Wednesday, May 1, 2013

New Name Same Mission: Introducing "Monitoring University Governance"

My year as Chair of the Penn State University Faculty Senate has ended and with it this blog as it was formerly constituted as "The Faculty Voice". 

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2013)

With this post I am pleased to announce the successor blog--"Monitoring University Governance" to which I welcome you today. 


My year as Chair of the Penn State University Faculty Senate came to an end with the April 23, 2013 University Faculty Senate Meeting.  It ended like it started, with a focus on governance and a hope for deepening engagement by faculty in the enterprise it shares with others in operating modern U.S.  research universities.

Throughout the year I suggested that changing patterns and cultures of university governance was necessarily also affecting the role of the faculties in their shared governance of the university.  I sought to emphasize and increasing monitoring obligation by faculty--an obligation to monitor it shares increasingly, and as reluctantly at times, with boards of trustees.  

To that end, I have re-named and re-focused this blog.  It will now seek to contribute to shared governance at the university by monitoring and engaging in governance.  The tone is academic--my primary research interests at the Law School and the School of International Affairs is institutional governance.  There is no agenda other than the obvious--faculty, administrators and board members have important and unique roles to play in governance.  None of them can work effectively unless they remain accountable to the others and to other important stakeholders.  To that end, monitoring and assessment--analysis of actions and critical review of policy--is a useful and necessary task and the principal focus of the materials to be considered. 

The core mission of this blog remains the same:
One of the great dangers of governance in large institutions governed through power sharing arrangements, whether more or less vertically or horizontally arranged, is disengagement from groups for which an actor is responsible or with which an actor shares governance responsibilities.  That is no less true of universities than it is of large multinational corporations, the great organs of non-governmental governance and states. Indeed, the problem of disengagement, and its threat to the appropriate working of shared governance is perhaps greater within a university setting where functionally differentiated roles of board of trustees, administration and faculty, in the face of very real asymmetries of power, makes it harder to remain true to the principles of shared governance except perhaps as gesture. 

. . . . .
This site is dedicated to transparency and faculty governance. Its principal focus is the role of the faculty and its network of organizations.   That focus will take two forms.  The first is internal--the site is intended to serve as a space where internal transparency is enhanced and greater engagement in the faculty's governance role made possible. . . . But everyone has a stake in governance.  To some extent many of the issues covered in this site can be generalized and applied in the host of other institutions.  Moreover the experiences of people in other institutions may well enrich and inform our own experiences here at Penn State. (Welcome! April 26, 2012).
Your future participation and engagement is appreciated. Together we might be able to better engage in university governance in our respective institutions, and, by sharing information, contribute in significant ways to the academic study of university governance--neutrally, bluntly and honestly, with no agenda other than to seek to make the university a better place.  

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