2015-16 by a Governance Evaluation Committee reporting to the new Executive Council. This committee will address any questions and confusion that may arise during the test period, and may propose changes. By April of 2016, the Governance Evaluation Committee (GEC) will make final recommendations to the Executive Council regarding the new system. The campus community will have the opportunity to vote at a College Assembly on whether to extend the test period, adopt the new system and new by-laws, or consider other options for governance.

An ad hoc committee of College Council was created under existing governance by-laws in Fall 2014 to review the governance system. This ad-hoc committee was named the “Governance Review Team” with representation solicited from across the college and governing bodies.

Anna Wasescha, President
Steve Minkler, Dean of Academic Affairs
Adrienne Maslin, Dean of Students
Kim Hogan, Director of Finance

College Council
Judith Felton
Christine Witkowski
Linda Ansarra

Standing Committee: Faculty & Staff Development
Mary Lou Phillips

Standing Committee: College Affairs
Yvonne Rubin

Standing Committee: Information Resource Management

Standing Committee: Student Development Committee
Joy Hansen

Standing Committee: Programs & Services Evaluation Committee
Lin Lin

Standing Committee: Curriculum & Academic Policy
Patrick Bryan

Academic Division: Wheaton School
Mary Rayappan
Ben Boutaugh
Judy Wallace

Academic Division: Snow School
Jaime Flores
John Ambenge
John Shafer

An organization development consultant, Anne Yurasek of Fio Partners, was hired to guide the work of the team. Ms. Yurasek has consulted directly with the chair of the Governance Review Team, Christine Witkowski, and the President of the College, in planning the overall review process. She has also facilitated each of the team meetings to ensure balanced discussion and forward progress. On her recommendation, the team created a Steering Committee of 6 members to research information, analyze feedback, and develop recommendations for discussion by the full team. The Steering Committee consisted of volunteers from the Team and represents a broad range of backgrounds and viewpoints:

Anna Wasescha, President
Jaime Flores, Academic Division Director
Kim Hogan, Director of Finance & Administrative Services
Yvonne Rubin, Information Technology Technician 2
Judy Wallace, Chair of Faculty Forum, Professor
Christine Witkowski, Chair of College Council,  Associate Professor

The governance review process occurred in two phases. In Phase One, the steering committee and Team solicited feedback from the campus community, reviewed past feedback surveys, and researched governance philosophy and models to determine the scope of change needed. A key question at this stage was whether a new system was needed, or if updates to the existing system and bylaws could address the problems. The Governance Review Team and the Steering Committee met regularly, and facilitated a discussion about governance at a College Assembly of all faculty and staff. These meetings resulted in consensus that problems with the existing system were substantial and that a new system of governance should be developed. Based on research on other college’s governance systems, a new model was identified and the Steering Committee charged to proceed with Phase Two, further development of the proposed model. The proposed new system was presented to the campus community in May of 2015 via email, several Brown Bag lunches and at a College Assembly, culminating in a successful vote at Planning & Assessment Day to suspend the existing by-laws and test the model in the coming year. A Governance Implementation Task Force worked throughout the summer of 2015 to create policies and procedures for the new system to begin functioning in September 2015.

Anna Wasescha, President
Adrienne Maslin, Dean of Students
Kim Hogan, Director of Finance
Linda Ansarra
Gayle Barrett
Paul Carmichael
Jaime Flores
Michelle Kraczkowski
Corey Martell
Hilary Phelps
Cheryl Putnam
Rebecca Rist-Brown
Yvonne Rubin
Judy Wallace
Christine Witkowski

The proposed new governance model draws inspiration from a variety of sources, but is designed to uniquely fit the history, culture and organization here at Middlesex Community College. Middlesex has a history of valuing inclusivity, and this informed development of a collegial system that would create true shared governance amongst faculty, staff, students and management. The new model also seeks to address a significant lack of communication, accountability, and effectiveness in addressing strategic priorities.

“An institution’s governance is personal. It is personal to the individuals within it. As such, “governance” is a woven fabric of social, historical, cultural, contractual, academic, legal, economic, and organizational elements. It is unique and not easily portable to or from other institutions. Informal governance structures will develop and evolve on their own out of pragmatic necessity. The best governance structures are those specifically and meaningfully designed by an institution.” (San Diego Continuing Education)