Some suggestions received from comments:

1.  Gather definitions of shared governance.  Find the commonalities.  Go from there.  See comment.

2.  Everyone “should get to ride, but not to determine the final destination.”  See comment.

The literature of shared governance tends to focus on the role of faculty, administrators, and governing boards.  The readings that were posted on 10/26/09 illustrate this focus (although the AAUP/ACE/AGB piece does include some discussion of students).

All of this raises the question–is shared governance truly about sharing?  How do students and staff fit in?  Should alumni be part of shared governance?  In other words, who gets to ride the shared governance train and where do they get to sit?

Last academic year Emily Grannis, a senior campus writer for The Post, did a series on shared governance at Ohio University.  One of the articles asked faculty, administrators, and students  to define “shared governance.”  You can read her article here, but to quote one of the telling findings: “The Post received 22 unique definitions of the term from 26 OU sources.”

Andrew Jackson famously stated that it was a “poor mind indeed which can’t think of at least two ways to spell any word.”  Perhaps then we should rejoice that as a community we “spell” shared governance in multiple ways.  But if there is no common place for our academic community to anchor its definition of shared governance there is bound to be confusion and frustration.

Apparently, Ohio University isn’t the only institution that finds itself in need of a way to capture and concentrate  the complexities of what shared governance is and how it should operate.  There’s an abundant literature on the subject.  Some common readings on shared governance could serve as a common place to begin our discussion.

Stanley Fish in an article on shared governance suggested that while there may not be a “general model of governance, shared or otherwise,” (is that the case?) there are “general, even philosophical, considerations that will pertain to any conversation about governance” (that so?  what might those be?)

Please join in this university-wide conversation on shared governance sponsored by the Executive Vice President and Provost and the Executive Committee of Faculty Senate.