It is important to note that the most direct, efficient way for teaching and academic support faculty to participate in governance is by working through the existing standing committee structure. Indeed, these committees are strategically constituted to serve such a purpose, encompassing every aspect of the academic program. As a result, it is difficult to imagine any issue or initiative that would not intersect in some way with the stated mission of one of the existing standing committees. Ideally, then, both faculty and administrators should see these committees as the natural setting for working out the sharing of institutional responsibilities.
Thus, the standing committees play a critical role as the front line in the effort to promote shared governance. The Academic Council, in turn, becomes a crucial link in this process by virtue of its position as the "coordinating committee of the Faculty" (Article VI, Section 3(a) of the Faculty Bylaws). In fact, the most meaningful action the Academic Council can take in the effort to promote shared governance is to begin using more effectively the authority it already possesses as the coordinating committee of the faculty.
The first and most obvious way that the Academic Council can do so is to communicate closely with the existing standing committees. Faculty members on standing committees should see the Academic Council as their most important resource in the governance process, and it is essential that there is frequent and active communication between such committees and the Council. Standing committee members who have concerns about the degree of participation in decision-making on issues falling within their purview should report those concerns to the Academic Council.
In such cases, the Council can take action to encourage senior administrators to follow practices more in keeping with the principles of shared governance. Through its function as an advisory committee to the President (Section 3(d)), the monthly Academic Council meeting can become a forum for expressing its concern to senior administrators and negotiating an appropriate solution. If necessary, the Academic Council can use its authority to plan the agenda for monthly faculty meetings (Section 3(b)) to bring problems with shared governance to the attention of the entire faculty. Of course, in order for this system to work properly, the Academic Council must be prepared to respond promptly to standing committee members' concerns and to do so in ways that protect the faculty members involved.
In addition, the practice of asking the chairs of every standing committee to report to the Academic Council becomes an important resource in the governance process, for it provides a written record of the extent to which collaboration occurred. Standing committee chairs should take seriously their obligation to provide an accurate accounting of the activities of their committee. If the Academic Council suspects that a decision or initiative was undertaken by the administration in a way which seemed to violate the principle of shared governance, it needs only check with the written records of the standing committee (or committees) whose mission would include the issue in question. If administrators have indeed proceeded without including the standing committee in the process, these written reports will provide substantive evidence of that fact. It then becomes the responsibility of the Council to insist that the process become more collaborative or, if necessary, report to the faculty in a monthly faculty meeting or other forum that senior administrators have chosen not to follow the principles of shared governance.
These comments should not be taken to imply that the only method of promoting shared governance is for concerns and questions to flow from standing committees to the Academic Council, nor that the latter body is where problems are routinely resolved. Standing committees should be the initial point of contact between administrators and other members of the faculty. Normally, issues involving faculty governance should be dealt with at that level.
Furthermore, it should not be assumed that the Academic
Council’s sole responsibility as the coordinating committee of the faculty
is to monitor the behavior of senior administrators. Faculty members of
standing committees have important responsibilities in order for shared
governance to be achieved, and it may be necessary at times for the Council
to take steps to ensure that members of standing committees take their
responsibilities more seriously. Thus, in its role as coordinating committee
of the faculty, the Academic Council must be willing to respond to perceived
lapses on the part of members of the teaching and academic support faculty
as well as of the administrators. In this sense, then, faculty members
who have concerns about the conduct of their colleagues on standing committees
should report those concerns to the Academic Council, concerns to which
the Council should respond decisively.
Recommendation #4. In order to emphasize the Academic Council’s role as the coordinating committee of the faculty, the subcommittee proposes the following change to Article VI, Section 3(c) of the Faculty Bylaws.
(c) In its role as coordinating committee of the Faculty, the Academic Council shall communicate regularly with members of standing committees. Faculty representatives of standing committees who have concerns about issues of shared governance in areas relevant to their committee should report those concerns to the Academic Council. The Council shall consider these concerns and, where it deems appropriate, formally address them in regular Council meetings. On matters deemed to be of general concern, the Council may report directly to the Faculty, or request that Standing Committees do so. In addition, the Academic Council shall collect formal reports on a yearly basis from the chairs of all standing committees.
