Honoring 100 Years of Shared Governance at Colorado State University, August 14, 2015
Shared governance is hard.
Even the words that make it up are paradoxical. “Shared” derives a proto-Germanic root meaning “to cut” or “shear” — not exactly images of collaboration. Govern comes from the Greek meaning “to be the pilot at the helm.”
How do we collectively pilot the helm?
By doing what we’ve done for 100 years — codifying things that we know from our experience to be true and keeping a focus on those.
- Listening to each other is essential to learning.
- Multiple perspectives result in stronger ideas.
- Leading where people will not go is not leading.
- People can care about the same things as us — and care just as deeply — and yet we can legitimately disagree on how to get there.
- Disagreements — even passionate ones — can be civil.
- The debate of ideas is embedded into the scholarly mind, and a community of scholars not only accepts debate, we welcome and embrace it as part of our DNA.
You’ve all heard me say that I think the words we choose matter. And yet the words, hard as they may be, are the easy part of shared governance. The tempo of our working world, our own opinions and biases, competing expectations and senses of urgency — all of these fight against keeping a focus on the perspectives I just mentioned. So we need to remind ourselves and each other of those words, and to hold ourselves — and each other — accountable to them.
We celebrate that we have been doing that successfully for 100 years at CSU. And we set the stage now for the next 100. Thanks for all that you do. Thanks for your opinions and your debate. Thanks for making this a better place. And thanks for letting me serve here beside all of you.