Middle States Report

Campus Governance & Administration

System-wide Governance

It is significant that every educational institution in the State of New York—elementary level through higher education, public and private-belongs to the legal entity of The University of the State of New York, which is governed by the Board of Regents, administratively headed by the Commissioner of Education. The State University of New York, consisting of 64 institutions including professional schools, university centers, and four-year and two-year institutions, is governed by a Board of Trustees. The administrative head of the SUNY System is the Chancellor. The University at Albany is the senior campus of the State University of New York. Each campus of the SUNY System has its own University Council appointed by the Governor, with the exception of a student who is elected by the student body. In addition to these members, the University President and Vice Presidents and representatives of the faculty and alumni attend Council meetings.

University-wide Governance

The University at Albany may be one of those unusual, increasingly rare campuses where governance appears to work effectively and relatively efficiently—as perceived by both administrators and the faculty—at the University, School, and College levels. In an era in which effective campus governance is all but rare, there is a consensus at the institution that the values of shared governance are alive and well.

More specifically, the internal governance of the campus, the University Senate, composed of faculty, students, and professional staff, has responsibility for developing academic policies and recommendations pertaining to academic and educational concerns of the University. Selected University administrators serve as ex officio members. The Senate has a variety of Councils that are responsible for superintending the actual work of the Senate, and each Council has established standing committees that focus on specific issues. The University Senate routinely approves a variety of academic proposals (e.g., new courses, curricular changes) without participation by the campus administration. However, regarding more substantive policy matters, the Senate serves in an advisory capacity to the President. The President and Provost meet regularly with the Executive Committee of the Senate to discuss a variety of administrative concerns, and a number of Senate representatives are placed on advisory committees and task forces addressing such issues as budgetary priorities and facilities planning.

Faculty are organized among eight schools and colleges at the University, and the governance patterns within these units vary depending upon the size and nature of the academic unit. It is significant that the largest unit, the College of Arts & Sciences, has the most active governance structure, with six standing committees reporting to both the Faculty Council and the Dean, and whose members are determined within the Faculty Council. The other Schools and Colleges also provide in a variety of ways for substantive faculty involvement in governance.

The administrative organization of the University consists of a chief administrative officer, the President, with five divisions, each headed by a Vice President (Academic Affairs, Research" Student Affairs, Finance & Business, and University Advancement). In addition to the Vice Presidents, the heads of four support offices report directly to the President. The most recently created administrative office focuses on governmental relations, which has proven critical to the University's success in building partnerships and securing resources for the campus.

In summary, the University is effectively organized with a strong system of shared governance. The University is fortunate to have attracted a superb and deeply committed faculty and an outstanding staff, both dedicated to the University's vision. The Team also applauds the strong leadership of the President and Provost for developing strong relations with external constituencies and for creating on campus an environment of collaboration and cooperation. They meet regularly with various committees and other groups on campus to ensure effective communication. One important reason for the University's success over the past decade has been the continuity of strong and stable leadership, beginning with the able leadership of President Swygert, with President Hitchcock serving then as Vice President for Academic Affairs, leading to her presidency, with current Provost Judy Genshaft having served earlier as Dean of Education.

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