In short, faculty must change the way they approach
our responsibility to serve on standing committees and Academic Council.
Instead of seeing this service as an unpleasant but necessary prerequisite
for tenure, professionalization, or promotion, they must recognize it as
a crucial way of representing their colleagues in matters of institutional
governance. This is especially true of the Academic Council given its central
role in the preservation of shared governance. It is crucial, therefore,
that, as a rule, faculty members who feel circumstances will prevent them
from speaking or acting freely should refrain from service on the Academic
Council. Thus, the years preceding a faculty member’s tenure, professionalization,
or promotion decision may be precisely the wrong time to serve on Academic
Recommendation #5. In order to increase faculty members’ effectiveness in using standing committees to promote shared governance, the subcommittee recommends that the Academic Council take the following specific measures to enhance communication between the Council and standing committees.
Recommendation #6. In order for Academic Council to function effectively as the coordinating committee of the faculty, the standing committees must all follow a standard set of procedures in reporting to the Council. The subcommittee therefore recommends that Article VIII, Section 5, of the Faculty Bylaws be amended as follows.
Section 5. Operating Procedures.
Changes in the Membership of the Academic Council
For reasons that will be described in this section, we propose three specific changes in the membership of the Academic Council: (1) that members be elected to three-year terms instead of the current two-year terms; (2) that academic support faculty be explicitly included as members of Council; and (3) that both the President and the Academic Vice President attend Council meetings as nonvoting members. All three involve a single section (Article VI, Section 1) of the Faculty Bylaws.
The first suggestion stems from the complexity and importance of the Academic Council in the faculty governance system. To a greater extent than most other elected committees, effective service on the Academic Council requires an understanding of the institution that simply cannot be internalized in a short period of time. Extending the term by one additional year will lengthen the institutional memory of the Council and make it possible for members to function more effectively. Instituting three-year terms can be achieved by electing members of Academic Council in a three-year cycle instead of the current two-year cycle.
The second suggestion results from our subcommittee’s recognition that academic support faculty play a vital role in the academic mission of the College. Despite their importance and status as faculty, this constituency is not currently represented in the faculty governance system. In order to include them on Council, the subcommittee suggests that academic support faculty be treated as a sixth division. To keep Council membership at ten, we further suggest that the number of at-large representatives be reduced by one.
Finally the issue of whether both the President and the Academic Vice President should routinely attend Academic Council meetings is clearly a complicated one, and opinions will no doubt be divided over our third suggestion. Some argue persuasively that restricting access of senior administrators to the Academic Council is the wrong step to take. We want to encourage, not inhibit, interaction and cooperation between faculty and administrators; after all, shared governance means that such cooperation occur. Furthermore, in practical terms, it is a great advantage for the Academic Council to have the opportunity to discuss important issues directly with senior administrators. Even so, there is overwhelming agreement that the presence of senior administrators changes the dynamics of discussion in Academic Council in ways that are not always positive. At times, it would be useful for faculty members of Academic Council to have the kind of unfettered discussion that comes only when administrators are not present.
In light of this, it seems appropriate to continue the practice of having two senior administrators present, but to change what has become the unstated rule that this will be the case for every meeting except the specific conditions outlined in Article VI, Section 1 of the by-laws. There may well be times when, in the opinion of the Council a meeting without administrators is in order, and such cases the decision to do so should carry no negative connotations. This option is, after all, granted explicitly in the by-laws.
These suggestions are all incorporated into the following
Recommendation #7. In order to institute these three suggestions, the subcommittee proposes the following changes to Article VI, Section 1 of the Faculty Bylaws.
Section 1. Membership. The Academic Council shall consist of nine [ten] members elected for terms of two years and the President, without vote, or a non-voting member designated by him. The President, or his designee, will not meet with the Council when it is serving as a nominating committee or as a hearing committee, or when the Council so requests. In even numbered years one member shall be elected from each of the following divisions into which the departments of instruction are organized: (1) Fine Arts and Humanities; (2) Mathematics and Natural Sciences; (3) Social Sciences; (4) Physical Education, Health, and Teacher Education; and (5) Love School of Business. In addition, five at-large members shall be elected by the Faculty in odd numbered years.
