In The Same Room--The Lived Experience of College Faculty with their Administrators in a Shared Governance Environment
SubjectCollege administrators--Relations with faculty--Decision making; Shared governance--Education, Higher
The tensions existing between faculty and administrators at colleges and universities have come to be an accepted part of postsecondary education. Calls from lawmakers for increasing federal and state oversight, decreasing enrollments, and diminishing resources are among the many issues facing colleges today. Faculty and administrators who work at colleges subscribing to a shared governance model of decision-making attempt to address these and other challenges together, in the same room. Finding ways to assure the success of the shared governance process can be a challenge for most colleges, but one on which the future of such governance relies. The purpose of this heuristic phenomenological, qualitative research study was to look at the phenomenon of faculty’s lived experience working in a shared governance environment at small private liberal arts colleges. The researcher presents four themes that emerged from the primary data source, which was three interviews of nine tenured faculty members at three different small, private liberal arts colleges in the Midwest. The four themes are: 1) the relationships between faculty and their administrators influence the level of faculty engagement in shared governance; 2) faculty value communication and transparency and recognize how it influences their participation in decision-making; 3) the extent to which administrators value faculty input influences faculty morale and motivation to participate in governance; and 4) the complexities of power influence faculty engagement in governance. These findings could be used to aid faculty and administrators in the conversations about how to improve their own college’s practice of shared governance.