By Jason Fertig
Politics is on many people’s minds this year, so this is a good time to write about that topic.
But the politics I’m thinking about does not involve the presidency. Rather, I’m thinking about the politics of shared governance in higher education—specifically, the relationship between university senates and their administrations.
While shared governance sounds like an oxymoron, large, bureaucratic universities need to ensure an effective interplay between governing boards, administrations, and faculties. But contrary to what some faculty members think, the idea of shared governance does not mean equal authority.
In the interdependent university, Faculty Senate organizes the faculty to facilitate policy in areas such as curriculum and scholarship, and to represent the faculty on issues where collaboration is necessary (e.g. budgets). Required courses and new course approvals are examples of topics in the purview of a Faculty Senate. This all sounds like a reasonable idea, but it comes with a host of issues.
The idea of a senate representing faculty members is an old one, but in the contemporary university full of credentialism and administrative bloat, the relevance of that body is questionable.
With that in mind, I’m entering my fourth year on Faculty Senate at the University of Southern Indiana. The experience has given me much to reflect on, especially because I had the opportunity to be Senate Chair in the 2014-2015 year. CONTINUE READING HERE