CWU forms the joint governance sense making group


Brevin Ross

Photo of Black Hall.

Megan Rogers, Assistant News Editor

CWU’s Joint Governance Sensemaking Group met for the first time on Nov. 22 and will continue to meet throughout the course of the academic year. The group is composed of Amy Claridge, Walter Szeliga, Greg Lyman, Evlin Delgado, Michelle DenBeste and Sathy Rajendren. Along with executive sponsors, President Jim Wolphart and Mark Samples. 

According to an email sent out by Wolphart, the point of this group is, “to share what we have learned about shared governance and to get feedback on how it has been operationalized at CWU and how we can do this work better together.”

Mark Samples, co-sponsor of the Joint Governance Sensemaking Group and associate professor of music and the faculty senate chair, said, “the concept of shared governance acknowledges that governance is shared between different groups at the university, and traditionally that is, faculty administration and the board of trustees. [It] gives joint responsibility for each of those groups to make decisions collaboratively.” 

According to Samples, the group is starting off by reviewing literature to learn more about shared governance and how it is traditionally done, and the responsibilities of the different people within the group. 

“A lot of our work is going to be reviewing those documents and starting a discussion about, ‘okay if that’s what people have done in the past, how do we want to do it here at Central Washington University with our unique history, our unique challenges and our unique situation,’” Samples said. 

Amy Claridge, associate professor in child development and family science, and faculty representative for the joint governance sensemaking group, said the purpose of this group is to have conversations about what governance means to the university and then translate that into an actual practice. 

“This is just the beginning and then it [the joint governance sensemaking group] will lead to broader campus conversations with more faculty and importantly, students and staff, [and] other members of our community, and thinking about how we want to all be involved in how the university runs and how decisions are made,” Claridge said. 

Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Life, and Administrative Representative for the Joint Governance Sensemaking group Michelle DenBeste said the group helps the avoid worst-case scenarios which is when people care deeply about a certain thing that she needs to approve and she has to figure out how the university will afford it.

“If we do shared governance better, we will have had those conversations before it gets to that point and it doesn’t mean that everyone always gets what they want, but it does make sure that people have been heard,” DenBeste said. “I think it helps us make better decisions because it’s not just one group or one person making decisions and I think it also improves morale, people feel like they’ve had a part in the decisions that are being made.

Claridge said having groups like the joint governance sensemaking group is important because we need to be able to understand people’s different perspectives and positions. 

“’I’m a Family Systems scholar, we think about everything in terms of systems and the system at the top with all the power, the administration and the faculty, if we’re not getting along and we don’t have trust for each other, then it’s really hard for the other systems that are dependent on those people to have trust and to have strong relationships and a sense of belonging,” Claridge said. “This group of people, we all know each other a little bit and we’re willing to be really honest, and about hard issues that maybe we don’t usually talk about explicitly.”