The following report was presented the the University Senate on February 14, 1972.




As the first order of business, the Committee arrived at the following ground rules.
1) No new data were to be gathered, but as much extant information as possible on the subject was to be reported.

2) We were restricted to two specific levels of decision making (department and college) and to a specific group (faculty) so no lengthy commentary was to be formulated on other topics.

3) We recognized at the outset that two rather different concepts were involved in such a study; a) real role, and b) perceived role in decision making. Moreover, it was understood that both were to be judged against the faculty's desired role, which was assumed to differ widely from department to department and college to college.
Over and above the numerous personal interviews with individual faculty leading to revealing but subjective disclosures about governance, four documents were searched by the Committee.
1) All departmental and college self-study reports were read by appropriate Committee representatives.

2) The questionnaire submitted to all faculty prior to the self-study was analysed for pertinent data, in toto and by college.

3) Pertinent portions were excerpted from "A study of administrative, faculty and student perceptions of the campus environment at the University of Tennessee" (dissertation by John T. Hendricks, 1970, College of Education).

4) Similar data were gathered from "An analysis of the perceived and expected roles of -the department head at the University of Tennessee" (dissertation by James C. Parker, 1971, College of Education).

Desired and Perceived Roles

At once it is evident that the formal administrative structure of the campus affects to some extent the role of faculty in decision making. Constant reminders that ultimate authority rests in the Board of Trustees, and repeated statements by the President to the effect that, while faculty and student input was to be desired, many final decisions were to be made by administrators alone, tend to dampen whatever enthusiasm faculty might have toward participation in decision making, even at significantly lower administrative levels. At the same time, the department head is placed in a sometimes unenviable position by occupying the lowest administrative office (in contradistinction to highest faculty office), while attempting, by philosophy and most recent past experience, to defend, befriend and support his faculty "colleagues". Further confusing this issue is the part-time nature of the position, for many department heads do not claim fulltime administration time allotment on their faculty service reports (which become an internal inconsistency, for department heads are not faculty but administrators).

At the campus level, recent attempts by Chancellor Dykes to include all segments of the university community in decision making, at whatever stage it may be possible, has raised faculty morale to some extent (among faculty who are concerned about such things), resurrecting some willingness to participate after a period of perceived rebuff. Perhaps just as important have been recent moves by the Senate and campus administrators to formalize channels by which such inclusion of faculty representatives can be enhanced, specifically the formation (and resultant use of) the Senate Advisory Council to the Chairman (the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs). Item 82 of the self-study questionnaire ("The Senate has ample authority to be effective") revealed uniform skepticism, ranging from only 45% agreement in the Education College down to unanimous disagreement in the College of Law.

Moreover, response to item 81 ("The UT Senate adequately represents the faculty") was affirmative in the College of Agriculture, Education, and Liberal Arts-Humanities, but negative in Business, Engineering, Law, Liberal Arts-Natural Sciences and Social Sciences, while Home Economics was exactly divided and polarized.

Some perspective may be gained on the variations in attitude within the campus faculty regarding their satisfaction with the general tenor of the institution. Item 39 of the self-study questionnaire ("The intellectual atmosphere at the University of Tennessee is excellent".) found the faculties of Agriculture, Business, Engineering, Liberal Arts-Natural Sciences, and Home Economics all disagreeing in numbers better than 2 to 1, while Education and Liberal Arts-,Social Sciences were clearly satisfied and Liberal Arts-Humanities almost exactly divided. At the same time, responses to item 6 ("The state of academic freedom in the University at the present time is satisfactory") were almost uniformly affirmative ranging from 45% (Liberal Arts-Social Sciences) to 75% agreement (Engineering).

Some revealing data from Parker's dissertation concern faculty expectation vs. perception of the department head,
a) 52% of the faculty agreed that the department head (DH) should handle the department business mainly through a committee structure (39% felt this was actually done).

b) 50% agreed that the DH should set department policy and goals based on the individually determined faculty member's goals and directions (29% felt this was actually done).

c) 62% agreed that the DH should validate his management objectives and job description with the faculty before submitting them to the Dean (34% felt this was actually done).

d) 69% agreed that the DH should involve staff in determining budgetary mandates (32% felt this was actually done).

e) 67% agreed that the DH should relate to staff and students the problems and concerns of upper level administration (43% felt this was actually done; 80% of top administrators and 86% of DH's thought this should be done; 77% of DHs thought it actually was done).

f) 81% agreed that the DH should consult with individuals being considered in regard to criteria and procedures for promotion and salary adjustments (38% felt this was actually done).

g) 82% agreed that the DH should provide for staff involvement in determining teaching assignments (50% felt this was actually done).

h) 86% agreed that the DH should seek a consensus among faculty in extending an offer to a potential staff member (62% felt this was actually done).
From the questionnaire (item B31: "Department chairmen should be elected by faculty vote."). Reactions ran from negative (Agriculture, Education) to positive (all of Liberal Arts), with some colleges clearly undecided and polarized (Business, Engineering, Home Economics).

