Report of the Committee on Faculty Participation in University Governance to the University of Tennessee Chapter of the American Association of University Professors

May 1969

Summary and Recommendations

I. The Committee was appointed during January and February, 1969, by President Fuller to look into (A) means by which the University Administration can consult the faculty in all matters of concern to it, (B) means by which the faculty can participate in the selection of administrative officials at all levels from department heads to presidents. The Committee deemed it advisable to enlarge the scope of its inquiry to include (C) means by which the faculty can participate in the decision-making process at all levels within the University.

II. The Committee recommends the following:
  1. The UT-AAUP should urge the Faculty Senate to amend its charter to increase the scope of its interests and to establish counterpart committees to the committees of the Board of Trustees. These committees should plan to meet regularly with or otherwise systematically exchange viewpoints with the committees of the Board and also with committees of the SGA when and where appropriate.

  2. The UT-AAUP urges the Senate to establish a standing committee or committees to assist and advise the Administration in the selection of persons to fill administrative positions. The Committee or committees should consist of appropriate advisors on candidates, from department heads on up to the System's President. Such committee or committees should be instructed to ask the faculty throughout the University for suggestions and comments relevant to appointments, as soon as the prospect of having to fill a post appears.

  3. The UT-AAUP recommends to the Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs, to the Deans, and to the faculties, that at the College level the faculty should meet more fully than it has in the past its responsibilities in the curricular, advisory, and other policies of the College.

  4. The UT-AAUP recommends to the Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs, to each Dean, to each department head, and to each faculty member, a significant measure of faculty participation in departmental decisions involving curricula determination, selection of personnel, and other policy matters.

This committee was appointed at a time when faculty confidence in the administration of the University was at a low ebb. This loss of confidence develops from a long history, but has accelerated recently with the reorganization of the University without effective consultation of the faculty, with the establishment of a new College of Communication without effective consultation of the faculty, with administrative and faculty appointments and recommendations for tenure made without consultation of the faculty, and with vagueness on the part of the faculty concerning the allocation of responsibility for administrative acts and policies.

The Committee finds that a considerable share of the responsibility for the deterioration in faculty-administration relations must be borne by the faculty itself. Having effectively resigned from active participation in University affairs and having failed to shoulder its responsibilities to the University and the community the faculty now finds itself substantially isolated from the decision-making process at the Department, College, Campus, and Systems levels.

The Committee and its members have met with interested groups and individuals, both within the Administration and without. We explored as carefully as time would permit attitudes of all major groups toward the role of the faculty at the University of Tennessee.

The purpose of all these conversations was two-fold. First, of course, we wished to obtain information about current governmental practices and about attitudes held by various individuals in important positions. Second, we wished to try to improve communication between faculty members and others involved in university affairs. These two ends were worthy in themselves. We further viewed our task as a test of obstacles and opportunities facing the faculty in the future.

The Committee very early realized that the subject of university governance in the United States--not to mention the world--is complex and extensive. We consequently had to overcome deficiencies in our knowledge by selected reading from current articles and books by students and practitioners of university government.

In all modern universities there is a need for a sense of direction, or common purpose. The three great tasks of the university, which President Perkins of Cornell conceives as (1) the acquisition of knowledge, (2) the transmission of knowledge, and (3) the application of knowledge to the world supporting the university, are inherently difficult to balance, or to coordinate. More than that, the multiplication of schools and departments, stimulated in part by an extremely productive specialization of knowledge and in part by less healthy tendencies to institutionalize otherwise transient prerogatives, has made the university approximately as hard to control as the mythical Hydra.

Problems of government are implicated at all levels--from the department, or research bureau, to the school or institute, to the campus, to the university system itself, and even beyond, to the tax-appropriating legislatures, the foundations, and the education commissions.

Faculties have contributed to the overspecialization of knowledge, to the correspondingly splintered departmentalization of the university and to much of what students now question as to its relevance to their educational goals. The faculty must participate in governing itself as well as in governing the university of which it is a part, and it must accept the responsibilities participation implies.

Taking the specific evidence derived from our conversations and from observations guided by points arising in these conversations, we have arrived at some useful conclusions:
  1. One conclusion is that the Board of Trustees of the University of Tennessee is a stable board, because of the term of appointment (nine years), and that it is composed of men of uncommon ability and intelligence in whom we may place our confidence. It includes among its members men of liberality of mind and experience.

  2. A second conclusion is that the academic leadership of the University is in good hands. The Vice-President for Academic Affairs and the Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs both encourage faculty participation in the selection of department and deans, in the modification of college and department curricula and in policy-making decisions on academic issues generally.

  3. The chief executive positions in the University System and in Knoxville arc presently occupied by men who love the University of Tennessee and who genuinely wish to understand the faculty and to work with it.

  4. The ironical conclusion which we must now state is that the faculty of the University of Tennessee has been exceedingly remiss in the past in not identifying and then insisting upon a larger role in the formulation of academic policies. This is most evident at the level of the department, but also at the college, and university levels. Even those few individuals to whom this stricture does not [ap]ply have not, in our opinion, versed themselves sufficiently in the nature and diversity of the tasks facing administrators of modern universities. Lacking awareness of the responsibilities of the administration, they have not been as effective as they should have been. The greatest obstacles to effective faculty participation in UT governance are lack of interest, apathy, and timidity: a further is a reluctance to accept responsibility.

  5. The Committee recognizes the difficulties encountered by administrative officers in executing their responsibilities in face of the ferment and new initiative arising in academic communities today. We express our sympathy and our intent to provide suitable support to them in dealing with these problems. We find it unsurprising that it is becoming increasingly difficult for universities to find able and qualified men and women to accept administrative posts that are now most often thankless. Administrative officers can no more be considered the servants of Board, faculty or students, than the faculty can be considered the hirelings of the administration.

  6. Students at UT seem to have been responsibly led during the past two years. We have been impressed with the sincerity of student leaders' desires for improved teaching and improved curricula, and even more, for improved communication between faculty and students. We think it likely that individual faculty members will soon feel many of the pressures and defensive reactions to which administrators have initially been vulnerable.

  7. As to the community in which UT lives, it can be educated most quickly, probably, by continued order on the campus, by peaceful and responsible acceptance of increased freedoms which are on the way.
Since it takes men--all of whom have imperfections--to make institutions work, we recommend to all members of the university community the cultivation of a spirit of cooperation and a sense of common purpose.

Respectfully submitted,
R. B. Davis
A. J. Sharp
G. A. Spiva
W. K. Stair
W. S. Verplanck
T. McN. Simpson, Chairman

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