Five College Committee Taxonomy

The Five College Consortium manages a diverse array of committees, but in broad terms these groups can be classified as falling into one of three main categories: (1) Governance & Strategy; (2) Program & Project Management; and (3) Community Building.  The lines between the categories are not always clean, and each group may engage in work outside its primary focus area, but the descriptions below are intended to provide guidelines and common terminology across FCI activities.

Governance & Strategy Committees

Committees, councils, and boards within this category have clear authority over the direction of Five Colleges, Inc., or some well-defined and substantial subset of FCI activity. The Consortium’s existence is highly dependent on the regular engagement of these committees and the service provided to them by FCI is accordingly high. Three governance bodies are required by the FCI bylaws: the Board of Directors, and two Board committees – the Investment Committee, and the Audit Committee. Three additional committees provide key leadership to FCI and advise the Board in its actions:  the Deans’ Council, the Principal Business Officers (PBOs), and the Joint Steering Committee. Other leadership committees oversee specific areas of collaboration across the Five Colleges. These committees are typically composed of senior leaders on the campuses who serve on a Five College committee ex officio (e.g., Library Directors). Examples of these additional leadership committees include:

Program and Project Management Committees

Committees in this category have been given responsibility by one or more Governance groups for a specific program, task, project, or event (either one-time or recurring), typically with a set deadline and clearly articulated outcome, and/or a defined scope of work. The scope and scale of responsibility of these groups is more focused than that of Governance and Strategy groups. These workgroups are responsible for activities and initiatives that have been identified as important to the mission of the Consortium, and their charters or charge letters should thus include a detailed description of the (financial and human) resources required to accomplish their assigned task, including what support (if any) is expected from Five College resources.1  Examples of Program and Project Management Committees include:

  • Information Security
  • Orientation Directors
  • Chairs of Five College majors and departments
  • Grant-funded project teams

Community Building Committees

Committees in this category serve primarily as “affinity groups” or “communities of practice” – gathering together colleagues from across the campuses to share expertise and build collegiality. Typically, these groups consist of individuals filling similar roles on their respective campuses.  Community and collaboration are central to the mission of FCI, and these groups can help to build networks and relationships that serve the broader aims and activities of the Consortium. Their informal nature means they can often be self-guided and/or can convene with minimal use of FCI resources. When these groups meet during work hours, members/attendees should seek supervisor approval prior to participation. Groups that wish to be formally recognized as Five College committees (identified on the FCI website, eligible to apply for FCI funding, etc.) are expected to register with FCI and commit to adhering to Five College standards of conduct and inclusion.2  Affinity groups may, from time to time, be called upon to undertake a specific project and thus temporarily move into the category of Program & Project Management. A list of “approved” or registered Five College Community Committees will be posted on the Five College website and reviewed annually.3 

External and Inactive Groups

Some groups are largely external to or independent of Five Colleges, but have an affiliation agreement for specific engagement or services, and/or provide an ex officio role for a member of the FCI staff. Examples include:

  • Learning in Retirement
  • NEPM (New England Public Media)
  • Massachusetts Review

Other groups existed at one time but are currently inactive (or meet so sporadically that no schedule can be discerned) and will no longer be listed on the Five College website or annual reports.


1Charge/charter letters should also include details on reporting requirements, scope of authority, and more.  Templates can be provided on request.

2The process for registration and review of such committees is still under development.

3The list of registered committees is still being compiled.