Grad council asks regents to respond to breached policies

The board deferred responsibility to the administration.
March 24, 2009

The Executive Board of the Council of Graduate Students wrote a letter to the Board of Regents last week asking that the administration be held accountable for policies it broke during the quick decision to restructure the University of Minnesota Graduate School, but the board will not be acting on the request.
“[Senior Vice President and] Provost [Tom] Sullivan’s plans — revealed abruptly under the guise of an internal ‘restructuring’ rather than a major academic unit/centralized administration closure requiring approval — bypasses proper governance channels for major academic units and central administration units,” the letter read, which COGS President Geoff Hart said was mailed directly to the regents last week.
The letter draws attention to policies which may have been breached and requests assurance that the new structure will have shared governance, and students will play a similar role to the one they have under the Graduate School.
Board of Regents Chairwoman Patricia Simmons said all policies on board responsibility were previously reviewed and it determined the decision to restructure belongs to the administration.
“As long as no programs are changed — that is, added or deleted or modified substantially — board action is not required,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean the board doesn’t need to be adequately and well-informed about a decision of significance, and we are indeed informed.”
Hart, however, said he believes it is a matter the board should be addressing.
“The Board of Regents have been sort of out of the picture on this issue,” he said. “In a way we are trying to make them aware.”
The Daily reported on the breach of the University Senate Policy on Reorganization , listed in the letter, earlier this month, and Provost Sullivan denied in an interview any wrongdoing on behalf of the administration.
Simmons said whether the policy was breached is not something the board will address, because it is a different governance body’s policy.
The Faculty Consultative Committee would be responsible for acting if the policy was broken.
The letter also cites the Graduate School Constitution and the Board of Regents Policy on College Constitutions , which specifies that colleges have the authority to govern their own “educational and administrative affairs.”
The Graduate School’s constitution states one of the Executive Committee’s responsibilities is to “consider proposals for and recommend policy, implementation of policy, and changes in programs or administration of the Graduate School .”
There is no indication that the Executive Committee was asked to consider the policy before the announcement last month.
Sullivan confirmed in a previous interview Graduate School Dean Gail Dubrow , who is on the committee, was not included in the drafting of the policy because of “personnel matters,” though she was given a chance to sign on prior to the announcement.

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