Section 1. Membership. The Academic Council shall consist of ten members elected for terms of three years, the President, without vote, and/or the Academic Vice President, without a vote. On occasions when the Council so requests, the President and the Academic Vice President shall not meet with the Council. Such requests may be made as a matter of course, and need not signify any exigency. In addition, the President, and the Academic Vice President will not meet with the Council when it is serving as a nominating committee or as a hearing committee. Elections to the Academic Council occur on a three-year cycle. In the first year of the cycle one member shall be elected from each of the following divisions: (1) Fine Arts and Humanities; (2) Mathematics and Natural Sciences; and (3) Social Sciences. In the second year of the three-year cycle, one member shall be elected from each of the following divisions: (1) HPLHP/Education; (2) Love School of Business; and (3) a member of the academic support faculty. In the final year of the three-year cycle, four at-large members shall be elected by the Faculty.
First, some have pointed to the demographic discrepancy
caused by having only one divisional representative for the Arts and Humanities
Division, which is significantly larger than the other existing divisions.
Once the institution decides on an administrative structure, it will be
appropriate for the Academic Council to reexamine divisional representation.
At that point, it would make sense for the Council to ensure that all of
the divisions are roughly the same size. In addition, the process of phasing
in the three-year terms will mean electing some members to one-year terms
to keep the membership at ten until one full cycle is achieved. The subcommittee
feels these details are better left unresolved at this point, pending the
acceptance of our recommendations and the reorganization of the administrative
Course Release for the Chair of Academic Council
Recommendation #8. Given the importance of the Academic Council to shared governance, and in light of the additional responsibilities accruing to it under this report, the subcommittee recommends that the Chair of Academic Council receive one course release per semester during his or her term.
At the heart of the problem is the fact that monthly
faculty meetings as defined in the
Faculty Handbook (see Articles
VI and VII) of necessity operate under formalized rules designed for the
efficient conduct of official business. The Bylaws are explicit in requiring
that the President preside over faculty meetings. After considering several
possible ways of dealing with this central problem, the subcommittee decided
to increase the Academic Council Chair’s report as a way expanding the
teaching and academic support faculty’s role in the meeting. The most significant
way of doing this is to give the Chair of Academic Council control over
the "Reports of Standing Committees" agenda item in faculty meetings. Thus,
the Chair of the Academic Council can organize this portion of the faculty
meeting to discuss issues deemed important by the Academic Council. This
is consistent with our recommendations that the Council increase its role
as the coordinating committee of the faculty. In addition, the subcommittee
proposes that the faculty meeting agenda include an item which explicitly
invites faculty members to raise questions or concerns about any issue.
Recommendation #9. In order to increase faculty participation in the monthly faculty meetings while remaining consistent with the Bylaws requirement that these meetings be presided over by the President, the subcommittee recommends the following amendments to Article VII, Section 1 of the Faculty Bylaws.
Section 1. Regular Meetings. The regular faculty meeting shall be held on the first Friday of each month during the academic year. The presiding officer shall cause to be prepared and distributed to each member at least three days in advance of regular meetings a written notice and an agenda accompanied by minutes of the previous meeting. The agenda shall be prepared jointly by the presiding officer and the Chair of the Academic Council. The usual order of business for a regular meeting shall be as follows:
Three main concerns arose with regards to the
current structure of the Curriculum Committee—representativeness, size
and communications. The main thrust of the subcommittee’s recommendations
is to address these issues. The Curriculum Committee should be an elected
body, and avenues of communication across committees should be recognized
and enhanced. While the subcommittee believes the current listed duties
as found in the Faculty Bylaws to be complete and appropriate, there was
some concern as to a disparity between the meaning of these duties in spirit
and in the reality of practice. The subcommittee believes this disparity
can be reduced through the recommendations found here regarding the Curriculum
Committee and those found in several other areas.
Recommendation #10. The subcommittee recommends the following changes to Article VIII, Section 8(a) of the Faculty Bylaws (I-5).
