The University Record, April 22, 1998

Faculty Perspectives: Principles of Faculty Governance

During the 199697 academic year, the Academic Affairs Advisory Committee (AAAC), at the request of and in consultation with former Provost Bernard Machen, developed the document "Principles of Faculty Involvement in Institutional and Academic Unit Governance at the University of Michigan." Unanimously endorsed by Senate Assembly on April 21, 1997, it was distributed in September 1997 by the office of the Senate Assembly, with the endorsement of Provost Nancy Cantor and President Lee Bollinger, to all faculty members on the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses. It is now time for faculty to ask how the "Principles" document has influenced activities of governance in their respective units, schools and colleges, as well as in campuswide governance.

Intended to codify for faculty their roles and responsibilities in University academic governance, the document is a set of guidelines based primarily on current regental Bylaws. It also draws upon recommendations for the governance of colleges and universities as set forth by the American Council on Education, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges and the American Association of University Professors. Such a gathering of long-established and widely-accepted guidelines for faculty governance offers a set of model procedures designed to strengthen faculty involvement in areas central to university life. These include such fundamental areas as curriculum, methods of instruction, faculty status (such as appointments and promotions), admission of students, budgetary decisions and the development of policies pertaining to them, and processes for faculty delegation of authority to executive committees.

Professor Jon Rush, chair of AAAC for 199697, described the document as a desired code of behavior. It provides a basis on which faculty can participate in academic governance, which, in turn, "promotes and encourages diversity of ideas, a sense of shared responsibility, collaboration, collegiality and institutional excellence."

The guidelines are divided into two parts, the first describing general principles of academic governance that apply to all schools and colleges at the University, and the second describing faculty responsibilities at the unit level. Taken collectively, the document offers specific means by which faculty can apply the instruction from the Regents calling for governing faculty to be in charge of the affairs of each school, college or degree-granting division of the University, except as delegated to an executive committee, executive board, or designated executive faculty (Bylaws, Section 5.02).

AAAC recognizes that the publication and distribution of the guidelines were only initial steps in promoting interest and participation among faculty in governance at the University. In order to continue with that goal, the Committee has established a Standing Task Group to address issues related to the implementation of the "Principles" document within each unit, school, and college. The Task Group will work closely with AAAC, Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs and the Provost in suggesting ways that participation in institutional and unit governance activities can be fostered among greater numbers of faculty, can become more meaningful and valuable both to individual faculty members and to groups of faculty, and can improve and strengthen the University in support of its basic missions by encouraging diversity of ideas, collaboration and collegiality.

It is the hope of AAAC that faculty members throughout the U-M system will take advantage of the opportunity to ensure that the "Principles of Faculty Involvement in Institutional and Academic Unit Governance" are disseminated, discussed and implemented in all departments and units on the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses. The AAAC welcomes comments and suggestions from faculty members about ways the Committee and the Task Group can assist in these endeavors. Please contact the Committee at its e-mail address: Academic.Affairs.Committee@umich.ed u. Additional copies of the "Principles" document are available from the SACUA office (764-0303) or mandevil@umich.edu).

Prepared by Kathryn Beam and Jackie Lawson on behalf of AAAC.