Shared Governance Issues

Share governance refers to the shared responsibility that faculty, administration, governing board, and president have in governing the university. It is discussed in detail in the “Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities.” This statement was jointly formulated by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the American Council on Education (ACE), and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) in 1966 and is the standard by which the concept is understood. (Note that Marian University is a member of both the ACE and AGB.)

The idea of shared governance is that different stake holding groups in the university community have different areas of expertise and they should be primarily responsible for governance in their areas of expertise. The faculty have expertise and primary responsibility in the curriculum, methods of instruction, research, and faculty status. Here is what the Statement says in part about the faculty:

The faculty has primary responsibility for such fundamental areas as curriculum, subject matter and methods of instruction, research, faculty status, and those aspects of student life which relate to the educational process. On these matters the power of review or final decision lodged in the governing board or delegated by it to the president should be exercised adversely only in exceptional circumstances, and for reasons communicated to the faculty. It is desirable that the faculty should, following such communication, have opportunity for further consideration and further transmittal of its views to the president or board. Budgets, personnel limitations, the time element, and the policies of other groups, bodies, and agencies having jurisdiction over the institution may set limits to realization of faculty advice.

Shared governance means that the faculty has primary responsibility over programs (including their elimination), what is taught, how faculty teach, the evaluation and assessment of programs, the granting and denial of promotion and tenure, etc. That does not mean the other stakeholders, like the administration, president, Board of Trustees, etc. have no role to play. They do participate. However, the decision of the faculty should be respected and approved unless there are “exceptional circumstances, and for reasons communicated to the faculty.” Furthermore, “It is desirable that the faculty should, following such communication, have opportunity for further consideration and further transmittal of its views to the president or board.”

Shared governance is about respect for faculty members and their expertise. The faculty are not just employees. They are partners and collaborators in a substantive sense. Faculty members are qualified to make decisions in their areas of expertise and their decisions should be accorded the respect they deserve.

The proposal to eliminate political science ignores the concept of shared governance. Faculty members were never involved in discussions leading up to the administration’s decision to eliminate political science. The original proposal shows a complete lack of respect for the faculty by offering a two sentence rationale for closing the program. Just two sentences. It is almost as if the administration expected the faculty to just mindlessly do what they commanded. There was no attempt to make a convincing argument. The addendum to the proposal is not much better. There are eight single-sentence bullet points that mainly consist of misrepresentations and falsehoods. Once again, there is no attempt to provide details so the faculty could make rational decisions. Moreover, these rationales were easily refuted with facts.