SECTION III: CHANCELLOR'S STATEMENT ON GOVERNANCE AND FACULTY BY-LAWS OF THE UNIVERSITY AT ALBANY STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK
Chancellor's Statement On Governance
Following considerable discussion about the matter of enforcement of by-laws on local campuses, and following conferences among the Committee on Governance, the Executive Committee, the President's Council, and with the Board of Trustees, the Chancellor has developed the following Statement on Governance:
In the light of recent challenges to the basic structural elements of the University, I join with the Faculty Senate in reaffirming the validity of governance as the appropriate and organic process for the involvement of constituent groups in campus decision making. By this statement, University faculty, staff, and administration are reminded of the charge contained in the 1972 Master Plan that "the governance arrangements within the university will be increasingly clarified and improved methods of consultation will be developed to reflect the need for effective governance based upon widespread participation..."
Since these challenges go to the very heart of the University, it is appropriate to underscore the traditional legal framework which establishes and protects University governance.
The Education Law established the Board of Trustees and charges it with the responsibility for and conduct of the University. The Trustees, in turn, have promulgated The Policies of the Board of Trustees, et al that represent a constitution which provides basic principles of policy and organization. The Policies of the Board of Trustees, et al vest authority in the Chancellor of the University and in campus presidents and legally established governance as the appropriate vehicle for the involvement of all constituents: faculty, staff, administration, and students. In this regard, The Policies of the Board of Trustees, et al accord official recognition to the close interrelation between the exercise of the legal authority of the president and his or her obligation to accept constituent participation through governance.
Article X of The Policies of the Board of Trustees, et al, among other provisions, empowers and directs the faculty to develop by-laws for the conduct of its affairs. Substantive actions taken in the course of that conduct are advisory upon the president and are a recognition of his or her legal authority. Furthermore, those provisions of by-laws concerning consultation—how, when, and where the president consults with his faculty—are subject to his or her approval. It is understood, of course, that by-laws often contain procedures for consultation among faculty in addition to provisions for presidential consultation with faculty. The latter only is spoken to in Article X.
When the president accepts provisions of local by-laws concerning consultation, the Trustees, through Article X, and the Chancellor respect this endorsement and these provisions become, thereby, part of local policy and must provide a reliable framework for campus governance. In this regard, a president is expected to adhere to policies which he or she has accepted for his or her administration.
Since governance must remain responsive to changing conditions on each campus, the validity of by-laws rests firmly upon the continuing confidence in which they are held. By-Laws, once approved, should not be used to require adherence to outmoded or bad practice by either the faculty or the president. The campus community must remain ready to recognize legitimate objections to practices or procedures which no longer adequately meet the needs for which they were designed. In order for governance to operate effectively, provisions must exist in each set of by-laws to permit the president and any constituent included in the governance vehicle to initiate review and modification when by-laws fail to command the confidence of those who are expected to observe them.
By-Laws are the manifestation of the university's commitment to governance. They have their legal basis in authorization by the Board of Trustees and their effectiveness results, in the most practical sense, from the confidence they enjoy in the campus community. If governance is to survive, it must draw strength from its success in meeting the needs for which it was designed. It must not rely upon external forces. Its validity is adequately supported in the legal recognition of governance by the Trustees as essential to the proper conduct of a university.
From the Faculty Senate Bulletin, Volume 8, Number 3, June-July 1973