Modeling Shared Governance at the School and Department Level
Academic Leadership - Online Journal,
Vol. 9 No. 4 (2008): Vol-9-Issue-4-April-2008
Without question, the concept and practice of shared governance is critical to the health and vitality of
any institution of higher education. Perhaps no other characteristic distinguishes American higher
education more than this system of participatory governance and oversight. Democratic involvement in
institutional decision-making, both operational and strategic, and at the institutional, school, and even
academic department level, is necessary for institutional effectiveness and efficiency (Eckel, 2000).
However, the issue is not without controversy, as shared governance is second only to tenure as most
debated topic in academe (Tierney & Holley, 2005).
The tradition of shared governance rests on the assumption that faculty should hold a substantive role in
decision-making, and the most visible vehicle for faculty involvement is typically a faculty senate or
some similar body. Such senates currently exist on the campuses of more than 90 percent of
America’s four-year colleges and universities.