The following report was presented the the University Senate on February 14, 1972.
REPORT: SENATE COMMITTEE ON
THE ROLE OF FACULTY PARTICIPATION IN
DEPARTMENT AND COLLEGE GOVERNANCE.
1) No new data were to be gathered, but as much extant information as possible on the subject was to be reported.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.
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.
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 RolesAt 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).
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).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).
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).
Real RoleDepartmental 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.
ConclusionsBased 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.
RecommendationsWith 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.