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Consultation

Overview of Consultation

In the Academic Senate, consultation is a formal process that involves

  • A written request to comment on a written proposal

  • A written response

In all cases, the request and the response come from groups or individuals with clearly articulated authorities. Examples include departments, graduate groups, and Senate committees, deans, etc.  In the context of faculty to faculty requests, consultation involves groups of faculty issuing and responding to a request. Chairs of departments, Senate committees, etc. cannot consult on behalf of a group of faculty.

Importantly, Senate consultation is distinct from everyday meanings of consultation -- “I’ve talked to this person who is involved with this”. While these informal conversations can (and should) inform the development of policies and programs, they do not constitute consultation.

Consultation is central to the processes by which proposals for new degree programs, academic units, administrative policies, etc. are strengthened, and the Senate and administrative policies governing such processes outline the expectations for consultation.  Ultimately, our processes work best when they involve a combination of informal conversations (e.g. regular meetings of Senate leadership with administrators) and formal consultation (i.e. the review of written proposals with a written response).

Examples

Senate and Administration:

Informal Conversation: Effective shared governance requires ongoing communication between the faculty (through the Senate) and the administration.  At the campus and system level, regular (ranging between weekly and monthly) meetings between Senate leadership and campus and system leaders allow participants to think collaboratively about potential approaches to challenges and issues. They also afford opportunities to share emerging plans or issues and, thus, to avoid surprises.   Such collaborative discussions may also take place in the context of regular committee meetings.  In all cases, these conversations recognize that the different roles and responsibilities of faculty and administrators provide each with useful and important perspectives on policy and practice.  At its best, shared governance integrates both perspectives.

Consultation: At the point that a specific policy or recommendation is necessary, as with any other consultation process, a written proposal/document is provided for consideration, with a written response.  

Faculty to Faculty:

Informal Conversation: There are many occasions when faculty are working on proposals for programs – undergraduate or graduate – that have an impact in some way on another program.  Programs may partly overlap, or one program may count on the resources of another to ensure its students have appropriate skills.  

In these situations, it is advisable to have informal conversations as proposals are developed.  These conversations provide valuable advice, but are most often between two individuals.  As is the case for all Senate matters, individuals cannot speak for their groups without endorsement.  Conversation does not constitute consultation.

Consultation: Once a proposal is complete, consultation, as outlined in relevant Senate and administrative policies, creates a process for a formal review by a faculty or a committee and associated written response. 

- Academic Senate, May 2018


Guidelines for Administration Consultation with the Faculty

As per Bylaw 40.11, the Regents have delegated to the faculty, through the agency of the Academic Senate, authority over the conditions for admissions, for approving and supervising curriculum (courses and programs), and for advising on budget, academic resources, and faculty personnel actions.  In general, major changes in policy or practice which affect faculty should – for the sake of good policy making and faculty morale – be developed in consultation with the faculty.  Consultation can ensure that well-intentioned policies do not have unintended consequences.

In the UC system, when we say consultation, we mean:

  1. It is in writing.
  2. It requests opinion that may change a proposal, and does not just inform us. 
  3. It is conducted with due attention to Senate process and protocol.

Any proposal should indicate:

  1. The problem or challenge that is being addressed
  2. How addressing that problem helps meet school or campus strategic needs
  3. The process through which the proposal was developed (discussions, resources, research, etc.).

For matters specific to an individual school, the School Executive Committee is the appropriate body for consultation; it serves as the Senate representative at the school level, and should advise the Dean on policy, including budget and planning, as per each committee’s bylaws.

For matters with institutional ramifications, the Academic Senate is the appropriate body for consultation (senatechair@ucmerced.edu).The Senate will designate specific committees as lead committees for review, but will also send proposals to all committees, as well as (often) School Executive Committees and, as relevant, the School Curriculum Committees.  The usual turnaround time for review is 30 days, but it can be expedited.  

- Academic Senate, November 2016


1 Formerly Standing Order 105.2 of The Regents


Consultation Procedure

Information on consultation procedures and a general description of Senate work flow upon receipt of a request is available here