Resilient institutions and shared governance aspirations

In Brief

2-Minute Read

A national survey of faculty and senior administrators

  • Research exploring faculty and senior administrators viewed on shared governance shows that they share many of the same concerns, but differ on how to solve them.
  • Both groups are concerned about external pressures on their institution's future and aspire for greater transparency, communication, and inclusion.
  • Establishing common ground, such as prioritizing student success and educational mission, vision, and values, can lead to more effective shared governance and institutional resilience.

Shared governance provides the foundation for faculty and senior administrators to work together on defining and achieving success for their institutions. When done well, this collaborative approach strengthens institutions and fosters resilience.

But what happens when collaborative effort becomes challenging?

When asked to characterize the state of shared governance at their institutions, only 16% of faculty responded that it is very or extremely strong — and 37% of all faculty chose the most negative response, “not at all strong.”

These findings, along with others, come from a recent survey of faculty and senior administrators conducted by Huron in collaboration with the American Council on Education (ACE) and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Despite their differences, both groups are united in their concern about the external pressures on their institutions’ futures.

These concerns and additional survey results about what the two groups are looking for from one another reveal their individual aspirations for working together with greater levels of transparency, communication, and a willingness to change.

External pressures of high concern to faculty and administrators

Rising costs
63% of faculty
75% of administrators

Negative public perception of higher education
63% of faculty
63% of administrators

Political conflict at the state or federal level
56% of faculty
53% of administrators

Declining enrollment
48% of faculty
52% of administrators

Declining net tuition revenue
47% of faculty
59% of administrators

Strengthening trust

When asked what could be done to strengthen trust with the other, both groups cited faculty involvement and academic and administrative collaboration as among the top priority actions, underscoring the themes of transparency and inclusion that are prominent in many of the survey responses.

Strengthening trust: Top priorities among faculty and administrators

Faculty: What administrators can do

1. Transparency in shared decision-making (84%)

2. Faculty involvement (73%)

3. Academic and administrative collaboration (70%)

4. Resource allocation determination (54%)

5. Alignment to long-term strategic planning (31%)

6. Ethics and compliance (24%)

7. Conflict mediation (21%)

Administrators: What faculty can do

1. Academic and administrative collaboration (72%)

2. Faculty involvement (49%)

3. Alignment to long-term strategic planning (44%)

4. Transparency in shared decision-making (29%)

5. Conflict mediation (21%)

6. Resource allocation determination (19%)

7. Ethics and compliance (13%)

Signaling their desire to collaborate, a significant percentage of respondents from both groups are ready to work better together to achieve shared goals.

The path to institutional resilience

Establishing clarity related to shared interests can lead to more authentic forms of collaboration. The survey responses show that faculty and administrators are aligned on the importance of “student success” and “educational mission, vision, and values” as priority areas to establish common ground to safeguard their institution’s future.

Colleges and universities can capitalize on these shared interests by enhancing mechanisms that promote effective shared governance, establishing forums where every voice can be heard, and increasing the transparency of decision making.

When faculty and administrators engage more candidly and thoughtfully, it becomes increasingly possible to achieve a shared commitment to fostering effective governance and collaboratively pursuing a path to institutional resilience.

Download the full research brief for additional results and analysis.

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