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Faculty Participation in Shared Governance at UIUC

ACES New Faculty Orientation

Michael Grossman, 22 August 2005

Governance of an institution of higher education is most effective when there is cooperation among the governing board, administrators, faculty, students, and staff. When shared interests of the participants converge, collegial relations make the university the best place to teach, to do research, and to serve the people of the state. Shared governance is what makes a good university great.

Central to a system of shared governance is the recognition by all participants, including the governing board and the administration, that “the faculty is the university.”

The faculty of the university, as defined in the University of Illinois Statutes, is responsible for the teaching, research, and scholarly activities of the university. The faculty, therefore, has “inherent interests and rights in academic policy and governance.” The faculty governs the administration of each college or academic unit, through its bylaws. Those bylaws, established and amended by the faculty of that unit, determine the administrative organization and procedure of the unit, “including the composition and tenure of executive or advisory committees.”

The faculty shares in the governance of the university in all matters related to educational policy, broadly defined, because the faculty is in the best position to set educational policy. The AAUP, in its 1966 Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities, recognizes the authority of the governing board and the administration. Nevertheless, it points out that faculty, together with the administration, staff, and students, have important roles to

establish policy and procedures for admission, content of courses and curricula, requirements for degrees and certificates, grades and grading, the academic calendar, and other matters pertaining to education; advise on changes in academic organization, such as the termination, separation, transfer, merger, change in status (e.g., department to school), or renaming of academic units; establish policy and procedures for promotion and tenure, dismissal, sabbatical leaves, and support of research; search for, and recommend appointments or nonreappointments of, faculty and administrators, including the dean, the chancellor, and the president; develop and advise on budgets and advise on allocation of resources for the department, the college, the campus, and the university; establish policy and procedures to set rates for tuition and fees; set long-term goals and develop strategic plans for the department, the college, the campus, and the university; and develop a master plan for buildings and other physical resources.

The faculty must remember, however, that it has a collegial, not adversarial, relationship with the administration. Faculty and administration have a shared goal, but not all advice that the faculty gives the administration is taken. It would be foolhardy, however, for the administration to ignore completely the advice of the faculty. The administration must remember that to accomplish its goals, it must get the buy-in of the faculty. The faculty must have a specified role in the decision-making process so that they have an investment in the decision.

To understand the role faculty plays in sharing governance, however, one must understand how the university is governed.

Board of Trustees and the University Administration

The Legislature of the State of Illinois created the University of Illinois by the University of Illinois Act (110 ILCS 305) and established the Board of Trustees by the University of Illinois Trustees Act (110 ILCS 310). The Board of Trustees is responsible to the people of Illinois.

The Board of Trustees has final authority over the university and exercises jurisdiction in all matters, except those matters it has delegated to the president or other officers of the university. The Board, in cooperation with the faculty, established a set of Statutes that provide a framework for governance of the university. Campus senates of the university or the Board may propose amendments to the Statutes, but the Board cannot amend the Statutes without consulting the senates. Notice that the requirement is for consultation, not approval of the senates.[1]

In addition to the Statutes, the Board of Trustees adopted a set of regulations, The General Rules Concerning University Organization and Procedure, which deals with the administrative organization of the university. The Board may change The General Rules upon recommendation of the president and after consultation with the University Senates Conference. Notice again that the requirement is for consultation, not approval of Senates Conference.

The Board formulates university policies, but the administration executes those policies. In the administration of the university, the president is the chief executive officer. Other university officers include three vice presidents (for academic affairs, for administration, and for technology and economic development) and three chancellors (for UIUC, for UIC, and for UIS).

The Board of Trustees is composed of thirteen members: nine appointed by the Governor; three students, one elected from each campus for a one-year term; and the Governor, ex officio. One student trustee, selected by the Governor, has an official vote.

Several standing committees help do the work of the Board. Of special interest to faculty is the Academic Affairs Committee. Through this committee, the Board communicates with campus senates and the University Senates Conference to ensure ongoing interaction with faculty governance groups.[2] The chair of the Academic Affairs Committee, as well as the president, convey to the Board matters of interest to the faculty.

UIUC Campus Administration

The chancellor is the chief executive officer for the campus. The provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs is the chief academic and budget officer for the campus. There are three other vice chancellors: for research, for student affairs, and for public engagement and institutional relations.

When a new vice chancellor is appointed, the chancellor must seek advice of the senate’s executive committee. Notice once again that the requirement is for the chancellor to seek advice, not approval of the executive committee.

