To:            Faculty

From:       Academic Council Subcommittee on the Role of Faculty in Shared Governance
                 (B. Beedle, J. Bissett, W. Boyd, J. Donathan, T. Henricks (chair), V. Fischer, C. Keller,
                 D. Redington, D. Thurlow)

Date:        November 22, 1999


Definitions of Faculty and Shared Governance
Academic Council
Faculty Meeting
Curriculum Committee and Curricular Planning
Relationship of Faculty to the Board of Trustees
Relationship to the President
Budget Committee
Research and Development
Professional Status, Promotion, and Tenure Committee
Committee on Athletics
Teacher Education Committee and Academic Appeals Committee
Concluding Remarks on Other Committees
Status of Academic Support Faculty

On November 8, the Subcommittee on the Role of Faculty in Shared Governance submitted its report to the Academic Council. That report is now available on the web via a link on the Academic Council’s website (; or it can be accessed directly at the following address: ( At the request of the Council, this summary of key principles and recommendations has been prepared. The following descriptions should be interpreted as a "guide" to the original document. That is, no attempt will be made to detail completely the arguments or procedures of the subcommittee or to discuss all thirty-one recommendations here. Instead, readers will be provided with brief overviews of major proposed changes and then referred to the original document for fuller treatments of those issues. To this end, complete web addresses for specific portions of the complete report have been provided.

Definitions of Faculty and Shared Governance (

Definition of Faculty. Underlying the proposed changes in the document is an understanding of the terms "faculty" and "shared governance". After much discussion, the subcommittee adopted a definition of faculty as those appointed by the Board of Trustees to faculty rank (currently, more than 240 full-time members of the college). The subcommittee then established three categories of faculty status - teaching faculty, academic support faculty, and administrative faculty - based on primary pattern of institutional contribution. Definitions of these three types are found under "Categories of Faculty Status" in the document as is proposed language for the Faculty Handbook (Recommendation #1). A list of individual faculty in the administrative and academic support categories (as defined in the document) is provided in Appendix 1.

The subcommittee did not propose changes in faculty rank for anyone currently appointed to this status. However, it did recommend that the college establish clearer criteria for future appointments to faculty status in the cases of administrators and academic support staff. Recommendation #2 suggests specific language for the Faculty Handbook that identifies "pertinent professional qualification," "relationship to the educational mission of the college," and "level of responsibility" as key elements. Finally, the subcommittee proposed a more formal system for possible promotion in rank for academic support and administrative faculty (Recommendation #3).

Definition of Shared Governance. The subcommittee’s definition of "shared governance" stems from its recognition of these three forms of faculty status. Shared governance refers not only to a spirit of cooperation among these constituencies in institutional decision-making but also to a set of more formal procedures guaranteeing that cooperation. The subcommittee acknowledged the continuing importance of a broadly-defined faculty community as well as the general value of inclusiveness in decision-making. However, it also emphasized that the different categories fulfill quite different roles in the educational mission. The "special responsibilities" of each category of faculty are detailed in the document (see "Definition of Shared Governance"). Most generally, the proposed changes in the governance system attempt to build these differences into a system of mutual cooperation and support.

Finally, the subcommittee articulated a "statement of principles" (see this subheading in the original document) to guide the proposed changes. Among the ten principles were descriptions of stages and types of participation in decision-making, a statement about the distinctive character of educational organizations, and a recognition of the need for training and institutional support for those performing newly defined roles.

Academic Council (

The subcommittee began with the premise that the most direct way of promoting shared governance is to work within the existing standing committee structure, a network of committees which encompasses every aspect of the academic program. Elected standing committees represent the front line of shared governance, the natural setting for working out the sharing of institutional responsibilities.

The Academic Council is a crucial link in this process by virtue of its position as the "coordinating committee of the faculty." The most effective way for the Council to promote shared governance, then, is to communicate more closely with chairs of standing committees, and to work more actively with standing committees to resolve differences between faculty and administrators. These suggestions are developed more fully in the section, "The Academic Council and Standing Committees," which includes the subcommittee’s specific recommendations (#4, 5, and 6) in this regard.

The subcommittee further recommends three changes in the structure of the Academic Council, all of which are encompassed in Recommendation #7. First, in place of the existing two-year terms, the subcommittee proposes that members serve on Academic Council for three years. In addition, the subcommittee proposes that members of the academic support faculty be represented on the Academic Council. Finally, the subcommittee recommends that both the President and Academic Vice President regularly attend Academic Council meetings as non-voting members, but that the Council avail itself more frequently of the right to meet without administrators.

Recommendation 8, the subcommittee’s final recommendation regarding the Academic Council, suggests that the Chair of the Academic Council receive one course release per semester.


Faculty Meeting (

In order to increase faculty participation in monthly faculty meetings, the subcommittee recommends combining faculty-related business items into a single agenda item, which will be led by the Chair of the Academic Council. In addition, the subcommittee recommends adding a place on the agenda for faculty concerns or questions. These are summarized in Recommendation #9.

Curriculum Committee and Curricular Planning ( urplan)

The subcommittee addressed a number of concerns about the current Curriculum Committee, including both the effectiveness of its operation and the relationship of its current membership structure to those of other standing committees. In general, the subcommittee advocated a principle that standing committees should be elected by the faculty at large, have chairs elected by the committee, and be coordinated at some level by the Academic Council. Proposed changes to the Curriculum Committee are consistent with this viewpoint.

