Is there anything you would change at Waterloo?
It’s possible: Despite their long history, universities aren’t immune to change. Digital technologies have fundamentally altered how people relate to factual information. Being resistant to commoditization, our teaching and research costs are mostly in personnel. Increasingly, research spans disciplinary boundaries and is collaborative. Global problems, especially with the environment, are becoming local and urgent. Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission charges us to better include Indigenous scholars and ways of knowing. The ever-growing body of scholarship on teaching and learning gives evidence as to how university teaching should evolve.
The university is always adapting and responding to challenges like these. Participation in the distinctive university apparatus called collegial governance affords faculty members influence in that process.
How collegial governance works at Waterloo
The University of Waterloo is organized on a bicameral model. Loosely, this means that our Board of Governors looks after the institution as a nonprofit corporation with an annual cash flow of about a billion dollars, and our Senate looks after the institution as an educational community of about 40,000 scholars (faculty, students, many staff).
It’s not a total separation of interests, however. To manage finances and risk, our Board must know the higher-education sector, its value and values, its trends, and Waterloo’s distinctive roles in it. To manage academic programs and policies, our Senate must promote academic initiatives that show an attractive cost-benefit and risk-reward tradeoff. Tensions are part of the model: autonomy versus dependence, academic freedom versus responsibility, individual versus group ambitions, etc.Continue reading “The FAUW Board: A great way to get started in collegial governance”