It is a strong tradition at UIUC that the faculty is intimately involved as members of search committees in the selection of university, campus, and college officers, namely the president, the chancellor, the provost, and deans and department heads or chairs.

UIUC Senate

According to Statutes, “As the responsible body in teaching, research, and scholarly activities of the University, the faculty has inherent interests and rights in academic policy and governance.”

Senates derive their authority from the Statutes, which allow each senate to exercise legislative functions in matters of educational policy that affect the University as a whole or only its own campus. For each campus, the senate determines matters of educational policy, including requirements for admission, requirements for degrees and certificates, the academic calendar, and educational policy on student affairs.

The UIUC senate comprises about 200 faculty and about 50 students and is the legislative body of the campus. At our campus, the chancellor presides over meetings of the senate.

The senate functions mostly through its committees: its ad hoc committees, its standing committees, and its Executive Committee. The Executive Committee is composed of 16 members, most elected by the senate:

the chair and vice-chair; three students elected, including at least one undergraduate and at least one graduate or professional student; chairs of five prescribed standing committees: Committee on Committees, Educational Policy, General University Policy, Information Technology, and University Statutes and Senate Procedures; three chairs elected each year from the remaining standing committees: Academic Freedom and Tenure, Admissions, Budget, Campus Operations, Conference on Conduct Governance Equal Opportunity, Faculty Benefits, Honorary Degrees, Library, Public Engagement, Student Discipline, and University Student Life; and senate representatives to the University Senates Conference, the Faculty Advisory Council to the Board of Higher Education, and the Council of Academic Professionals.

Among many important duties of the Executive Committee, in addition to coordinating the activities of the senate, two are of special interest to faculty: one is to provide advice to the president on the annual reappointment of the chancellor and the other is to provide advice to the chancellor on the appointment or annual reappointment of vice chancellors.

Among many important committees of the senate, one committee deserves special attention. The General University Policy Committee, as specified in the senate bylaws, studies and reports its recommendations to the senate on issues concerning general university policy in broad terms, including issues concerning not only this campus but also other campuses and the university as well.[3]

University Senates Conference

Statutes provide for a legislative body of the university, which is the University Senates Conference. The Senates Conference, which comprises 20 members elected by the three campus senates, reviews matters acted upon by each senate and proposes its own recommendations. The Conference assists senates to communicate with one another, with university and campus administrative officials, and with the Board of Trustees (through the president). The Conference helps to maintain harmonious relations and promotes agreement or consistency among the three senates.

In addition to its other duties, the Conference advises the Board of Trustees, the president of the university, other administrative officials, and campus senates on matters of concern to the university.[4]

Faculty Advisory Committee The administration receives advice from various sources. The faculty usually advises the administration through standing and ad hoc committees and through representation in the senate. In addition, the faculty at each campus elects a Faculty Advisory Committee, which establishes its own eligibility for membership and its own rules of procedure, as provided for in the Statutes. This committee is a channel for communication between the faculty and the administration by providing a voice for suggestions for the good of the university on matters of interest and concern to the faculty. Moreover, it provides added recourse for the consideration of grievances. The president, the chancellor, or any member of the academic staff may request the committee, which also may act on its own initiative, to investigate or hold consultations on any matter it considers to be in the best interest of the university, for example, the possibility of dismissal of a tenured member of the faculty.

Senate Representatives to Other Bodies

In addition to faculty representation on senate committees, the senate has faculty representatives to several governing and advisory bodies. These bodies include the Athletic Board, the State Universities Retirement System Members Advisory Committee, the Faculty Advisory Council to the Board of Higher Education, the Military Education Council, and the Research Policy Committee.

Council of Academic Professionals

Shared governance of the university is not an endeavor solely of the faculty; it includes academic professionals as well. Academic professionals are staff members whose positions involve specialized administrative, professional, or technical skills. Academic professionals serve as voting members on various senate committees. The UIUC Council of Academic Professionals represents, for example, academic counselors, information technologists, and laboratory managers.

Illinois Student Senate

The Illinois Student Senate is the official voice of students at the university. The student senate focuses on improving the campus environment for students, by promoting health, safety, and participation on campus. The student senate represents students in the campus senate and works to represent students to the campus administration.

Students contribute greatly to shared governance. In fact, students are represented on every senate standing committee, except Faculty Benefits and University Senates Conference.

