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Volume 68, Issue 53, Thursday, November 7, 2002


Faculty seeks shared governance at UH

By Sheree Stubblefield
The Daily Cougar

Disgruntled with the administrative leadership at UH, the faculty senate held a symposium on models of shared governance in an effort to create a better relationship with the administration. 

Although many ideas were discussed, the faculty came to no definite conclusions about how to implement a better system.

"Every bad decision (by the administration) has affected the faculty," said law professor Michael Olivas, who is also director of the Institute for Higher Education Law and Governance. Olivas delivered the keynote address, in which he spoke about nine case studies of shared governance in practice.

UH law professor Michael Olivas gave the keynote speech on shared governance at a Faculty Senate symposium Wednesday. Many faculty members feel they donit have enough say in the way the administration runs this University.
Pin Lim/The Daily Cougar

He didnit give specific examples of bad decisions at UH, but the overall sentiment was that a lack of input by faculty into administrative decisions has made for an environment in which the faculty feels slighted and, sometimes, expendable.

The tenants of shared governance state that the faculty should have a direct line of communication with the powers that be so dilemmas, financial allocations and other issues can be resolved with more assistance from the faculty. This is supposed to lead to results more acceptable to all involved.

One audience member said the faculty must "learn to reverse bad decisions, instead of letting them burden you."

The symposium, held at the UH Hiltonis Waldorf Astoria Room, gave the faculty a chance to respond to and propose solutions to the displeasure they are having with the current administration. Nearly 50 representatives of various departments and programs attended.

A perceived lack of shared governance was one reason for the negative results on the Faculty Climate Survey that was released in September. It found the administration "seriously deficient" in many areas, and gave very low marks to some top administrators.

Shared governance "is something that has to be learned," said George Manger, professor of social work and a senior vice president emeritus. "Itis important to the vitality of the university."

The faculty senate discussed why the dilemma began at all. They said it had to do with a change over the years in the way universities have been run. Administrators donit necessarily come from the faculty anymore, but go to people who were trained to be administrators.

The faculty feels this has created a rift between the two entities, which should act as a unit so "we can best serve our students," Manger said.

The conclusion that UH needs more shared governance was easily reached, but ideas on how to put it into effect werenit as easy.

"What we need now is conversation," said Anne Jacobson, associate professor of philosophy and president-elect of the Faculty Senate. She said she thinks peopleis attitudes need to change and that shared governance has to be somewhat of an informal system.

"We need to think about managing ourselves. If we are going to excite and move people, there must be more communication between the levels," Jacobson said. "Iim sure thereis some way weire going to manage this."

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