These changes were organized by two additional principles. First, although the subcommittee recognized that curriculum itself is the responsibility of all members of the faculty - administrative, academic support, and teaching - special responsibility for curriculum development is vested with the teaching faculty. To this end, the subcommittee attempted to define a curriculum development process that puts initial ownership of the curriculum in departments, divisions, and sponsoring programs. Secondly, while the subcommittee believes that the currently listed duties in the Faculty Handbook are complete and appropriate, there is also a feeling that current practice does not always conform to these duties. The goal of the proposed changes then is to enable the Curriculum Committee to provide a campus-wide oversight role with regard to these duties and to the curriculum as a whole.

Proposed changes include:

Recommendation #10 - The Curriculum Committee should be a smaller, elected body which elects its own chair. Additional minor changes in membership are also proposed.

Recommendation #11 - Patterns of attendance by non-committee members (including presenters of proposals) and possible types of action by the Committee with regard to proposals are identified.

Recommendations #12 and #13- Curriculum proposals normally are to be developed by departments, chairs, and division deans; however, procedures should be developed for inter-disciplinary proposals as well.

Recommendation #14 - Descriptions of duties of department chairs, deans, and the VPAA in other parts of the Faculty handbook should be altered to reflect the proposed new pattern.

Relationship of Faculty to the Board of Trustees ( bot)

In general, the Elon College Board of Trustees functions in a way that is consistent with the duties described in its own bylaws. Furthermore, actions of the Board have been central elements in the prosperity of the college over the last several years. Readers interested in learning about the current structure and duties of the Board should consult Appendix 2 of the original document. All this notwithstanding, the subcommittee feels that the Board would be strengthened by more regular and focused insights from faculty members and that the Board-Faculty relationship should be more sharply defined. To this end, the following recommendations were made:

Recommendation # 15. The Board should institute a practice of twice-yearly meeting between its own Educational Affairs Committee and the faculty coordinating committee, the Academic Council.

Recommendation #16. The Board should alter its own membership pattern by the inclusion of a) faculty members from other institutions and representatives from national educational associations and b) an ex officio membership on the Board for the Chair of the Academic Council.

Recommendation #17-21. The Board should alter its practices in other ways, including re-evaluations of its other committees, development of informal meetings with faculty, and consultation with Faculty in planning activities.


Relationship to the President (

The subcommittee applauded the efforts of the new President to meet and consult with members of the faculty. While no new formal structures for consultation were proposed, two recommendations were made:

Recommendation #22. The President, as ex officio member of the Academic Council, should meet with that group as frequently as possible.

Recommendation #23. The President should establish a pattern of regular private consultation with the Chair of the Academic Council.


Budget Committee ( budcom)

This year, the college’s Budget Committee was altered by the appointment of a teaching faculty member, Brad Hamm, to that body for a three-year term. For that reason, no additional changes are proposed at this time. Instead, the following is recommended:

Recommendation #24. The college should evaluate the effectiveness of the new membership pattern of the Budget Committee during the 2001-2002 academic year.


Research and Development Committee (

The subcommittee designated scholarly research as an area of special responsibility of teaching faculty. For that reason, the following changes in the committee were recommended:

Recommendation #25. Although the VPAA will have a vote, voting membership on the committee will otherwise be restricted to teaching faculty. Furthermore, the committee will make decisions within the scope of its duties rather than recommend these decisions to the VPAA.


Professional Status, Promotion, and Tenure Committee( psptcom)

Recent college-wide task forces have addressed issues related to types of faculty contracts and procedures for evaluation/promotion. The subcommittee did identify two areas of special concern:

  1. how evaluation procedures will be conducted now that the separate VPAA position was eliminated; and
  2. the growing workload for the committee.

However, it was decided that these issues should be investigated by the standing committee itself after decisions about academic reorganization have been made.

Committee on Athletics (

Although a standing committee of the faculty, this committee and its chair currently are appointed by the President. To bring this membership pattern into conformity with other standing committees, the following changes are recommended:

Recommendation #26. The Committee should be composed of faculty members elected by the faculty as a whole with the exception of the Athletics Representative, who will continue to be appointed by the President. The chair will be elected by the committee from these members.


Teacher Education Committee and Academic Appeals Committee (

Two other committees were seen as conspicuous departures from the pattern established for other standing committees. Both of these are composed entirely of appointed members with ex officio chairs. However, in these two cases, the committee felt that such patterns were appropriate. For that reason, the following change was recommended:

Recommendation #27. The Teacher Education and Academic Appeals Committees should be removed from the category of Standing Committees and established instead as Advisory Committees.


Concluding Remarks on Other Committees ( conclud)

Although the subcommittee was not asked to address the entire committee structure of the faculty, it did become apparent that other changes may be warranted. To that end, the following was recommended:

Recommendation #28. The Academic Council should establish principles for the classification of Standing and Advisory Committees and evaluate the appropriate status of current committees in these terms.


Status of Academic Support Faculty ( tus)

The division of faculty status into three categories raised questions about the professional expectations, scope of authority, and evaluation procedures pertinent to each type. In general, it was felt that these elements are not appropriately articulated for academic support faculty. For that reason, the following changes were recommended:

Recommendation #29 The Academic Council should consider nomination of academic support faculty to standing committee membership except in cases where that membership is expressly prohibited.

Recommendation #30. The college should re-evaluate the role of academic support faculty on advisory committees.

Recommendation 31. The college should establish an evaluation system for academic support faculty that recognizes the importance of professional development and institutional service. This system should be supported by appropriate resources and strategies for professional development.