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Committee of University Government discusses improving leadership structure

"All institutions grow organically, including ours."

The Faculty Committee on University Government meets on Wednesday Apr 28, 2021 to discuss how to make the faculty government more effective.

The Faculty Committee on University Government hosted two professors from other institutions at its meeting Wednesday to discuss how to maximize the effectiveness of faculty governance — what works, and what doesn't.

The committee also discussed leadership structure, committee recruitment and possible reconstruction of bylaws at the meeting. 

University of Pennsylvania professor Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Ohio State University professor Susan Cole answered questions about university government at their respective institutions.

What happened?

  • UNC law professor Anne Klinefelter opened the dialogue by asking Jamieson about the organization of leadership structure in faculty governance at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • “We don’t usually get into parliamentary matters in the Senate Executive Committee — the faculty as a whole is called the senate," Jamieson responded. "Constitute groups elect into the Senate Executive Committee and the Senate Executive Committee creates committee structures that are central to the organization model."
  • Jamieson said that it is helpful to learn from peer institutions. 
  • “There is a difference between public and private universities,” Jamieson said. “We have learned a lot dealing with other Ivys. We ask them, ‘Have you ever faced this? And what did you do?' We share the same constraints administratively, and I have benefitted enormously from this."

After Jamieson left the meeting, Cole joined and continued answering questions from committee members. 

  • Klinefelter asked Cole about recruitment efforts to university government positions at Ohio State. She said strong recruitment varies each year, based on how effective the faculty senate is. 
  • “Recruitment has increased since we have one-year terms," Cole said. "I think the shorter terms help with the issues — that people are likely to have offers in the admin or need to leave for certain reasons."

After Jamieson and Cole left the meeting, committee members debriefed about the conversations and discussed governance at UNC. 

  • UNC School of Medicine professor Bruce Cairns said it is difficult for him to imagine radical reconstruction of University government, as he does not get the sense that any peer institutions have a drastically better system. 
  • “All institutions grow organically, including ours," UNC law professor Andy Hessick said.
  • “We have shared government when the administration talks to the faculty, and conversation is key in faculty governance,” Director of the Office of Faculty Governance Vincas Steponaitis said. "We are doing all of the right things, learning and discussing.”

What's next? 

The Faculty Committee on University Government will not meet again during the 2020-21 academic year.

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