The State of Faculty Involvement in Governance in the United States

Michael T. Miller


The purpose of the study was to profile the state of faculty governance in US higher education. The survey was based the National Data Base on Faculty Involvement in Governance. Using a similar protocol, the study used survey research with a sample of research university faculty senate presidents. Results include a growing use of non-tenure track faculty and faculty with little senate experience being elected to lead senates. The presidents indicated that the skills most necessary to them are problem analysis, judgement, sensitivity, and oral/written communication skills. They perceived their primary task as developing a sense of direction for the senate, and the most critical issue they face is one of determining institutional priorities. The study was limited to only one type of institution (research-centered) in one country (the United States), and with a 38% response rate to the survey. A growing number of non-tenure track faculty have been identified as leading senates and that there is a group of ‘fast-track’ senators with limited experience being elected into leadership positions. This means that there may be significant changes in how shared governance is being socially constructed. The study re-establishes the annual survey of faculty senate leaders, and longitudinal data will be critical in determining the future of faculty senates. Findings have immediacy in helping senate presidents and administrators understand the changing role of senates, how they see themselves, and what they value.

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