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Faculty in the Pac-12 join to collaborate, share best practices and tackle issues in higher education, including campus safety and sexual assault.

By Annalisa Purser, communications specialist, University Marketing and Communications

A new online repository of Pac-12 campus policies is now available to serve as a resource for faculty, staff, administrators and other interested individuals. The database will house information ranging from course sharing to faculty retention to faculty-student issues to budgetary issues to academic freedom to campus safety and sexual assault.

The online system is developed and managed by the Pac-12 Academic Leadership Coalition, or Pac-12 ALC, an academic organization run by faculty governance leaders, including the president of each university’s academic senate, as well as associated staff. The coalition focuses on issues of shared governance but has expanded to collaborate on a variety of topics relevant to higher education.

PHOTO CREDIT: University of Utah

Xan Johnson (current Academic Senate president), Maddy Oritt (executive director of the Pac-12 Academic Leadership Coalition and U Academic Senate secretary), Bill Johnson (president of the Pac-12 ALC and past president of the U Academic Senate)

Two years ago, the group committed to focusing on campus safety and campus climates around sexual assault because it was an important concern facing all institutions in the Pac-12 and an issue faculty felt affected students’ abilities to fully participate in academia. As a result, the University of Utah’s Academic Senate formed the Academic Senate ad hoc Committee on Campus Sexual Assault to develop a campus climate survey for the U, review results, coordinate follow-up efforts and action plans and administer future surveys.

“Sexual assault and campus safety has been at the forefront of many people’s minds, and our Academic Senate takes a holistic approach to the issues facing our campus,” said Bill Johnson, U Academic Senate past president and current president of the Pac-12 ALC. “The safety and well-being of everyone on our campus is important to us, so it followed that the Academic Senate would instigate an effort to address these issues in a disciplined and thoughtful way.”

Since then, three member institutions, including the U, have completed campus climate surveys. In an effort to collaborate and build upon best practices, these survey questions will be added to the new online repository to benefit other Pac-12 institutions.

“While it is important for each school to complete its own survey to understand the unique circumstances facing its students, we felt that sharing resources and best practices with one another would only strengthen what we learn from the process and provide insights beyond what we learn as individual institutions,” Johnson said.

In addition to the climate surveys, the repository will also house information about reporting policies and campus resources. The database will allow member institutions to upload documents about myriad other interest areas, search through policies and peruse white papers that summarize policies from across institutions.

“The idea is to increase communication between Pac-12 universities in terms of the policies, procedures and best practices on issues affecting all of us,” said Chris Sinclair, associate professor of mathematics and Academic Senate vice president at the University of Oregon. “Oftentimes, we have similar types of questions, and we hope this database will be useful in connecting us to what others are doing about common problems. Additionally, the website will have an internal component for members of the Academic Leadership Coalition where they can ask questions of each other and take these ideas back to their senates to have a more informed discussion.”

Faculty and staff are encouraged to visit the online repository once it opens in January. Members of the Pac-12 ALC will contribute pertinent documents to help build it into a useful resource. The information gathered at the beginning of the year will be used to inform the agenda of the Pac-12 ALC’s annual conference, March 3-5, 2017, on the University of Utah campus.