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University Handbook

Section 3

Shared governance is at the heart of American public higher education, and is also a critical component of the accreditation process.  The most widely recognized model of shared governance functions with an emphasis on academic freedom and transparent processes (Trakman,2008) .  In recent years, several other shared governance models have emerged in response to increasing pressure from a variety of stakeholders including students, parents, legislators, and federal regulation. Nevertheless, the traditional model of shared governance is the primary framework used in institutions of higher education.

The Higher Education Program and Policy Council outlined six principles of shared governance (American Federation of Teachers, 2006) . The Council emphasizes the role of faculty in setting academic standards, requiring academic freedom, owning academic personnel status, establishing faculty senates, providing accreditation support, and participating in shared governance. Although the composition of shared governance bodies differs between institutions, the principle of involvement remains central to the shared governance process.  Indeed, the AFT suggests that all levels of faculty and staff should be involved in committees, task forces, and decision making bodies that directly affect the work of the constituents.

Similarly, the AAUP (1966) recognizes the interdependence of multiple constituents that comprise a university.  While policy may be initiated by either faculty or the institutional leadership, a primary goal should be to ensure that all voices contribute to the discussion.  Weighting of representative constituents will differ based on the content of the policy. For example, curriculum is the primary responsibility of faculty, so policy related to curriculum and instruction should emanate from the corps of instruction while allowing relevant parties an opportunity to voice ideas on the matter.  On matters related to internal operations, the widest possible input should be obtained from all constituents. In all instances, input from the shared governance constituents is advisory to the President of the university.

  1. Shared Governance and Committees
    1. Constituencies Involved in Shared Governance
    2. Senate and University Council Structure
    3. General Faculty Meeting
    4. University System Committees
    5. Atlanta Regional Consortium for Higher Education (ARCHE)
    6. Departmental Bylaws and Department Faculty Council
    7. College Bylaws and College Faculty Councils