Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 67.00
Liaison Micah Kenfield
Submission Date March 15, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Vassar College
PA-3: Participatory Governance

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.25 / 3.00 Alistair Hall
Sustainability Assistant
Dean of Strategic Planning
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Do the institution’s students have a representative body through which they can participate in governance (e.g. a student council)? :
Yes

Do the institution’s students have an elected representative on the institution’s highest governing body?:
Yes

A brief description of the bodies and mechanisms through which students are engaged in governance, including information to support each affirmative response above:

Per the mission statement of the college and Vassar’s principles of shared governance, students have an established mechanism for participation in governance and representation on the Board of Trustees.

The Vassar Student Association (VSA) holds its elections annually and allows students to serve as leaders of the organization, which is integral to programming and policymaking. Students are elected to the Executive Board, the Senate (legislative body), and the wide network of committees. The VSA President is the chief executive officer of the VSA, overseeing the day-to-day operations of the VSA and acting as a direct liaison between the student body and administration. The VSA President does not focus on any specific area, but rather oversees the efforts of the VSA leadership.

The Vassar Student Association President sits on the Board of Trustees, meets regularly with various administrators, including the College President, Dean of the College and Dean of Students, and sits on a number of College committees.


Do the institution’s staff members have a representative body through which they can participate in governance (e.g. a staff council)?:
No

Do the institution’s non-supervisory staff members have an elected representative on the institution’s highest governing body?:
No

A brief description of the bodies and mechanisms through which staff are engaged in governance, including information to support each affirmative response above:

We do not currently have mechanisms setup to formally have staff participate in college governance. However the President and Senior Officers have recently reinstated staff forums and there is regular communication with Union leadership.


Do the institution’s teaching and research faculty have a representative body through which they can participate in governance (e.g. a faculty senate)?:
Yes

Do the institution’s teaching and research faculty have an elected representative on the institution’s highest governing body? :
Yes

A brief description of the bodies and mechanisms through which teaching and research faculty are engaged in governance, including information to support each affirmative response above:

Per the mission statement of the college and Vassar’s principles of shared governance, there are a number of faculty represented on the Board of Trustees. The President of the College serves as the Chair of the Faculty and a member of the Board.

The faculty shall in general determine and shall direct educational policy. The faculty shall submit to the trustees for approval any proposed revision which involves substantial change in the character of academic degrees or considerable financial adjustment. Other proposals made by the faculty which embody important changes shall be the subject of trustee-faculty conference. Proposals of the trustees which significantly affect educational policy shall be referred to the faculty for consideration.

The faculty, charged by the trustees with responsibility for establishing policies for the effective conduct of the college as a residential community, shares with the president the power to authorize a charter or constitution of student government.

Conference between the trustees and the faculty on matters of common interest is an established practice. The following matters shall be subject to conference: any substantial change in educational policy; any prospective acceptance by the college of funds which may affect educational policy; any substantial alteration in terms and provisions of employment of teachers or in conditions affecting faculty members as tenants in college housing. 23 B. Conferences may be requested either by the trustees or the faculty through their appropriate committees.

Faculty are invited to attend monthly faculty meetings and elections are held annually for representation on a wide range of College committees. The Committees cover all parts of college operations and report to the respective Senior Officers and/or Board of Trustees.
Faculty elected to these appointments conference with the Board of Trustees and represent faculty viewpoints on Board Committees.


Does the institution have written policies and procedures to identify and engage external stakeholders (i.e. local residents) in land use planning, capital investment projects, and other institutional decisions that affect the community?:
Yes

A copy of the written policies and procedures:
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The policies and procedures:

The Communications Office coordinates with campus stakeholders to organize public community forums when large scale development decisions are being made, particularly for projects in the local Arlington neighborhood where the College is located.

Recent examples include Deer population management on the Vassar Farm and Ecological Preserve and the relocation of the Vassar Bookstore from campus to Raymond Avenue.


Does the institution have formal participatory or shared governance bodies through which community members representing the interests of the following stakeholder groups can regularly participate in institutional governance?:
Yes or No
Local government and/or educational organizations Yes
Private sector organizations No
Civil society (e.g. NGOs, NPOs) Yes

A brief description of the bodies and mechanisms through which external stakeholders are engaged in institutional governance (including information about each stakeholder group selected above):

Community members and other non-profits sit on the Vassar Farm and Ecological Preserve Committee and the Arboretum Committee.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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