IV. Definitions of Faculty and Shared Governance.


Definition of "Faculty"
Categories of Faculty Status
Criteria for Appointments to Faculty Rank



To discuss the "role of faculty in shared governance," the subcommittee initially had to establish working definitions of both "faculty" and "shared governance". On that basis, a description of the "domains" of different categories of academic affairs professionals could be developed.
 

Definition of "faculty".

Attempts to define the term faculty itself were made difficult by two somewhat different practices at Elon. As noted above, faculty rank has been granted to approximately 240 full-time members of the college, including many persons with primarily non-teaching functions. All persons with faculty rank attend the monthly faculty meetings. Those holding the rank of assistant professor or above (as well as those teaching more than eighteen semester hours in an academic year) may vote on matters that come before that body. In this broad sense then, "Faculty" refers to this wide group of professionals with academic rank, whose organization (see Elon College Faculty Bylaws) is chaired by the President of the College.

On the other hand, the Elon College Faculty Handbook in many sections uses the term "faculty" to refer to teaching faculty and distinguishes that category from administrators. For example, Section II-2 ("Faculty Contracts"), II-3 ("Faculty Rank and Responsibilities") and II-4 ("The Faculty Evaluation System") clearly are directed to teaching faculty. This use of the term "faculty" corresponds to customary usage in academic and public culture.

After much discussion, the subcommittee decided to use the somewhat broader definition of faculty - those appointed to academic rank by the Board of Trustees - in its subsequent conversations. As a consequence, discussions became focused on categories of faculty status and criteria for appointment to faculty rank. A listing of current faculty placed within the administrative and academic support categories is displayed in Appendix 1.
 
 

Categories of Faculty Status

Recommendation #1. The subcommittee recommends that the following description of faculty status be placed in the Elon College Faculty Handbook.
Elon College grants faculty rank to individuals on the basis of three types of institutional contribution. To this extent, three different categories of faculty status are recognized. These types are: a) teaching faculty, b) academic administrators, and 3) academic support professionals. These categories represent differences in primary role or fundamental contribution to the college. For the purposes of classification, each individual faculty member will belong to only one of these categories as their primary status at any one time. However, faculty members belonging to one category may sometimes perform duties associated with the other two categories. For example, those categorized as administrators and academic support professionals may have some teaching responsibilities; and teaching faculty may have responsibilities for academic support or program leadership roles.

The three categories of faculty are distinguished by the nature of their contracts with the college, by the descriptions of professional expectation pertinent to those roles, and by the evaluation procedures used to measure individual growth and competency.

Teaching Faculty. Teaching Faculty are those members of the college whose fundamental responsibilities are the instruction of students and the development of the scholarly or artistic forms of expression that are the basis of a college community. Teaching faculty are subject to professional and institutional expectations outlined in the Elon College Faculty Handbook.

Teaching Faculty status is limited to those whose performance assessment is linked to the completion of an annual Unit I (Faculty Self-Report) which describes teaching, scholarship, and professional/college service activities during the preceding year. Teaching faculty also participate in an annual review process which includes the department chair, and division dean. Furthermore, such faculty normally are subject to formal review by the Promotions, Tenure, and Professional Status Committee at various points during their career at the college. Teaching faculty typically are employed through annual contracts specifying nine months of service during an August-May period.

Administrative Faculty. Administrative Faculty are members of the college whose positions include oversight for the college as a whole as well as management of its broader educational goals and programs. The category of "administrative faculty" includes those holding academic responsibilities at the rank of vice president or above, all members of the Academic Affairs Council, and the Athletic Director.

Administrative faculty are typically employed through annual contracts which specify a June-May period of service. Their duties are specified formally in official position descriptions maintained by the college but may also include other responsibilities as assigned by the President or the Board of Trustees. They are subject to annual performance evaluations which include formal input from faculty they supervise as well as judgments rendered by their pertinent supervisor, the Provost, and the President.

Academic Support Faculty. Academic Support Faculty are members of the college who have supervisory responsibility for specific programs that provide educational opportunities for students, implement academic procedures, or otherwise support the educational mission of the college.

Academic Support Faculty typically are employed through annual contracts specifying a June-May period of service. Their duties are specified in formal position descriptions maintained by the college. They are subject to annual performance evaluations which include formal input from those they supervise as well as judgments rendered by their pertinent supervisor, vice president, and the Provost.
 

Criteria for Appointment to Faculty Rank.

Historically, appointment to faculty rank at Elon - and to promotion within those ranks - has been based on a variety of criteria, explicit and implicit. In the case of teaching faculty, the criteria and procedures for appointment to faculty status and for promotion are, for the most part, explained in the Faculty Handbook. Procedures and criteria in the case of administrative and academic support faculty are not clearly detailed. As noted above, faculty rank may be a residue of a personís former status as a member of the teaching faculty, a concomitant of a currently held organizational role, or an indicator of career growth and institutional contribution.

The subcommittee chose not to examine the history of such appointments but rather to focus on criteria or procedures for future appointments.

Recommendation #2. The following language on appointment to faculty rank is recommended for the Faculty Handbook.
 

Appointment to Faculty Rank: Academic Support and Administrative Faculty

At Elon College, persons holding administrative or academic support positions are appointed to faculty rank on the basis of three criteria: a) pertinent professional qualification b) relationship to the educational mission of the college, and c) level of supervisory responsibility. Generally, those appointed to faculty rank should meet all three criteria.

