faculty in conversation

Sharing governance

Ask for a definition of shared faculty governance on Emory's campus, and you'll get many answers. But this semester, the president, the provost, and the Faculty Council -- led by Chair Kathryn Yount and Chair-Elect Jaffar Khan -- are taking a close look at shared governance to reach a common understanding of what it means, establish principles around governance, and explore governance initiatives that will make the university a leader in higher education.

Governance at Emory is shared by the Board of Trustees and the administration as well as faculty, staff, and students. "Shared governance is more important than ever because of the world in which we live, one in which social changes, globalization, economics, and technology are rapidly remapping the landscape for higher education," Provost Claire Sterk says. "Institutions can't exist in isolation. We need to adjust to those changes and take on leadership in how we manage their impact."

A Faculty Council task force, with broad university input, worked in the fall 2014 semester to establish principles for implementing shared governance. These principles -- interdependence, inclusiveness, transparency, democracy, accountability, and collegiality -- are now in the process of being incorporated into the Faculty Handbook. "The principles are not meant to prescribe specific governance actions," says Associate Professor of Environmental Health Justin Remais, who chaired the task force, "but rather to set a standard."

Another Faculty Council group is taking on a governance implementation around promotion and tenure. Under consideration is the formation of a university-level tenure and promotion committee that goes beyond providing advice to one that makes recommendations for which committee members are held accountable.

The goal of all these efforts "is to enable Emory to be the best it can be," says Sterk. She discusses shared governance in a video about governance in Emory's 2014 annual report.