[The following statement was presented to the Board of Trustees, meeting in Knoxville on June 28, 2001, by Bob Glenn, President, Faculty Senate.]
Address to Board of Trustees
The following statement was written by a committee of UT faculty and students: "It is our view that there is dissatisfaction, significant and wide-spread dissatisfaction, and that much of this dissatisfaction comes from the failure of the Board of Trustees effectively to utilize the faculty and students in the selection process [for a university president].... It is the opinion of this committee that the Board has acted irresponsibly in its failure to accord faculty and students the same consideration given to faculty and students at other universities." This statement was written in 1970 about the process for selecting a new university president following the retirement of Dr. Andy Holt.
Thursday, June 28, 2001
President Fly, members of the Board of Trustees, and distinguished guests--as in October I wish to thank you for this opportunity to speak on behalf of the Faculty Senate of the Knoxville campus of the University of Tennessee.
Unlike October I don't come today with a wish list from the faculty. The Senate does continue to support a living wage for all workers on campus, a substantial addition to the base budget for our library, competitive salaries and a sabbatical program for faculty, reduced reliance on part-time teachers, and a strong commitment to tenure, academic freedom, and due process. But recent events make one issue paramount, the state of governance of our institution, and it is that that I want to address briefly.
What are the principles which should guide decision making in higher education? Where are they written?
The standard document is a policy statement adopted in 1966 by the Association of Governing Boards (this body is a member of the AGB), the American Council on Education, and the American Association of University Professors (many UT faculty are active members of AAUP). The 1966 statement sets out the particular responsibilities of the governing board, the administration, and the faculty, in areas such as budget, curriculum, and personnel. The fundamental principle is that of open, democratic collaboration. For instance, when administrators are hired without full and open participation of faculty, that process violates the principle of shared governance and invites troubled appointments.
The 1966 statement on governance says this of our current task:
Joint effort of a most critical kind must be taken when an institution chooses a new president. The selection of a chief administrative officer should follow upon cooperative search by the governing board and the faculty, taking into consideration the opinions of others who are appropriately interested. The president should be equally qualified to serve both as the executive officer of the governing board and as the chief academic officer of the institution and the faculty. The president's dual role requires an ability to interpret to board and faculty the educational views and concepts of institutional government of the other. The president should have the confidence of the board and the faculty. (AAUP Policy Documents & Reports, 1995 ed.: 181)
I regret to say that the University of Tennessee has a history of failing to follow principles of shared governance in hiring top administrators. It was a crisis in university governance in 1970, precipitated by the Board's policy in selecting a new president, that led to the creation of our Faculty Senate as a means of presenting a more forceful faculty voice in decision making. Frequently since 1970, faculty have been ignored or marginalized as participants in university decisions.
What is to be done?
To avoid problems such as those of 1970 and later, the Senate recommended three years ago, when this Board was searching for a person to replace President Johnson, a set of search procedures and selection criteria that would be consistent with the principles of shared governance. We recommended, for example, that faculty should be actively involved in the selection of search consultants and in the formulation of their role; should see all documents, including applications, as they are developed or received by the search committee; and should be actively involved in the successive stages of narrowing the pool of applicants.
The sensible way to implement those procedures is to have a substantial faculty presence on the search committee itself. To bar faculty from the search committee is literally to render faculty advice peripheral, which Board policy--as stated in the Faculty Handbook, p. 22--says should not happen. I have with me a copy for each of you of a resolution adopted yesterday by the department heads in the College of Arts and Sciences--our largest college, and the backbone of our educational system. The resolution calls on the Board to amend its bylaws to include substantial faculty representation on the search committee. I'll be happy to distribute the resolution when I finish, in just a few moments.
What else can be done?
Faculty should develop the criteria for the selection of a President. That's Board policy too--as stated in the Faculty Handbook, p. 14. In 1998, the Faculty Senate agreed that candidates for president should have such qualities as these:
Faculty members who serve on search and advisory committees should be chosen not by the Board or by administrators but by the faculty whom they represent. That's Board policy, as stated in the Faculty Handbook, p. 20.
- Commitment to academic freedom and tenure
- Commitment to intellectual diversity
- Experience in teaching and research
- Commitment to affirmative action.
- Commitment to shared governance
We continue to support the procedures and criteria for selection of a president that are set forth in the 1966 statement on government, in the Faculty Handbook, and in the Senate's 1998 resolution. Our support is based on the fact that such procedures represent Board policy and on the conviction that shared and democratic decision making works. The alternative may be a troubled institution, with intervention by political and legal figures.
I began by reading a 1970 statement from faculty at the University of Tennessee. Let me close with a very different statement, also written by faculty.
The Board of Trustees of Santa Clara University received in 1999 the Ralph S. Brown Award for Shared Governance from the American Association of University Professors. The award is named in memory of a Simeon E. Baldwin Professor of Law at Yale University, and is "given to an administrator, a trustee, or a board of trustees as a group to recognize an outstanding contribution to the practices of shared governance...." In nominating their governing board for the Brown Award, the faculty of Santa Clara University were able to write, "It is an example of a school where a long tradition of relatively benevolent authoritarianism was outgrown and collaboratively transformed. [Under the new system,] governance is a medium by which we constitute ourselves as an intellectual and moral community" (Academe May-June 2000: 14).
Ladies and gentlemen, the faculty of the University of Tennessee would welcome an opportunity to join with you in creating a new, exciting community on our campus. A good way to begin is to model that community by conducting a democratic, collaborative search for a university president.
Thank you again for this opportunity to speak, and good luck with your deliberations.
Presented to the Board of Trustees
The University of Tennessee
June 28, 2001
As Department Heads in the College of Arts and Sciences, the largest academic unit at the University of Tennessee, we call upon the Board of Trustees to amend its Bylaws to include a significant number of faculty as voting members on any search committee charged with screening candidates for appointment to the Presidency of the University regardless of the title--Interim, Acting, Term, or Regular--or the duration of the appointment.
Any new President for whatever term of office needs the support and counsel of the academic leadership at this institution. Conversely, faculty must have confidence in the University's administrators. Quality universities are characterized by such relationships. The University of Tennessee will be well-served in the search for a new President by putting to use the expertise, experience, and wisdom of faculty who have already invested their professional lives in enhancing the stature of this institution.
To offer suggestions or comments about this web site, please click here.