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Howard Petch: Collegial Governance at UVic

Submitted by Eric W. Sager and John Lutz

"UVic has a well-deserved reputation for its system of governance: for collegiality, for mutual trust among staff, faculty and administrators, and for exceptional administrators.

There is one 'great moment' in the evolution of the system. In his first term, Howard Petch sought means to guarantee that academic administrators had the demonstrable support of their constituents. The result was a set of clearly defined procedures for the selection of administrators—chairs, deans, vice-presidents, and presidents.

The procedures required ratification ballots: members of the constituency to be served had the opportunity to ratify the selected candidate. The 'Petch Procedures' were 'one of the most significant innovation'” of Petch’s presidency and one of his 'finest legacies to UVic' (Peter Smith, A Multitude of the Wise, 194-5).

The effects of the procedures are profound. One cannot govern well without the support of the governed. No policy is implemented without extensive consultation. Positive changes in policy, resource allocation, and strategic direction are facilitated when implementation is based on trust and confidence.

The procedures struck a balance between participatory democracy and administrative authority that is rare among universities. The inauguration in 1977 of the “Petch Procedures” is one of the great moments in UVic’s history."

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