Local Opportunities for Shared Governance

In addition to opportunities for faculty to share in the governance of the university at the levels of the campus and university, there are opportunities even closer to their disciplines, namely at the levels of the college and department.

The college comprises departments and other units with common educational interests and is governed internally by its faculty, under bylaws established by the faculty. It is governance of the faculty, by the faculty, and for the faculty, to rephrase Abraham Lincoln.

The college has jurisdiction in all educational matters falling within the scope of its programs, including the determination of its curricula. The dean is the chief executive officer of the college, and is the agent of the faculty for the execution of educational policy.

Among other duties, the dean prepares the budget of the college together with the executive committee. The executive committee, elected by the college faculty, is the primary advisory committee to the dean, and advises on formulation and execution of college policies.

The dean is appointed annually by the Board of Trustees on recommendation by the chancellor and the president after advice of the college’s executive committee. The faculty evaluates the performance of the dean at least once every five years.

The department is the primary unit of education and administration in the university. The department has full autonomy over its educational policy, consistent with college and university educational policy. A department may be organized either with a chair or with a head, depending on a vote of the faculty and recommendation to the Board of Trustees by the dean, the chancellor, and the president.

If the department is organized with a chair, then the department has an elected executive committee, which recommends academic appointments in the department. The chair and executive committee are responsible for organization of work of the department, for preparation of the budget and expenditure of funds, and for other matters that may be delegated to them by faculty of the department. The chair is responsible for formulation and execution of departmental policies. The chair is appointed annually by the Board of Trustees on recommendation by the chancellor and the president after consulting the dean and departmental executive committee. The entire departmental faculty, among others, evaluates the performance of the chair at least once every five years. If the department is organized with a head, then the department has an elected advisory committee. The head consults with the advisory committee and recommends academic appointments in the department. The head consults with the advisory committee in regard to departmental policy and in preparing the departmental budget. The advisory committee functions to provide for orderly voicing of suggestions for the good of the department, to recommend procedures and committees that encourage faculty participation in formulating policy, and to perform other tasks that may be assigned to it. The head directs and organizes the work of the department. The head is responsible for formulation and execution of departmental policies, and for distribution and expenditure of funds. The head is appointed by the Board of Trustees on recommendation by the chancellor and the president after consulting the dean and entire departmental faculty. The entire departmental faculty, among others, evaluates the performance of the head at least once every five years. The faculty of the department can request that the form of the organization of the department be changed. If a change of organization is voted, the chancellor transmits the request to the president for recommendation to the Board of Trustees. Summary

The authority and tradition for faculty participation in shared governance at UIUC are grounded in the Statutes. The faculty has a fundamental responsibility, therefore, to participate in governance of the university. As in all responsibilities of good citizenship, it is up to each faculty member to be a good academic citizen and to maintain high professional standards that foster academic excellence.


AAUP, 1966. Statement on government of colleges and universities. [www.aaup. org/statements/Redbook/Govern.htm]

Illinois Compiled Statutes: University of Illinois Act (110ILCS305) and University of Illinois Trustees Act (110ILCS310). []

Spitze, R. G. F. and V. J. Stone, 1994. Faculty participation in university governance. UIUC Chapter of AAUP.

University of Illinois, 2002. Statutes. []

University of Illinois, 2003. Bylaws of the Board of Trustees [ /trustees/bylaws.asp]

University of Illinois, 2004. The General Rules Concerning University Organization and Procedure. [www.]

University of Illinois, 2005. The Board of Trustees. [ index.asp]

[1] Two recently proposed amendments to the Statutes involve academic professionals. One provides optional multi-year contracts, and related dismissal procedures, for certain non-tenure-track academic staff not currently eligible for contracts longer than one year. Another clarifies employment policies of academic professionals who work at the level of University Administration, so the policies will be those of the campus at which their principal office is located. [2] In 2005, the chair of the Board proposed a process by which campus senates (through their observers to meetings of the Board) and Senates Conference (through its Executive Committee) meet with the chair and vice-chair of the Academic Affairs Committee to discuss items on the Board’s agenda and other items that are of mutual interest to the faculty and the Board. [3] Recent issues for General University Policy Committee include the possibility of multi-year contracts for non-tenure-track academic staff, a review of university administrative structure, and a procedure to monitor the Campus Master Plan.

[4] Recent issues for Senates Conference include faculty representation to the Board of Trustees, extension of benefits to same-sex and opposite-sex domestic partners, and Chief Illiniwek.