I have been writing about the institutional role of the faculty in shared governance. I have been focusing on the constitution of a faculty government as a means of effectively organizing the aggregation of individual faculty (each holders of fundamental shared governance power) in the furtherance of an aggregate faculty governance role. On the Institutional Role of a Faculty Senate: Part 1; On the Institutional Role of a Faculty Senate--Part 2.
(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2012))
I have also been suggesting the ways in which such efforts at self constitution and aggregate action can be undermined by administrative action. Today I speak to an important weapon in the arsenal of those who might undermine faculty effectiveness in governance--scheduling.
For a faculty organization to function, it requires its members to be available to meet. Many meeting may be scheduled with regularity--the periodic meetings of all faculty representatives, the meetings of unit faculty and the meetings of faculty serving a role on committees of the faculty organization. Even special meeting may be scheduled with some degree of confidence. for regularly scheduled meetings. Indeed, it must be conceded that no organization can long survive, or function effectively, if its members cannot meet form time to time.
Shared governance ought to require administrators, form the highest to the lowest levels, to be sensitive to these basic organizational needs of faculty governance organizations. That sensitivity, at a minimum, ought to impose on administrations at the unit or department level, an obligation to avoid scheduling other activities during the time set aside for university faculty governance organization meetings. These schooling "conflicts" do much to undermine the ability of faculty members to participate in governance.
But time and again, I have been confronted with a different reality. Unit administrations and their scheduling personnel, appear indifferent at best to the scheduling needs of department faculty serving on faculty governance organizations. The indifference turns to hostility when such scheduling personnel ignore information received both about the time of regularly scheduled meetings and the obligations of faculty serving in faculty governance organizations. There is little excuse for this indifference. At best it suggests an attitude that faculty governance responsibilities do not matter. At worst, it suggests a hostility to such governance by creating low level impediments to its effective discharge. Either way, such scheduling tendencies ought to be avoided, or explained. They certainly should be exposed.