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There are many challenges to ‘shared governance’ at institutions of higher learning, including the fact that there is no consensus as to exactly what constitutes effective and appropriate shared governance. The document cited most often in regards to shared governance is the 1966 Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities, 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).[i] The document lays out a set of broad principles, without giving specific instructions as to how to implement them.

Two recent articles from the Chronicle of Higher Education illustrate the diversity of opinion on the state of affairs with regards to shared governance. In his 2009 article entitled, "Exactly What Is ‘Shared Governance’?" Gary Olson, then provost at Idaho State University, offers a view of shared governance where input from all groups is balanced. He makes the statement that “[s]hared governance is much more complex; it is a delicate balance between faculty and staff participation in planning and decision-making processes, on the one hand, and administrative accountability on the other.”[ii]In contrast is a 2011 article by faculty member John Lachs entitled, Shared Governance Is A Myth. Lachs goes so far as to state, “….that faculty influence on the operation of the university is an illusion, and that shared governance is a myth.”[iii]

Ultimately, shared governance is not guaranteed, but it is generally considered to be a goal worth striving to achieve. Within our own faculty ranks, there are greatly divergent opinions regarding the importance of shared governance. Some choose not to be engaged in the decision making processes, while others hold that shared governance is good and necessary for the vitality of the institution.

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©2013 Jeffrey L. Funderburk



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