The Advisory Committee to Review the Presidency has been struck by the Board of Governors and is in the process of lobbying the Trent community for ideas about what goals they want to see worked toward in the next presidential term. This is part of the committee’s larger goal of formulating a Presidential Mandate for the 2014-2019 Presidential Term.

The Presidential Mandate is a written set of goals that the committee, with help from the Trent community and guided by Trent’s Mission, Vision, as well as Trent’s Integrated Plan and Academic Plan, drafts in order to guide the University’s activities as they are overseen by the President.

Arthur spoke to Bryan Davies, the Chair of the committee and the Vice-Chair of the Board of Governors, and the “community canvasing” process going on until March 4 is their first step in the larger goal of drafting a Presidential Mandate.

Davies sums up well the first stage as an “exercise [of the Committee] to develop a good Mandate for the University for the next five years.”

In the survey process, staff, students, alumni, professors, professors emeritus, and community members can add input into what goals will guide the next Office of the President. In previous years, the Presidential Review process did not have the “benefit of the access to technology” and an institutional commitment to broader community consultation.

So far, the survey has been much more successful this year at gathering responses from the community than in the previous community consultation about the Presidential Mandate in 2009. There were 23 written responses in 2009 and as of February 20, 2013 there were 40 written responses. Davies mentions that the Advisory Committee to Review the Presidency is looking for broad responses as well as answers to specific questions.

“We’re reaching out to a broad community, as well,” Davies says, “even beyond the campus. The hope is that collectively, we [the committee] see a trend.” Davies adds, “President Franklin is a real believer in consensus building and consultation, and that is a belief held by our committee, too.”

The next step after gathering public opinion is actually drafting the Presidential Mandate and having it approved by the Executive Committee of the Board of Governors. If the document is not ready by the Board of Governors meeting on March 22, then it will be ready by the meeting on March 26.

If the Presidential Mandate is approved by the Executive Committee, who will more than likely consult with the Board according to Davies, then it will be publicly released for review and reference for the next community consultation.

Davies explains that the Committee has two major steps. “The first one is to establish what the appropriate presidential mandate should be for the next term (the 2014-19 term), what the priorities should be, essentially. The second part of the exercise is for our committee is to determine whether in its view the incumbent President would be an appropriate individual to fulfill that Mandate.”

The post-Mandate gathering of public opinion is where the Presidential Review process gets personal. The question put to the Trent community will be in regards to current President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Steven E. Franklin’s suitability to fulfill said Presidential Mandate.

Since the question is much more narrow and specific, this next round of public consultation, Davies suspects, will be much shorter. A possible formulation for this narrow question would be: “Given that this is the mandate that has been endorsed, how do you see the incumbent as being suitable for the position?”

“Really the President doesn’t have anything to do with this process, we will seek his input, but we don’t wait for him to decide anything, this is strictly the purview of the Board of Governors.”

In 2009, Bonnie Patterson announced that she would not continue on as President past the current term well before the Presidential Review committee was struck. As Davies explained to Arthur, “Usually an incumbent President does not signal in advance that they want to serve again until they see the Mandate.”

Even though the process is “independent of the current incumbent,” if you are interested in Steven Franklin’s ideas for what the next Presidential Mandate should look like, a reminder that his Open Office Hours for students will be on March 6 and April 3 from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

You can also discuss it with him casually while playing pool at Pappas Billiards March 28 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.