Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cary Nelson on Shared Governance

An interesting letter on shared governance from Cary Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors.

We Have a Problem

Of course colleges and universities have more than one problem. But at the core of the financial and decision-making disasters of the past year has been a failure to honor shared governance principles on campus after campus. Unfortunately, shared governance has functioned for decades at many schools without any ongoing effort either to define it or to educate the campus community about its importance. Poorly understood, this fundamental principle has all along been vulnerable to circumvention, neglect, or flat violation. In “The Three-Legged Stool: Academic Freedom, Shared Governance, and Tenure.” the opening chapter of my new book, No University Is an Island: Saving Academic Freedom, I have made an effort to define shared governance in the context of the current financial, legal, and cultural threats to its continued existence. I draw throughout on the work of AAUP colleagues who have thought long and hard about this issue. These include Greg Sholtz, head of our Department of Academic Freedom, Shared Governance, and Tenure, and Larry Gerber, a member of our executive committee. My publisher, New York University Press, has agreed to let me circulate a link to my shared governance chapter as a way of initiating a national conversation about this increasingly critical issue. In what is, overall, a very cordial review of my book, Stanley Fish argues that academic freedom and shared governance are independent variables. In line with AAUP principles, I argue exactly the opposite. Here is a link to a PDF of the chapter:

Cary Nelson
AAUP President

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