College Governors as a Collective Resource

David J. Schleich, PhD

As we move faster along the path of professional formation for the naturopathic community in North America, we would be wise to capture collectively and share the energy, networks and knowledge of the governing bodies of the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC) schools along the way. Currently, these groups have no formal method for talking to each systematically. The same is true for routine contact by them with non-profit, mutual associations where their graduates develop their careers (e.g., AANP, CNME, CAND).

Bringing together the trustees, directors and governors – including ex-officio officers – of the boards or advisory committees of our schools for an annual symposium is a wonderfully catalytic ingredient in the rich recipe of professional formation. Every year, governors could harness their collective wisdom and resources related to important educational, operational and policy issues and share them with all the schools and with state, provincial and federal associations and agencies who are part of the same professional momentum.

The naturopathic profession is shaping its place in civil society, but doing so among a wide variety of jurisdictions (states, provinces, internationally). There emerge inevitable diversity and differentiation not only in the art and practice of the professionals themselves, but also in the curricula and learning outcomes of the educational institutions that serve them (Skolnik, 1986, 1989; Smart, 1978). Competition for students, scarce research resources and ranking status in the higher education sector often ensue. The efforts of the AANMC to bridge those habits of exclusivity have been very useful and serve as a model to bring governors together, too.

Schools in Tandem, Not Competition

In some cases, the non-profit mutual association (e.g., a state or provincial voluntary medical organization) has been instrumental in the founding and nurturing of the non-profit school. That there would be a natural, enduring collegiality is not entirely assured, though. The schools or faculties that graduates of NCNM, for example, have created over the years (SCNM, UBCNM, NUHS, CCNM) are themselves part of a different typology of higher education institutions whose characteristics influence institutional development and local professional groups.

Meanwhile, our schools are increasingly seen by federal authorities and scholars of professional formation as social enterprises, distinct in real ways from the public and private sector higher education organizations present in the Carnegie typology that Dr. Keppler of NCNM reported on in the September 2006 NDNR. The important point, in any case, is that our schools, as social enterprise institutions (Alter, 2004), are in tandem rather than in competition with non-profit mutual associations representing the profession (Quarter, Mook and Richmond, 2003) … all the more reason for the governors of these social enterprises to put their heads together routinely.

Need for Coherence

Another important point in terms of the accelerating formation of the naturopathic medical community in North America is the enduring need for a verifiable, discernible coherence among curriculum, clinical education outcomes and program standards. The CNME does important work in establishing this foundation. However, there are additional pressures created by the nature of the institutions in which the programs are operating. For example, Bastyr’s governance priorities are, by virtue of its institutional context, going to have a different focus than, say, those of a single program college.

The approach of the Naturopathic Foundations Project is to draw on the collective knowledge and skill of teachers, scholars and clinicians from across the AANMC spectrum. Welcoming the collective wisdom and networks of the governing bodies of those same schools is a similarly valuable element in the establishment of the naturopathic profession in North America.

Scholars have long studied variables such as these that affect professional formation (Quarter, Richmond, Sousa et al., 2001; Quarter, Mook, Richmond, 2003; Ritchie, Weinberg, 2000; Salamon, 1987; Salamon, Anheir, 1992). Governance in the social economy differs in substantive ways among programs and schools in the public and private sectors, and the only way we are going to avoid stumbling blocks that will arise is to have our governors talk to each other across jurisdictions. Richie and Weinberg (2000) and others help us to understand this complex interplay among the stakeholders in such institutions by presenting a typology that attempts to describe the non-profit social enterprise more accurately.

Over the next three months, we will explore the nature of these typologies and explore why understanding them is critical to understanding professional formation and not being afraid of its occasional bumps and paroxysms. The accompanying chart sets the stage for that conversation by pointing out how we might classify our schools by funding source and orientation. Many stakeholders will be surprised, perhaps, to see just how fine the line is between our schools as “market-based organizations” and as “civil society organizations.”

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Alter SK: Case Studies in Social Enterprise: Counterpart International’s Experience, Washington, 2002, Counterpart International.

Quarter J et al: An analytic framework for classifying the organizations of the social economy. In Banting K (ed.): The Nonprofit Sector in Canada, Kingston, 2001, School of Policy Studies, Queen’s University and McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Quarter J et al: What Counts: Social Accounting for Nonprofits and Cooperatives. Upper Saddle River, 2003, Prentice-Hall.

Ritchie R & Weinberg C: A typology of nonprofit competition: insights for social marketers, Social Marketing Quarterly, 6(3), September, 64-71, 2000.

Salamon L: Of market failure, voluntary failure, and third party government: Toward a theory of government-nonprofit relations in the modern welfare state. In Ostrander, SA & Langton S: Shifting the debate: Public/private sector relations in the modern welfare state, New Brunswick, 1987, Transaction Books, pp. 29-49.

Salamon LM & Anheier HK: In Search of the Nonprofit Sector II: The Problem of Classification. Baltimore, 1992, Johns Hopkins University, Institute for Policy Studies, Center for Civil Society Studies.

Skolnik Michael L: Diversity in higher education: the Canadian Case. Higher Education in Europe 11(2):19-32, 1986.

Skolnik Michael L: How is the university differentiated from other societal institutions?, Higher Education Policy 2(3):37-40, 1989.

Smart JC: Diversity of academic organizations. Faculty incentives, Journal of Higher Education, 49(5):403-419, 1978.

David_Schleich_Headshot-248x300David Schleich, PhD, president of Truestar Health, is former CEO and president of Canada’s accredited CCNM, where he served from 1996 to 2003. His previous posts have included appointments as vice president academic of Niagara College, and administrative and teaching positions at St. Lawrence College, Swinburne University (Australia) and the University of Alberta. His academic credentials have been earned from the University of Western Ontario (BA), the University of Alberta (MA), Queen’s University (BEd) and the University of Toronto (PhD).

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