NJIT Faculty, Staff and Students
Robert A. Altenkirch
Monday, April 11, 2011
Toward a Shared Governance Model at NJIT
As you probably know, we are in the midst of a Self Study ( in preparation for an evaluation in the spring of 2012 by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), an accreditation evaluation that occurs every ten years. The Self Study effort is led by the Rapid Assessment and Steering Committee (RASC), whose responsibilities include determining key issues to be addressed.

In carrying out their efforts in coordinating the work of the Working Groups, who are focused on assessing our ability to meet the 14 Standards in the Characteristics of Excellence in Higher Education (, the RASC identified a need to improve our ability to respond in a timely and cohesive manner to issues of governance as they impact a number of the MSCHE Standards. As a result, the RASC has recommended that we pursue a process of articulating and developing a model of shared governance: balancing shareholder participation in planning and decision making with administrative responsibility, with clear delineation of responsibility and authority as delegated by the Board of Trustees (the entity that has all legal authority over the governance of the institution).

Elements of shared governance are in place in many areas of the university, including the Undergraduate Curriculum Review Committee, Faculty Council, Student Senate, among others, and such elements can be knitted together and organized better to improve shareholder participation and timely decision making. To that end, the RASC’s recommendation has been discussed with Faculty Council and the Committee on Academic Affairs, with generally favorable response to moving forward with such an effort, and the Board of Trustees approved a Resolution, amended over what is posted in the Public Session document on the Board of Trustees web site, at its April 7th meeting to that effect.  The Board has authorized  “the President and NJIT Senior Staff to work collaboratively with representatives of administration, faculty, staff, students, and alumni to create a University Senate or alternative models of shared governance for NJIT, to report on the design of the University Senate or alternative models of shared governance at the June 2, 2011, meeting of the Board of Trustees, and to implement the University Senate or alternative models of shared governance in the 2011 calendar year.” (see

While the timetable to report back to the Board of Trustees is aggressive, it is important to work in that timeframe in order to impact the Self Study and the upcoming MSCHE evaluation. By investigating shared governance approaches at other institutions and adopting those that would seem to fit NJIT best, we should be able to meet the Board’s directive. In order to do so, I will be appointing a Shared Governance Task Force to carry out the effort and recommend a model of shared governance for NJIT going forward. The Task Force will include individuals from all the shareholder groups. If you would like to volunteer or recommend a colleague to serve on the Task Force, please let me know in the next few days. I plan to appoint the Task Force at the end of this week or first of next week.