Otterbein University governance system under review
Governance and bylaws standing committee reviews changes to the university governance system
Otterbein University’s governance and bylaws committee is still evaluating structural changes made to the university governance system three years ago.
“We started this process last year,” said Senate Parliamentarian and Chair of the governance and bylaws committee Susan Millsap. “It has continued into this year because it takes time to talk to people and see what’s working and what’s not and, if there are changes, to get it through the system.”
Major changes to the governance system included recognizing different bodies on campus as official constituent assemblies, including faculty senate, staff assembly and Otterbein University Student Government (OUSG).
“I think it was a great change for students especially,” said Millsap. “It officially recognized the student assembly and made them a part of governance. The spirit of our bylaws has always been student voice and student involvement, but the creation of the assembly helped to organize that voice.”
Each of the constituent assemblies are made of elected individuals who are representative of the number of faculty, staff and students on campus. Within these assemblies are elected representatives who make up the university senate.
The operations division also makes up senate. This includes individuals from academic affairs, student affairs, business affairs, and others.
Within senate, there are five different standing committees that address different categories, like curriculum and planning. When amendments to senate bylaws or curricular changes are proposed by assemblies, the proposals must go through the corresponding standing committee before being presented to senate as a whole. The proposal then moves on to the university board of trustees, depending on its significance.
Other major changes to the governance system included limiting the number of committees. According to Millsap, the old governance system had 42 committees. The new system has 23.
“We now have people focused on the things they need to focus on,” said Millsap. “We had way too many committees trying to cover everything. The idea now is that things should be better focused with better communication throughout all those layers.”
President John Comerford, chair of the planning committee, has worked to outline and communicate these goals to the student body, and has shown a trend of transparency since his appointment.
Matthew D'Oyly, the director of constituent communication and philanthropic programs and president of staff assembly, said that while President Emeritus Kathy Krendl and Comerford have different approaches to communication between university leadership and students, the goals are now more concrete.
“The goals now are very spelled out and detailed,” said D'Oyly. “We’re updating them each month. It’s a lot of little things that are now being shared broadly.”
Within his first few months as president, Comerford released a strategic plan and budget projection model to the university, in addition to the list of strategic goals released in early November.
"I've noticed him at a lot of campus events so far," said Riley Yost, a junior systems engineering major. "He seems to really want to be present on campus. I think he really cares about communicating with students."
Jesse Chirdon, also a junior systems engineering major, has also noticed Comerford's presence on campus.
"I've seen him dining with students at the campus center a lot, and I've never seen Krendl doing that," said Chirdon.