Hi, everybody. It’s been fun to have a little mid semester vacation (thanks Realist, for the idea, and everybody for the contributions), and I was going to try to stay away all week (to emphasize the point that this really is not just my thing, but our thing (cosa nostra? I won’t go there)). I’m itchy, though, to get some stuff up, too–it’s piling up on me; plus, I am just not very good at sitting by silently. It’s a flaw.
Check this piece out from the Chronicle on shared governance:
Administrators appear to honor teachers’ desire for influence by establishing faculty senates and placing interested faculty members on a host of committees. Young professionals embrace committee assignments eagerly, believing that it is their responsibility to contribute to the governance of their colleges and delighting in the power they think this confers on them. It takes years of rank and the bittersweet experience of extensive committee service to realize that faculty influence on the operation of the university is an illusion, and that shared governance is a myth.
Committees report to administrative officers who are at liberty to accept, reject, or substantially alter faculty recommendations. In many cases, deans or subdeans convey to the committees they sit on what outcomes the administration considers acceptable. This not only guides deliberations but also casts a pall of futility over contrary conceptions. Only rarely does a committee offer recommendations not in line with the prior ideas of top administrative officers.
One would think that faculty senates exercise jurisdiction over a range of college life and policy. In reality, the right of many senates does not extend beyond making recommendations to the president, who is under no obligation to accept them. The processes of guiding and tempering conversations that occur on committees are even more visible in senates: Presidents or their representatives indicate what recommendations they wish to receive and, after a bit of thrashing about, the faculty members produce them.
Read the rest, then respond in the poll (or the comments).