Section 8. Curriculum Committee
Recommendation #11. The subcommittee further recommends that Section II-12 on Committees of the Faculty--Policies and Procedures (p. 4 of 18) of the Faculty Handbook be amended as follows:
Section 7. Curriculum Committee (II-12, p. 4 of 18)
Recommendation #12. In order to be consistent and complete, the subcommittee recommends the following curriculum development procedures.
Proposed Language (Section II-15 B, and a newly-created Section II-15 C):
B. Summary of procedures for curriculum development and curriculum proposals
C. New course proposals should include the following:
Recommendation #13. While most curriculum proposals will be developed within existing Departments or Divisions and therefore will as a matter of course follow this procedure for curriculum development and curriculum proposals, the reality is that some proposals will come from outside this structure. In those cases, the subcommittee strongly recommends that the Curriculum Committee and the appropriate department(s) and/or Divisions be involved as early as possible. This is consistent with the intent of Duty 4 of the Curriculum Committee (Section I-5), which provides for review and recommendations on major changes in the curriculum in early planning stages.
Recommendation #14. In order for the enumerated duties of the department Chairs, Divisional Deans and the Vice President for Academic Affairs to be brought into concert with the changes proposed above, the subcommittee recommends the following changes to Section V-3 of the Faculty Handbook.
Curricular Programming, Planning and Assessment
Proposed Language (V-3, Academic Vice President, Division Deans, and Department Chairs Responsibilities, p. 6 of 8):
Curriculum Programming, Planning and Assessment
Current Relationship of Faculty to the Board.
Currently, Faculty-Board communication occurs in a number of ways. These include: attendance of specified faculty members at the twice-yearly committee meetings of the Board, occasional presentations to the full Board by invited faculty, and occasional informal lunches or gatherings. In addition, two faculty members recently served on the trustee group that conducted a search for a new College President. Notably, no current or past faculty are members of the full Board itself.
The special committees of the Board (which designated
faculty attend) include:
These three faculty (and three students) attend the business session of the Board as do senior administrators. When the board goes into executive session, all faculty, staff, and students are excused.
Analysis of the Current System
To some extent, the membership and organization of the Board is consistent with the tasks assigned to that group by the College By-Laws. If the overall purpose of the Board is to guarantee financial stability, facilities growth, good public relations, and conformity with the broad mission of the college - then the assemblage of prominent alumni and business people makes sense. Furthermore, the absence of Elon Faculty and Staff from the Board insures that the Board will not be subject to special pleadings or conflicts of interests that such potential members might have.
However, it is striking that the Board has relatively
little systematic contact with the group charged with conceiving and enacting
educational programs, i.e., Faculty. Indeed, there is more formal contact
with students (i.e., the three students who attend Board committee meetings
and the two Youth Trustees) than with Faculty. Nor has a "faculty viewpoint"
been represented on the Board historically by faculty members from other
colleges and universities, who presumably would have no conflicts of interests
While recent attempts to increase Board-Faculty communication are to be
praised, current policies and practices are inadequate for the kind of
wide-ranging dialogue that would enrich the perspectives of both Trustees
For the above reasons, the subcommittee recommends the following:
Recommendation #15. That the Board of Trustees institute a practice of twice-yearly meetings between its Educational Affairs Committee and the Faculty’s coordinating committee, the Academic Council. These meetings would be held during the periods established for the meetings of the full Board, i.e., in October and March of each academic year. The purpose of these meetings would be to share perspectives and concerns about the academic directions of the college.This focused discussion would not replace the current pattern of attendance of that meeting. That is, the Vice-Chair of the Curriculum Committee (now Chair as proposed in this report) and SGA Vice-President would continue to present and discuss curricular changes and related matters. Instead, the proposed discussions between the Board and Academic Council would occur as a separate meeting or segment of that meeting
Recommendation #16. That the Board evaluate its current membership structure and/or pattern of appointments in a way that recognizes the importance of specifically academic and faculty perspectives. Such an analysis would include consideration of the following:
Recommendation #17. That the Board evaluate the membership and practices of its other various committees in order to find other appropriate ways to include Students, Faculty, and Staff.
