Gitenstein praised by professor association

A reception was held for College President R. Barbara Gitenstein, who received the Ralph S. Brown Award for Shared Governance from the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

Gitenstein received the Ralph S. Brown Award on June 10 and attended a ceremony in Washington, D.C. The award recognizes college and university administrators who exemplify “shared governance.” Shared governance is the process by which various governing bodies of a school make decisions, including the administrative board, faculty, staff, students and others.

The award was presented by AAUP, a nonprofit organization of 45,000 members throughout American universities and colleges. AAUP supports tenure, academic due process and shared governance.

Candidates are nominated by support letters and biographical material at the local level, then selected by AAUP’s selection committee: AAUP’s president, secretary, and former and current chairs of AAUP’s Committee on College and University Governance.

The recipient is selected based on the demonstration of a strong commitment to shared governance and the ability to work with various people in bringing about substantial change.

Three faculty members and one staff member from the College nominated Gitenstein.

“When she arrived in 1999, the governance system was dysfunctional, unwieldy and complex . President Gitenstein introduced a simpler, speedier, more democratic system,” Michael Robertson, president of the Faculty Senate, said.

In most institutions, decisions are made at the top and passed downward, but Gitenstein’s reformed governance system allows different voices to be heard.

Gitenstein’s dedication to shared governance can be seen on two levels. In addition to being a democratic decision-maker, she also instilled a new democratic structure at the College.

“Even long after she’s gone, we’ve got a democratic system that is supported,” Robertson said.

Gitenstein also confirmed her admiration of the process. “Successes (of higher education) are always based on this concept of shared governance. Our dedication to collaboration and respectful dialogue requires that all stakeholders step outside of their comfort zone to serve the institution as a whole, not their singular program or division,” she said during her acceptance of the award.

The reception held last Wednesday, Oct. 11, was a chance to bring the Student Government Association (SGA), Staff Senate and Faculty Senate together. About three dozen students and a couple dozen faculty and staff members – about 60 people in all – came together.

The College hosted this reception last fall as well. Though the reception was not directly related to Gitenstein’s award, the two events happened to fall closely together. “It was a happy coincidence,” Robertson said.

At the reception, before the Ralph S. Brown Award was presented to Gitenstein, speeches were given by representatives of each government body: John Karsnitz, professor of technology studies and a member of the Faculty Senate, Magda Manetas, director of Student Life, and Christine Cullen, SGA executive president.