As part of our ongoing institutional evolution, Sheridan’s Academic Council became our Senate over 5 years ago. In the spirit of continuous learning, this past academic year has been a good time to reflect on the work of Senate to date and make recommendations for its on-going operation and development.

AIS TaskforceOur Senate’s Terms of Reference were revised and approved by the Board of Governors in June 2016. In August 2016, as part of Senate’s maturation process and in anticipation of the first year of operation under the new Terms of Reference, the Vice Chair of Senate at that time, Mary Preece, and the Senate Secretary, Sheila Shaver, met with a governance consultant, Louis Charpentier. Their discussion focused on how Louis might work with Sheridan to provide governance coaching. Louis Charpentier, Principal and Founder of L.R. Charpentier Associates, came highly recommended from postsecondary Governance expert and author, Glen Jones, who is currently the Dean of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto (U of T). Glen had previously worked with Sheridan’s Board of Governors and the Journey engagement team that focused on Governance and had a good understanding of how Sheridan was operating in this area. Louis is considered a postsecondary governance expert and has recently retired from the University of Toronto where he served for many years as the Secretary to the U of T’s Governing Council (which is the U of T’s board of governors and which includes among its bodies the Academic Board with responsibilities similar to those of a Senate, in addition to others).

Sheridan’s leadership, faculty, staff and students have a shared goal of ensuring that our institution’s Senate is a model of good governance. With that goal in mind, the purpose of Louis’ coaching has been to support the Senate and its officers as they execute their respective roles in order to model and realize ‘good governance’. Supporting good governance at Sheridan has also included discussions with the Governance Sub-committee of the Board of Governors and the Academic Leadership Team.

At the beginning of the academic year and after meeting with the Senate Executive Committee, the Academic Leadership Team and the Governance Committee of the Board of Governors, Louis made a presentation to Senate on the principles of good governance. He referred to key documents and processes (e.g. Senate Terms of Reference, Senate Ad Hoc Governance Committee Terms of Reference, Final Report of the Academic Governance Focus Group, Universities Canada documentation) and began with an overview of the unique nature of academic governance. He addressed the principles under five general headings:

  • Unique Nature of Academic Governance
  • Membership
  • Roles & Responsibilities (including areas of responsibility of Senate, the Board of Governors and Administration
  • Nature of meetings
  • Evaluation

Download and view Louis Charpentier’s complete presentation, Principles of Good Governance. (PDF)

Louis’ coaching has provided and continues to provide recommendations on a variety of topics including: a) best practice advice on roles and responsibilities of the Officers of Senate b) effective meeting management c) Senate process improvements and d) assistance with developing meeting norms to encourage and engage members in respectful and fair deliberation. Louis has also been assisting with drafting an expanded and improved orientation and ongoing education program for all Senators that will be launched in September 2017. Additionally, he is providing guidance on drafting portions of the internal governance documentation for Senate itself.

To date, both Louis’ coaching and the work of the Senate itself over this past academic year has resulted in a productive learning experience for all involved. Thank you to all Senate members and those involved in supporting Senate for your on-going input and efforts!

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