Pertinent professional qualification. Individuals considered for faculty rank must hold professional degrees from accredited colleges or universities. These degrees are to be appropriate to a field of academic specialization or to a position of program leadership. Normally, these degrees should be at the master's degree level or above.

Relationship to the educational mission of the college. Candidates for faculty rank must occupy positions that are central to the broader educational goals of the college as reflected in the institutional mission statement. This connection should be made clear as grounds for the appointment.

Level of responsibility. Normally, those appointed to faculty rank should have clear supervisory status, understood as educational leadership of other faculty or academic support staff. In general, faculty status is appropriate only for those who hold key positions of academic program leadership or coordination.
 

Recommendation #3. It is further recommended that the college develop both criteria and procedures for promotion in rank of academic support and administrative faculty
 

Definition of "Shared Governance".

Shared Governance refers not only to a spirit of cooperation among different constituencies in institutional decision-making but also to a set of more formal procedures supporting that cooperation. As a general principle, shared governance processes should be as open and inclusive as possible. Furthermore, different institutional consistencies should be consulted as early as possible in the policy-forming process. This encouragement of a democratic spirit for institutional decision-making is recognized in the collegeís statement of "Administrative Policy" (Section I-4 of Elon College Faculty Handbook), which is reproduced here:
 

"The administration of Elon College makes every effort to practice democracy in administrative matters. Authority for the administration of the College is vested in the Board of Trustees and in its selected administrative officer, the President. The faculty, however, is given the responsibility of making the decisions that involve the teaching program of the College. Faculty committees are asked to make studies and to report to the faculty which renders decisions within the scope of its authority. On matters beyond the authority of the faculty, the faculty may make recommendations to the Board of Trustees. The administration recognizes that the most important function of the College is teaching. It is the aim of the administration to maintain an atmosphere that is conducive to good teaching and where faculty members can pursue the search for truth in an atmosphere of academic freedom. In a democracy, such a freedom is obtained only as the faculty assumes its responsibility to guard that freedom against abuses."
This statement also recognizes that different elements of the college hold somewhat different responsibilities. Shared governance processes do not attempt to blur these differences but rather to integrate them in ways that recognize the value of distinctive perspectives and concerns. These differences in institutional role were discussed by the subcommittee as "domains" or "areas of special responsibility". To use such terminology is not to suggest that certain categories of faculty have sole responsibility for certain aspects of institutional life. Instead, it is to claim that these categories have special responsibilities to develop policy and to coordinate its approval under the conditions of shared governance.
 

Special Responsibilities of Teaching Faculty. According to the AAUP publication, "Assessing the Facultyís Role in Shared Governance" (p. 12), teaching faculty commonly have special responsibilities within the areas of "curriculum, subject matter and methods of instruction, research, faculty status, and those aspects of student life which relate to the educational process." This description of duties is consistent with Elonís "Statement of Administrative Policy," which emphasizes the teaching faculty role (vis-à-vis that of administrators) in decision-making related to the teaching program.

The AAUP description is also similar to the statement of "Specific Powers" of Faculty presented in Section 2, I-5 of the Faculty By-Laws (Elon College faculty Handbook). However, it should be recognized that such an interpretation depends on a narrow definition of Faculty (those whose primary responsibility is teaching) rather than a broad one (i.e., all persons who hold faculty rank).
 

Special Responsibilities of Administrative Faculty. As noted above, administrative faculty are members of the college whose positions include oversight for the college as a whole as well as management of its broader educational goals and programs. As "staff" members of the college, administrative faculty have formally defined areas of responsibility, including supervision of designated personnel. In turn, they have a reporting relationship to supervisors who ultimately include the college President. In addition to their supervisory and evaluative duties, administrative faculty have special responsibilities for the sound financial management of the college, for the development of institutional relations with external groups and organizations, for the appropriate coordination of all college constituencies, and for the execution of college policies as directed by the Board of Trustees.
 

Special Responsibilities of Academic Support Faculty. As indicated above, academic support faculty are members of the college who have supervisory responsibility for specific programs that provide educational opportunities for students, implement academic procedures, or otherwise support the educational mission of the college. Although Academic Support Faculty may have teaching and advising duties, their central responsibility is to ensure the effective execution of programs and services pertinent to the Academic Affairs area.

Areas of special responsibility for academic support staff then are consistent with their areas of program supervision. Examples include advising procedures, career planning, library, student personnel services, and athletics.

Again, the above descriptions of "areas of special responsibility" are not intended to mean that certain categories of faculty have sole proprietorship for policy or practices in these areas. Instead, it is argued that these categories of faculty should play principal roles in the development and approval of policies in their areas of special expertise.

While all three categories of faculty are critical to effective policy development and implementation, the following document will focus especially on the role of teaching faculty and academic support faculty in this process. It can be argued that administrative faculty currently have several bodies focusing on policy development and review (e.g., Academic Affairs Council, Administrative Affairs Council, etc.). Membership on those councils has been a key element in the definition of administrative faculty status. For that reason, the work of the subcommittee has focused on structures and processes pertinent to decision-making by standing committees and by the faculty as a whole. Such structures parallel and augment the collegeís various administrative councils.
 


Return to Report of the Academic Council Subcommittee on the Role of Faculty in Shared Governance.