AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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AFT Resolutions

SHARED GOVERNANCE IN COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES

WHEREAS, shared governance is a set of practices under which college faculty and staff participate in making significant decisions concerning the operation of their institution; and

 

WHEREAS, shared governance has played a central role in the success of American higher education, providing a mechanism for academic employees with training and frontline experience in curriculum, teaching and research, as well as all aspects of student services and support, to be primary decision makers in their areas of expertise; and

 

WHEREAS, increasing numbers of public officials, institutional board members and administrators have come to positions of authority who believe that higher education is an industry like any other and should be run on a "business model" of central command and control, which has resulted in attacks on the shared governance rights of faculty and staff at institutions around the country; and

 

WHEREAS, implementation of the business ideology in higher education has resulted in many actions that threaten the educational and research mission of colleges and universities, such as:

  • redirecting the teaching of courses from full-time-tenured faculty to part-time, adjunct and other nontenure-track faculty, as well as graduate teaching and research assistants, who are often exploited and denied basic supports;
  • shortchanging students by reducing the offerings for a broad-based liberal arts curriculum;
  • outsourcing jobs essential to instruction and course design; 
  • buying and selling "courseware" for commercial purposes through the appropriation of the innovative intellectual property of faculty and staff; and
  • restricting academic freedom:

 

RESOLVED, shared governance is vital to maintain the academic integrity of our colleges and universities, to prevent the pressures of commercialization from distorting the institution's educational mission or eroding standards and quality and to uphold the ideals of academic freedom and democratic practice; and

 

RESOLVED, it is a priority of our union to ensure that all college and university employees' full-time tenured, tenure track and nontenure-track faculty, temporary and part-time/adjunct faculty, graduate teaching and research assistants, professional staff with and without faculty rank, the classified and support staff that keep the educational enterprise going—are given a guaranteed voice in decision making, a role in shaping policy in their areas of expertise; and

 

RESOLVED, each level of the union should advocate the implementation of the

AFT Statement on Shared Governance in Colleges and Universities, which enunciates the following principles:

  •  Faculty and professional staff, particularly those directly involved in teaching and conducting research, should have the lead role in determining the content of the curriculum, degree and certificate requirements, standards of instruction, student achievement standards, grading and all matters relating to student progress in academic programs.  Their judgments should be subject to overrule only rarely, with compelling reasons provided in writing and with an opportunity for response;
  • Faculty and professional staff must be able to exercise independent academic judgment in the conduct of their teaching and research.  Management should not interfere except in proven cases of academic incompetence or wrongdoing.  Tenure must be preserved and the protections of free expression should be extended to all staff to ensure openness, objectivity and creativity;
  • Faculty should have primacy in decisions on academic personnel and status, including appointments, tenure and promotion, sabbaticals, and other incentives and measures of academic quality.  Management overrule of these decisions should be rare and for compelling reasons, given in writing, and subject to individual and collective response;
  • Participation in shared governance should be expanded, ensuring that all faculty and all staff, from full professors to adjunct lecturers, from librarians and counselors to departmental support staff, have suitable arrangements for their voices to be heard and given proper weight in decisions that affect the mission and operation of the institution.  The forms of shared governance and degrees of participation will vary according to the particular institutional arrangements currently in place, but each group whose work contributes to the academic enterprise should be involved in an appropriate matter. 
  • Unions, representative assemblies and faculty senates all should have significant roles in shared governance. 
  • Accrediting agencies should support fully the concept of shared governance in the standards they impose on participating institutions.

(2002)