Recommendation #18. That the Board continue to seek ways to build relationships with the Faculty as a whole. Such practices could include informal lunches between the groups, systems of electronic correspondence, inclusion of selected Faculty in Trustee planning activities and task forces, etc. The inclusion of faculty in the recent hiring of the College President represents a good model for this new pattern of collaboration.
Recommendation #19. That the Board extend its practice of receiving regular reports from pertinent faculty committees and task forces, including the Academic Council, on matters germane to its work.
Recommendation #20. That Board members be invited to attend the monthly meetings of the faculty or other college-wide discussions of special importance.
Recommendation #21. That faculty meetings include reports from Faculty who have participated in meetings of the Board.
Recommendation #22. That the President, as ex officio member of the Academic Council, participate in the regularly scheduled meetings of that body as frequently as possible.
In other words, while the delegation of this responsibility is sometimes necessary, this practice does not substitute adequately for the presence of the President himself. It is important that Council members and the President develop a sound working relationship, a project dependent upon regular rather than sporadic attendance.
Recommendation #23. That the President establish a pattern of regular private consultation with the Chair of the Academic CouncilMany policies are developed initially through informal conversation. It is important that the President and the Chair of the Council have conversations about the broad directions of the college and that they establish a relationship of trust and mutual respect.
Because this change was just implemented this year, the subcommittee feels that it would be inadvisable to recommend further changes at this point. However, it does seem prudent to evaluate the new arrangement at some point. To this end, the following recommendation is made:
Recommendation #24. The Academic Council requests that the college evaluate the effectiveness of the new pattern of membership of the Budget Committee during the 2001-2002 academic year.The above year represents the third and final year of Professor Hamm’s tenure on that committee. At that point, the relative strengths and weaknesses of the current system can be evaluated more effectively.
At present the Research and Development Committee only makes recommendations to the AVP concerning faculty professional development and research activities. It is recommended that this committee serve as a decision-making body (requiring a change in the bylaws, sections b5 and b6). In light of this, it is also recommended that the Vice President for Academic Affairs or designee be a voting member of the committee rather than an ex officio member (requiring a change in the bylaws, section a2). The change from Grants Coordinator to Director of Sponsored Programs (section a3) reflects the official title of the individual in this position. Changes are noted above.
Although many past and present members of the Research and Development Committee have expressed concern over the system of reviewing sabbaticals and the lack of clarity in the professional sabbatical review process, restructuring of this process is beyond the charge of the Subcommittee on Shared Governance. It is suggested that the R & D Committee examine this process and make recommendations.
Recommendation #25. The subcommittee recommends the following changes to Article VIII, Section 15 of the Faculty Bylaws.
Two significant structural issues need to be addressed, but recommendations
cannot be made until the larger administrative structure is established
in terms of the redefinition or elimination of the office of Academic Vice
President, and the subsequent possible new roles of deans. The first of
these resulting issues will deal with how the deans or other new voices
in the evaluation process are weighted in deciding promotion, professional
status or tenure, and what the interrelated structure between the committee
and various administrative voices should be. The second area of possible
future recommendations may result from an increased annual load of cases
to be reviewed by the committee, as candidates for professional status
join the process. Perhaps this committee will not be able to handle this
increased load, and will need to delegate some of the responsibility to
another group or address it in a separate time frame.
As currently defined in the Faculty Bylaws, the Committee on Athletics is composed entirely of appointed members. Specifically, these members are six faculty appointed by the President, the Athletic Director (without vote), and two students who are not members of an intercollegiate athletic squad. Included among the faculty members is a committee chair appointed by the President, who serves as a Faculty Athletics Representative for the college. As noted above, this structure contrasts with the pattern established in other standing committees.
The current composition of the committee is described in the Faculty
Bylaws as follows (I-5, Section 14)
Recommendation #26 That the Committee on Athletics be revised to read as follows.
Teacher Education Committee and Academic Appeals Committee.
