Shortly after the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Utah’s acceptance into the Pac-12 athletic conference, Jerry Peterson from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and then staff member Sierra Swearingen extended an invitation to the shared governance leaders at each Pac-12 university to attend a meeting in Boulder, Colorado. The purpose of this meeting was to determine if each of the member institution’s shared governance organizations might benefit from collaborative discussions between their individual Senate leaders. Ten of the Pac–12 athletic conference universities sent a member of their Senate leadership team to this fall 2011 conference. This introductory meeting had an obvious shared governance focus, but the group also delved deeper into potential collaborations in the areas of faculty-student issues, course sharing, recruitment and retention of faculty and a variety of other topics. All in all, this first meeting was a tremendous success and laid a strong foundation for future meetings.
In the spring of 2012, Washington State University hosted the PAC 12 governance leaders at its extended campus in downtown Seattle, Washington. At this early point, the faculty group did not have any formal bylaws, name or mission statement, but was still uniquely bound together with a common interest in improving shared governance capabilities on each of their home campuses, and exploring collaborative opportunities between the participating institutions. Kenneth Struckmeyer, Bob Greenberg, and then staff member Doreen Branson were instrumental in the planning and organization that took place to hold this second conference.
The spring 2012 conference was well attended, with nine universities sending not only members from their Senate leadership teams, but also members of their administrative staff. During this event, the faculty members and administrative professionals heard from the Deputy Commissioner of the Pac-12 athletic conference Kevin Weinberger, Executive Director of the Coalition on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) Barbara Allen, and also Washington State University Provost Warwick Bayly. Barbara Allen provided tremendous insight and advice to the group on potential trajectories that the organization could move toward. Kevin Weinberger outlined the preliminary plans for the new Pac-12 television station. Warwick Bayly also discussed a variety of topics centered around recent Provost discussions on Pac-12 academic collaborations and other possible avenues for sharing amongst the universities.
During the spring of 2012 conference, the faculty leaders in attendance discussed challenges that were currently present on their home campuses and shared solutions that were working at each of their institutions, in the hopes that other institutions in attendance might benefit. Additionally, the shared governance staff/professionals met and discussed many topics of mutual interest. The entire group recognized the importance of staff support in the execution of shared governance at each of their respective universities.