Governance Conference

By Ezra Deutsch-Feldman

The AAUP’s annual governance conference was held November 11–13, 2011, in Washington, DC. The conference included training workshops for faculty leaders from around the country as well as presentations of papers and research. Workshops focused on ways to make faculty senates effective, the relationship between collective bargaining units and faculty governance bodies, the impact of the US Supreme Court’s Garcetti decision on governance, and how faculty governance bodies can analyze institutional budgets.

The conference’s opening plenary address was given by Cary Nelson, president of the AAUP. Nelson’s address, “Fighting for the Humanities,” is published in this issue of Academe.

Saturday’s plenary luncheon featured a discussion led by members of the AAUP’s joint Subcommittee on Contingent Faculty and Governance. As the percentage of faculty members holding contingent appointments grows, questions about the role that they should play in governance become ever more pressing. The subcommittee’s preliminary recommendations on contingent faculty and governance prompted a lively discussion.

Martin D. Snyder, the AAUP’s senior associate general secretary, closed the conference by calling on participants and faculty at large to situate their conversations about shared governance in the larger context of educational quality. In his address, Snyder urged faculty not to view shared governance simply as a faculty prerogative or responsibility but as a means of adding value to the teaching-learning experience.

Larry Gerber, chair of the AAUP’s Committee on College and University Governance, noted that while governance issues have always been central to the AAUP, they are more important than ever as administrations have been responding unilaterally to economic pressures by cutting programs and making other decisions that adversely affect the quality of higher education.

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