Two other committees were seen as conspicuous departures from the prevailing pattern for standing committees. Both of the above committees are composed solely of appointed members and have ex officio administrative faculty as chairs. The composition for each committee is described below (Faculty Bylaws, Section I-5):
Section 17. Academic Appeals Committee.
Recommendation #27. That the Teacher Education Committee and the Academic Appeals Committee be removed from the category of Standing Committees and established instead as Advisory Committees.
Concluding Remarks on Other Committees.
Although it was not charged to review all standing and advisory committees, the subcommittee became aware of various discrepancies and errors (e.g., the continued reference to the Vice President for Academic Affairs) in the descriptions of committee membership and duties. The Council may wish to correct these irregularities and inconsistencies in subsequent reviews of this material. Furthermore, it was noticed that certain committees, such as Honors Advisory Committee, International Programs Committee, and Interdisciplinary Writing Committee, may have more appropriate status as Standing Committees.
In this regard, the following recommendation is made:
Recommendation #28 That the Academic Council establish principles for the classification of Standing and Advisory Committees and evaluate the appropriate status of each committee in these terms.
Status of Academic Support Faculty.
Status of Academic Support Faculty. As defined previously (page 8), 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." In addition to their status as voting members of the faculty, academic support professionals fulfill roles as "staff" in such areas of the college as library, academic computing, advising and career services, student affairs, and athletics.
Historically, the faculty status of this group has not been fully developed. As noted above (p. 7), the criteria for appointment to faculty rank and the possibilities for promotion within rank have not been clearly defined. Furthermore, although academic support faculty are entitled through the Faculty bylaws to vote for candidates to the standing committees, they have not been nominated (with the rarest of exceptions) to serve as members of those committees. In certain cases, of course, committee membership is restricted by definition to teaching faculty and ex officio administrators. However, for the most part, this practice results from some unexamined assumptions about appropriate membership for these bodies. Finally, academic support faculty have not met regularly as a group to discuss common interests and perspectives.
Such issues were addressed at an October 1999 meeting of the Academic Support Services Committee. That committee supported the proposed delineation of faculty into three categories. It also emphasized the importance of clarifying the eligibility of academic support faculty for service on both standing and advisory committees. It was acknowledged that membership on certain committees (e.g., on the Faculty Research and Development Committee and on the Promotion, Tenure, and Professional Status Committee) is not appropriate at this time; however, membership on other committees, including the Academic Council, was thought to be appropriate.
Some of these concerns have been addressed by two previous recommendations in this document. Recommendation #3 proposes that the college develop criteria and procedures for appointment and promotion in faculty rank for administrative and academic support professionals. Recommendation #6 proposes that the Academic Council include an academic support faculty member drawn from and elected by that group. However, several additional issues have not been addressed. For this reason, the subcommittee recommends the following:
Recommendation #29. That the Academic Council consider nomination of academic support faculty to standing committees of the faculty, except in instances where that membership is specifically prohibited.To accomplish such an objective, the Academic Council would extend its practice of soliciting committee preferences from teaching faculty to include preferences from academic support faculty as well.
Recommendation #30. That the college re-evaluate the role of academic support faculty on advisory committees.There are numerous committees across the college with appointive membership, including those listed in the Faculty Handbook as Advisory Committees. It is the subcommittee's understanding that the special perspectives of academic support faculty would be useful on several of these committees. Extending membership in this way would broaden the conversations of these groups and potentially diminish the heavy committee obligations of teaching faculty.
Recommendation #31. That the college establish an evaluation system for academic support faculty that recognizes the importance of professional development and broader service to the college. This evaluation system should be supported by an appropriate professional development system that assists academic support faculty in meeting these expectations.Current evaluation procedures for academic support faculty (and for administrative faculty as well) have focused on their management abilities. While this remains an important focus, evaluation procedures should also recognize the wider contributions of support faculty to the college as well as their commitment to external professional communities. Like other faculty members, this group should be asked to develop plans for their own professional growth. A narrative statement (similar to the Unit I completed by teaching faculty) may be appropriate. However, any altered expectations for professional development or service should be accompanied by appropriate financial resources or other institutional support for career growth.
Return to Report to the Academic Council Subcommittee on the Role of Faculty in Shared Governance.