Friday, December 21, 2012

Now Here's an Idea: "You can sit around and complain and withdraw from everything, or you can get angry and get active and get motivated...I got angry."

Interesting article in the Chronicle of Higher Education --what one university did to rectify egregious violations of shared governance on its campus. Perhaps another step is to revive a chapter of the AAUP (American Association of University Professors). CSU had one before it was unionized, but the two institutions are not mutually exclusive. Northeastern University recently started one.

And while I'm wondering about shared governance in universities, I am also wondering what the preliminary report of the HLC said? Will the faculty get a summary?  It was supposedly received this week or last.

Lastly, look for more changes in the new year. There is no word as to whom our new provost may be, but apparently Dr. Westbrooks will be gone...

December 17, 2012

A College Creates a Chair for Shared Governance
By Audrey Williams June

At one point in the 42-year history of Francis Marion University, the public liberal-arts college's shared-governance system was so dysfunctional it drew national attention.

But in recent years the South Carolina institution—whose tense faculty-administration relations had earned it a spot on the American Association of University Professors' sanction list—has shed its image as the poster child for shared governance gone bad. Faculty members, along with the current president and Board of Trustees, have worked to rebuild the university's governance in a way that gives faculty a meaningful voice. And a new endowed chair in shared governance is viewed by many on the campus and elsewhere as a symbol of just how far Francis Marion has come.

"We went through a very torturous period to get where we are today," said Luther F. Carter, president of Francis Marion, who made overhauling shared governance a priority when he arrived, in 1999. "This chair seems like a logical progression of all that we've done to recognize the contributions of faculty in shared governance."

The endowed chair, which officials expect to award at the beginning of the 2013-14 academic year, is reserved for the head of the Faculty Senate, formally known as the chair of the faculty. That person will hold the endowed chair until his or her chairmanship ends. The chair is named after a retired professor of history, E. Lorraine de Montluzin, who was a leader in the faculty's fight to restore shared governance at the institution.

"She worked so hard to save this university back in the 90s," Mr. Carter said.

Ms. de Montluzin, who began her academic career at Francis Marion in 1974, remembers those years well. They were marked by a climate of fear on campus, she said, particularly during the tenure of Mr. Carter's predecessor, Lee A. Vickers. After Mr. Vickers arrived, in 1994, the board shut down the institution's fledgling faculty senate, dissolved elected faculty committees, and set aside the faculty constitution, among other things. Professors protested along the way and ultimately pushed back with an overwhelming vote of no confidence in his leadership in 1996, but the Board of Trustees continued to strongly back the president.

Francis Marion U., whose administration building is shown here, once drew national attention for shared governance gone bad. Now faculty members feel they have a meaningful voice.

"You can sit around and complain and withdraw from everything, or you can get angry and get active and get motivated," Ms. de Montluzin said. "I got angry."

From Sanctioned to Model

The AAUP, after visiting the campus to investigate, voted in 1997 to sanction Francis Marion. The sanction list comprises institutions that the association has found to have violated widely accepted faculty-governance standards. A year later, a South Carolina legislative audit—conducted after Ms. de Montluzin and a small group of Francis Marion professors met secretly with lawmakers to urge them to do so—confirmed that shared governance at the university was broken. It also revealed that scholarship money had been misused, enrollment was dropping sharply, and that Mr. Vickers's house had been remodeled at a cost of more than $235,000 without competitive bidding.

In 1999, following the audit, Mr. Vickers left and took a job as president of Dickinson State University, from which he retired in 2008. Mr. Carter, who succeeded him, made it clear from the outset that he "wanted to get off that sanction list," said Ms. de Montluzin, who organized the AAUP chapter at Francis Marion and served as its first president. "When he came it was just like a big weight had been lifted off of us."

She is credited with working closely with Mr. Carter and the new board early on to restore shared governance at Francis Marion, including rewriting the faculty handbook.

"We got to see Lorraine in a different role as she led the faculty, not in resistance, but in how you rebuild shared governance," said Kenneth Kitts, a former associate provost and professor of political science at Francis Marion who is now provost at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. "She was a very engaged partner with the administration, once she had an administration she could work with."

Rebecca Flannagan, current chair of the faculty, said she could tell right away that Mr. Carter's presidency would be different. When he arrived at Francis Marion, Mr. Carter "spent a lot of time right away learning what the faculty's needs were," said Ms. Flannagan, a professor of English.

"We weren't really used to that," she said. "He always makes the faculty feel important and valued. He wants faculty input on anything that affects faculty."

In 2000, the AAUP removed the institution from its sanction list—making it the first institution to have been sanctioned and then redeemed by the association's governance committee. In 2002, Mr. Carter received a national award from the association in recognition of his efforts to restore the institution's governance system.
"With amazing rapidity, Francis Marion has gone from the AAUP sanctions list to a model of what shared governance ought to be," the AAUP said in a news release about the award.

As chair of the faculty, Ms. Flannagan works closely with Mr. Carter and the Board of Trustees, which is not always the case for faculty leaders at other institutions. Mr. Carter, she said, "makes it attractive to be involved in shared governance."

Ms. Flannagan, who is serving a one-year term as chair of the faculty, plans to run for re-election. If she wins, she would be the first occupant of the endowed chair in shared governance.

Ms. de Montluzin said she is "tremendously honored" by the endowed chair that is named after her.

"So many institutions struggle to find the right type of shared governance," Mr. Carter said. "Now that we have that, there's a certain zeal that we have about protecting it."

No comments:

Post a Comment