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As Benjamin Ginsburg and Dan Power describe elsewhere in this forum, changes in higher education are placing new strains on traditional notions of shared governance. The same diffuse, complex forces that are challenging traditional ways of delivering a college education are pushing colleges and universities toward a more administrative model of decision making. The rise of the administrative university also challenges the role of the faculty within traditional shared governance models, which center on shared responsibility and joint action. If the faculty wishes to remain relevant in shared governance systems today, we must find new ways to assert our influence within existing structures and processes, create new structures and processes where necessary, and seek new opportunities to convince key decision makers of the value of our contribution to the governance of the university

Nearly fifty years ago, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) issued a joint statement with the American Association of Colleges and Universities. The 1966 Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities recognizes the role of the governing board, the president and the faculty in governing the university, and it describes how these actors should jointly make decisions. Generally, the board sets the overall mission and strategic goals of the university, the president helps set the university’s goals and leads it to achieve them, and the faculty has “primary responsibility” for the curriculum, the content of instruction, the conduct of research, and the status of faculty appointments. The Statement urges the board and president to recognize the faculty’s primary responsibility over these areas, to “undertake appropriate self-limitation,” and to overrule faculty decisions “only in exceptional circumstances, and for reasons communicated to the faculty.” The Statement further recognizes that even in those areas where the board or the president have primary responsibility, such as in setting goals, making budgets, or hiring presidents or other key administrators, the board and president should “be aided by” or “utilize the judgments of” other actors, including the faculty.

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©2013 Scott Peters



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