Item 80 ("The present method of department heads determining merit salary increases is preferable to having such decisions made by a committee of the faculty in the department") showed almost uniform strong agreement (except in Law, with polarized respondents), indicating not only a lack of faculty role in personnel fiscal affairs, but no desire to participate in this decision-making process.

Real Role

Departmental policies vary considerably as to the extent of faculty input. Rationales for little faculty involvement in departmental governance range from benevolent paternalism (protect the faculty from administrative matters to release them for more meaningful faculty tasks) to authoritarian-despotism (the faculty ought not meddle in areas where administrative decisions must be binding). Most departments lie between the extremes. Departmental self-studies most often reveal adequate committee structure, especially in curricular matters and in hiring procedures. Very little data exist on the real efficiency of these committees, or the faith placed in these structures by either faculty or administration. One fact indicates the uncertainty of the Committee to place implicit trust in these departmental self-study statements: in the majority of instances (where stated in the self- study) the department head acted as chairman of the self-study committee, in many cases wrote the eventual report, and in most cases was in a position to change in eventual text more or less at will. In one situation, a department head has stated that significant data were changed at the college level before submittal to the campus committee. In short, no hard data exist on the real role of faculty in departmental or college decision making.

Very few faculty seem to want departments administered as tightly as an industry model, but a majority apparently feel that the department head ought to have a stronger role than merely that of a chairman. From the Parker study, (item 8) only 5% of the faculty agreed that the department head should act as "top sergeant" for the college (only 15% felt this was actually the case). To item 11 (the department head should administer the department after an industry model"), only 7% agreed, and only 5% felt this actually was the case. Of faculty respondents to item 16 ("The department head should have autonomy and responsibility only commensurate with a "chairman" role), 46% agreed, and 42% felt this actually was the case: 42% of responding department heads thought both that this should be true, and that it actually was true.

In most colleges, committees function only as efficiently and dynamically as faculty desire. Committee structure exists in all but fiscal affairs, although it appears that it is in fiscal affairs that real college priorities often are established.- In spite of apparently adequate faculty input through committees, there seems to be a lingering suspicion by faculty of college administrators. No easy solution can be seen to this dilemma, but no hard data are available on its extent either.


Based on the data now available to the Committee, the following conclusions seem warranted:
1) The desire to participate in all levels of decision making varies widely with individuals, departments and colleges, making any judgments on, or moves to improve faculty input doomed to partial failure. Likewise, an assessment of real faculty role is difficult to formulate.

2) There is strong evidence that administrators view their jobs and level of performance quite differently in quality and quantity from those whose affairs they administer. This is true of ad-ministration from the department to the system level (it is also, although to a lesser degree, true of-faculty in relation to students). Although administration at all levels sees itself significantly as servants of their constituency, their constituents disagree rather strongly with that image.

3) Very few data exist on faculty role in college decision making, but two factors seem obvious; a) with few exceptions, on paper, the possibilities for faculty input seem adequate, end b) personal interviews seem to indicate a lack of knowledge but distinct suspicion of college-level administrators.

4) Because of the rather specific limitation of the Committee's charge, further investigations of the matter herein discussed belongs in colleges and departments in addition to the Senate.


With an eye to the obvious haste in assembling and analysing available data and the paucity of kinds of data, the Committee makes the following recommendations:
1) That the Senate at this time reconsider its interest in this area. If the Senate finds renewed or sustained action desirable, it should establish a new committee in whose charge should be included the gathering of new data, an enlargement of the administrative scope, and a comparison of data from other similar campuses. Such an appointment might best follow consideration of new Senate by-laws, with their possible implication for Senate jurisdiction and. scope.

2) That the campus administration, having taken its own positive steps toward involving faculty (and students) in decision making, encourage the faculties and Deans of the various colleges to study their decision-making processes, with hopes for greater democratization, especially in establishing program priorities which under lie budget decisions.

3) That some minimum standardization of department heads' job description be established. so that all parties may be more aware of the logical expectations from that office. Department heads should. be strongly encouraged to involve their constituents in formulating and implementing objectives and priorities.

Ron Petersen (Liberal Arts) Co-Chairman
Jack Larsen (Business) Co-Chairman
Becky Baldwin (Student Representative)
David Brown (Agriculture)
Arthur Gravette (Home Economics)
Larry Hughes (Education)
John Lain (Communications)
Bruce Tschantz (Engineering)

Senate Directory
Governing Documents
   Senate Bylaws
   Faculty Handbook
   Tenure Policy



Senate Home

To offer suggestions or comments about this web site, please click here.