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  • Shared governance is the only way to turn around our higher education system
  • Posted By:
  • Karen W.
  • Posted On:
  • 05-Dec-2014
  • American higher education is all set to witness major changes. It is extremely important at this stage for universities and colleges to use these changes and shape the future of our education rather than be shaped by the transformations passively.

    Senior leadership, moving forward, will be subject to new challenges by external forces and changes in the education system will totally reflect the stark reality with respect to non-functioning financial structure.

    It is imperative for administrators to start preparing themselves for these changes. Firstly, our universities are run mainly by the senior staff under the president, at least on the outside it appears so. While charting policies, it is important for senior leaders to put their heads together and develop policies that are conciliatory, thoughtful, flexible, entrepreneurial and consensus-oriented.

    Coming back to the team that administers most of our universities, we know that it consists of the senior administration, faculty and trustees. Our of this, we can totally rule out trustees as they are never fully involved in the working of the college and are seldom present on campus except for an occasional appearance at the board meetings.

    This situation must change. Trustees must take more interest in their jobs and learn all they need to know in-depth. This is the only way they can understand and learn how to manage the complex governance, policies and assessment practices. Understanding this will also ensure they will not saunter in with a case study and try to impose business practices that can generate more money.

    Every university and college in our country must remember that they are basically under shared governance and operate as a non-profit organization. Of course, at various levels, our higher education institutions are forced to relate as a business. When it comes to the quality of education and faculty, there must however be no compromise.

    Board members must be prepared well by the college presidents. When it comes to conveying or using data, caution must be exercised by the senior staff. It is important for educational institutions to make sure numbers speak for themselves rather than using data to present the president’s case.

    Putting in place a powerful, strategic plan is a must as this is the first step towards develop strong policies based on good data. Faculty representation at board meetings is another issue we will discuss here. In many colleges and universities, faculties are present at the meetings however the number and frequency may vary.

    One of the major aspects of shared governance, faculty opinions must play a key role in policy shaping. This will make management of academic programs easier. Faculty participation will also ensure that education offered is alive, growing and vital.

    Similarly, presidents play a major role too. They must be humble enough to recognize that they do not know enough and even before they begin to interact with senior members and faculty, must acknowledge their limitations. Their role is to bring common sense, skills and a set of experiences to the job.

    The immense challenge faced by American higher education can be mitigated through shared governance. All involved parties must act with integrity, truthfulness, honesty, loyalty and sincerity to achieve any significant results.


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