Bowdoin has always prided itself on its faculty governance. Faculty deliberate and decide the most important issues at the College. In such a system, it is important for faculty committees to work as efficiently as possible. To this end, the Committee on Governance proposed streamlining committees by merging certain committees and reducing the number of members on many others. The resulting drop in the number of committee slots from 140 to 90 has allowed some faculty members to have a break from committee work and others the time to participate in working groups which tackle specific problems that do not require ongoing committee oversight. William VanderWolk, Professor of Romance Languages and a former member of the Committee on Governance, said that a collective sigh of relief was heard around campus when the restructuring was announced. "We all recognize the importance of committees to the workings of the College and therefore to our daily lives, but we were aware that we needed to come up with a system that freed up more time for people to do their own research. Since the institution of the new system, interesting working groups have tackled issues as varied as international education, advising, academic preparedness and diversity. The committee reorganization plan was part of Bowdoin’s application for the Sloan grant, and we are delighted that they recognized its importance."
The following is the official policy text from the 2012-13 Bowdoin Faculty Handbook
Recognizing that it is in both Bowdoin’s and its faculty’s best interests that faculty members play a significant role in the governance of the College, and that faculty participation in governance occurs primarily through the work of committees on which faculty members serve, in 1994 the Bowdoin faculty unanimously adopted the following resolution concerning committee service:
Resolved that one of the obligations of membership in the Bowdoin faculty is active participation in the governance of the College, and that faculty members share that obligation equally. Therefore, it is further resolved that appointment, nomination, and election to committees should be accepted by faculty members as part of that obligation, and that such acceptance should be taken for granted unless a faculty member provides compelling reasons to the contrary in writing to the Committee on Governance.
In 2007, the faculty approved a revised committee structure and charged the Committee on Governance and Faculty Affairs (GFA) with responsibility for apportioning the committee work of the College across committees and among individual faculty equitably and efficiently, with the aims of engaging as many faculty as possible in shared governance, of making each faculty member’s committee service clearly meaningful, and of ensuring that over time all faculty can experience a reasonable balance between teaching, scholarship, and service. It is also GFA’s task to ensure that conflicts of interest between departmental and College- wide obligations are minimized.
Committee work is organized under the following rubric (* indicates elected committees):
Faculty Governance Committees
Appeals, Grievances, and Misconduct Committees
Oversight: College Life Committees
Oversight: Research and Safety Issues
Working Groups as appointed by GFA
Trustee Committees with Faculty Representation
To ensure the equitable rotation of faculty members through committees, the following guidelines apply:
The following sections provide descriptions of the committees to which faculty members are elected or appointed and a description of faculty election rules and procedures.