BoT to President to Provost to Faculty

Detailing the governance structure that operates SPU

At all times at least one third of the Board of Trustees must be made of members of the Free Methodist Church. (Sydney Lorton)

The recent fight over the statement on human sexuality has brought SPU’s governance structure into the limelight and it’s clear that many of these systems need explanation.

The Board of Trustees and the faculty at Seattle Pacific have clashed before when it comes to policies and decisions made by the board.

According to Adrienne Meier, the university archivist, in 1995 the board consisted of 33 members, 18 of which had to be affiliated with the Free Methodist Church.

“The number of Free Methodists required on the board has changed multiple times over the board’s history,” Meier said.

Meier also explained that the president of the university is often the communicative figure between the faculty and the Board of Trustees, and is appointed by the board.

According to the Seattle Pacific University Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws obtained by the Falcon, “the responsibility for the governance and control of Seattle Pacific University rests exclusively with the Board of Trustees.”

In these bylaws, it declares that “the Board of Trustees will consist of not less than 12 and not more than 18 Trustees.”

The bylaws say “at least one-third of the Trustees must be members of the FMC (Free Methodist Church), which means a member of a church within the FMC denomination.”

When it comes to amending or changing the University’s statement of faith or mission statement, the board requires a three-fourths vote to do so. This is the same situation for modifying the affiliation that SPU has with the Free Methodist Church.

According to Article XI, Section 1 of the SPU Bylaws, the Board of Trustees can appoint an Ad Hoc Committee to discharge certain duties, such as a review of the university policies and statements of faith and human sexuality.

The Board of Trustees has a direct relationship with the First Free Methodist church, as mandated by their bylaws.

While the Board of Trustees is the governing body of the University, most of the everyday functions of SPU are carried about by the faculty.

According to the SPU faculty governance constitution faculty are responsible for implementing curriculum, methods of instruction, degree requirements, admission and retention requirements, and all other matters relating directly to the academic program.

The way the faculty decides on curriculum, and other aspects of the student experience at SPU, is through the faculty senate. Every faculty member (tenured and tenure track professors) is a voting member of the senate, with the faculty council presiding above them.

Faculty council consists of three members; The current faculty chair as elected by senate, the faculty chair elect who takes over the next year, and immediate past faculty chair who was chair the year before.

Every faculty member answers to the Provost and the President. Currently, Dr. Laura Hartley is serving in both of these roles. The President is responsible for selecting faculty and hiring them. He also supervises over senate meetings and serves as the liaison between the faculty and the board of trustees on issues of policy.

Faculty senate can set policy for academic affairs, but when it comes to other areas of campus life, such as student affairs, they are merely collaborators, with the board getting the final say.

The President is selected by the Board of Trustees and the Provost is selected by the President.

As SPU’s struggle with the statement on human sexuality continues, the University’s governance structure will continue to be relevant.