Consultant Continues Sessions on Shared Governance

Rodney Smolla

Rodney A. Smolla, president of Furman University

Wrapping up his second visit to Radford University, Consultant Rodney A. Smolla shared his general impressions at a town hall-style session Friday afternoon.

Smolla, president of Furman University, said he sees "no entrenched roadblocks" to achieving a healthy, efficient internal governance structure at RU. President Penelope W. Kyle and Provost Sam Minner both embrace a robust, streamlined system of governance, he told a group of about 60 faculty and staff members at the Hurlburt Student Center.

Smolla's visit was part of a continuing campus dialogue spearheaded by RU's Task Force on Internal Governance Reform. In June he met with focus groups of faculty and staff members to explore current practices and procedures. He said Friday he will meet in February with the Radford University Board of Visitors to present his findings and will revisit the campus after that.

The consultant met Thursday with the Faculty Senate and Friday with the Administrative-Professional Faculty and Staff senates. At the town-hall session he briefly summarized his general impressions. He will submit a detailed written report within two weeks.

Smolla said RU faces many of the same managerial issues seen in any workplace, including employee complaints about red tape and the inability to make changes quickly. Requests for more training, streamlining of procedures and more input on policy issues are almost universal at state institutions such as public universities, he said.

More specific to RU, Smolla said he thinks meaningful governance changes can be made within the existing structure by reducing the number of faculty committees and focusing them more sharply on administrative or academic functions with less overlap. "The simpler the governance system, the likelier you'll get good results," he said.

Among student leaders with whom he spoke, Smolla said, there is a positive feeling about issues that matter most to them and a consensus that their concerns are heard.

Smolla is to submit a detailed written report to the campus internal governance group in mid-November.

Oct 29, 2012
Deanne Estrada
(540) 831-6713