(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2015)
Few people really like to think about the structural bones of governing an institution. It is a lot like thinking about structural integrity--foundation, plumbing or wiring--when looking at houses. Most people prefer to worry about lighting fixtures than the state of the electrical system that is necessary to run the lights. Likewise, most people find the issue of governance either opaque, arcane or unnecessary for something "simple", like the way a university is managed (it used to be governed, but that is another story).
One of the most interesting trends in recent years has been the way that university administrations have sought to weaken traditional structures of faculty representation by embracing a populist-technocratic model of governance.
A good example of the way in which the new populist-technocratic model of university governance operates might be seen in recent efforts at Penn State relating to the long standing and contentious issue of benefits. What follows is (1) a short description of the characteristics of the new mass democracy models that are generally emerging in university governance, and (2) an excellent example of the deployment of the techniques of the populist-technocratic model of governance in aid of the socialization of faculty directly respecting reforms of benefits at Penn State. It is clear that as change comes to the university, university administrations in the United States will seek much less engagement and much more control. Within this new construct there is very little room for an effective institutional organ of faculty representation.