Ramapo College is in the process of establishing the President’s Advisory Council, a discussion forum with the mission of improving the communication between different constituencies at the school, President Peter Mercer announced.
Members of the new structure will include top administration officials, such as the president, the provost and deans of schools. In addition, 20 elected or appointed members representing the faculty and staff, current students and alumni will also join the council.
The council will not have decision-making responsibilities, as Ramapo already has such mechanisms in place. Instead, it will provide recommendations and guides for the administration to consider.
“Its main function is to be a clearing house of information,” said Mercer. “With all the sectors on campus represented, it provides the opportunity to discuss any issue that’s of consequence.”
Communication between different elements of the Ramapo community has been challenging in the past, and the council’s main goal is to work on that issue.
“One of the great difficulties of the College is that we operate in individual units, and when it comes to faculty and students in particular, we often operate in our own little orbits,” said Mercer.
The decision to establish the council was made after the evaluation team of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education recommended it in their 2010 report. The report suggested that Ramapo establish “a college-wide forum as part of shared governance system in which all constituencies can sit down, share information and have substantial discussion.”
This is the second time Ramapo has attempted to establish this type of structure after Middle States’ recommended it.
A few years ago, the College formed the constituency assembly, but “it didn’t really seem to capture people’s interest,” said Mercer.
The College is making some legislative changes to ensure that the new structure will remain active.
The first meeting of the council will be held on March 14. Some of the issues it will discuss may include the school’s budget, the construction on campus and the structure of the council itself.
Fiscal sustainability is another major issue that the College needs to address. Ramapo assembled a special task force in May 2013 to evaluate the institution’s budgetary issues. The results concluded that Ramapo is experiencing a structural deficit and needs a long-term plan to eliminate expenses or increase revenue.
“It’s structural, it’s built right in,” said Mercer. “So, that means we have to look at it differently than just saying ‘Let’s tighten the belts for one year and then it will go away.'”
Only members of the council and specially invited guests can speak at the President’s Advisory Council meetings. Students, faculty and staff who want to suggest a topic for the council to view should do it through their representative or contact the President’s Office directly.