It’s a mixed picture when it comes to shared governance faculty roles in decision making areas at four-year institutions of higher education. Today we released a second report on data collected from the 2021 AAUP Shared Governance Survey, the first national survey on shared governance since 2001. Key findings include:
- In several areas in which higher education faculty had made progress in decision making authority between 1971 and 2001, the trend has reversed and returned to the status of 1971 or worse—most notably in institution-level decision making, such as the allocation of faculty positions and in budgetary matters. By contrast, several areas of decision making that are local in scope, such as programmatic curricular decision making or the selection of department chairs, have seen an increase in faculty authority.
- Despite persistent opinions that faculty unionization somehow weakens shared governance, this survey reveals that in 22 of 29 areas, there is no statistically significant difference in faculty authority between unionized and non-unionized institutions. In six areas, faculty authority was higher at unionized institutions.
- Overall, results of this survey present a mixed picture of the current state of shared governance. At most institutions, faculty authority is consistent with AAUP-recommended governance standards in decision making about programmatic, departmental, and institutional curricula; teaching assignments; and faculty searches, evaluations, and tenure and promotion standards. However, in several decision making areas, including budgets, buildings, and allocations of faculty positions, the faculty has little or no meaningful opportunity to participate at a large percentage of institutions.
The survey was conducted at 585 randomly-sampled four-year institutions. We asked senate chairs and other faculty governance leaders to assess 29 areas of decision making on a scale that ranges from administrative dominance to faculty dominance. The response rate was 68 percent.
Hans-Joerg Tiede, Director of Research, AAUP