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Regulation Nation

14 Oct Posted by in Academics, Business, Guidelines, Policies | Comments Off on Regulation Nation
Regulation Nation

We’ve got an interesting problem, and not an easy one. Numerous faculty and department chairs believe that we, as a University, have become over-regulated. They are certainly correct that rules have proliferated, and also that they emanate from a variety of offices (business affairs, safety, assessment, equity, ITU, etc) that do not really talk with each other. No single office or individual tracks what’s being laid on the University working stiff.

Obviously, the external regulatory atmosphere has become more demanding. I have most contact with SACS, our accreditation group, which just this summer escalated their oversight over certificate programs. But the feds and other interveners are actively involved as well. Pretty obviously, Mason was in some areas under-regulated in the past, when we were a fledgling research center, so even aside from new external requirements we probably needed some regulatory redress.

It’s also true that the national mood calls for more caution rather than less, partly because of the easy appeal to fear of risk, partly because of our excessively litigious climate. So it’s logical, sometimes almost automatic, to take the rules route in self-protection.

All of this needs some sorting, and I am setting up a group to look at the whole issue. It’s going to be hard to balance some faculty concerns — we have some budding anarchists in this area — with the external “realities” which we probably cannot quickly alter. We will doubtless need some expert help, and maybe there are some best practice examples from other places that we can call upon as well. I don’t anticipate an easy or entirely satisfactory process. But we should be able to cut back in some areas, explain better in others (one problem is a tendency to explain policy as “that’s the policy” without giving what may be quite legitimate reasons), and coordinate more carefully so we have a better sense of what an individual faculty or department chair is facing.

In the meantime, suggestions and examples welcome; and also a first effort from agencies within the University to see if they can spontaneously cut back a bit.