Shared Governance & Institutional Leadership Report
Faculty shared governance refers to the structures, processes, and practices through which faculty participate in institutional decision-making. Faculty engage in shared governance within their departments, colleges and schools, and at the university levels. This is achieved through committee service, participation in the Faculty Senate, and collective bargaining between the Massachusetts the Society of Professors and the administration. The faculty job satisfaction survey targets five key aspects of the relationships between stakeholders, including faculty and administrators, as described by COACHE:
Trust in other stakeholders as well as governance structures and processes
Shared sense of purpose across stakeholders with diverse interests and perspectives
Understanding the issue at hand by engaging stakeholders in an inclusive dialog
Adaptability of stakeholders’ approach to governance, in the interest of improved effectiveness
Productivity that signals effectiveness and motivates continued participation
For every single aspect of governance—from trust, shared sense of purpose, to understanding the issue at hand, adaptability, and productivity—UMass faculty were more satisfied than faculty at our peer institutions.
Most UMass faculty (68%) consider shared governance to be effective, indicating that faculty view productivity in a positive light. The majority of faculty agree that faculty and administrators follow rules of engagement (61%) and discuss difficult issues in good faith (57%), two aspects that reflect trust. Importantly, 72% say faculty and administrators usually have a shared sense of responsibility. In all of these measures, the satisfaction of UMass faculty is greater than that of their peers by 13-21%!
Furthermore, all demographic groups were either more satisfied or similarly satisfied in comparison to our peers. For example, no differences emerged by gender* with men and women being more satisfied than their institutional peers. The same findings applied to the comparisons by race and rank.
* COACHE reports findings by gender for men and women, including transgender men and women, but not for non-binary individuals.
Although UMass faculty are more satisfied than institutional peers, the absolute levels of satisfaction in some areas were low for all institutions. Twenty-nine percent say faculty and administrators typically have equal say in decisions and 37% agree that administrators usually communicate the rationale for important decisions, suggesting there are concerns about a shared understanding of the issue at hand. Only 25% of faculty agree that UMass regularly reviews effectiveness of governance, which is an indicator of adaptability. While faculty were quite satisfied that there is a shared sense of responsibility (72%), they rated another indicator of a shared sense of purpose much lower: 30% say that important decisions are usually not made until there is consensus and 35% agree that administrators ensure sufficient time for faculty input.
Institutional Leadership - Chancellor/Provost/Deans
UMass faculty were more satisfied with all levels of institutional leadership—from Deans to the Provost to the Chancellor— than faculty at our peer institutions on every aspect of leadership, from the pace of decision making to communicating priorities and ensuring faculty input. For example, the majority of faculty are satisfied with the pace of decision making of the Deans (53%), the Provost (51%), and the Chancellor (51%) and the average satisfaction levels at our peer institutions are 10-12% lower for the senior leadership.
The faculty’s satisfaction with the stated priorities of senior leadership and the communication of these priorities differed depending on their rank and career stage (as shown above). Tenured faculty (54%) were more satisfied than pre-tenure (41%) and non-tenure track (NTT) faculty (39%) with the stated priorities of the provost. The disparity was greater when faculty considered how clearly stated priorities were communicated (55%, 39%, 37%, respectively). The pattern was similar when asked about the chancellor: tenured faculty have a more positive view than pre-tenure and NTT faculty of the priorities (62%, 42%, 47%, respectively) and how clearly priorities were communicated (58%, 41%, 49%, respectively).
Institutional Leadership - Faculty Organizations/Governing Bodies
Faculty were more satisfied than their peers with faculty leadership. However, this measure is challenging to interpret as an aggregate because approximate half of the respondents (212 faculty) indicated that they were considering the faculty union (MSP) when answering these survey questions and another large group (150 faculty) was considering the Faculty Senate. Another 73 faculty choose divisional leadership or whole faculty, and 50 declined to answer.
After analyzing the survey data separately for the two major groups who chose either the MSP or the faculty union as the faculty leaders to consider in the survey, satisfaction with the MSP’s stated priorities (80%), the communication of these priorities (83%) and the pace of decision-making (74%) emerged as strengths.
The subset of 150 faculty, who considered the Faculty Senate in their survey, expressed low levels of satisfaction with its stated priorities (35%), the communication of these priorities to the faculty (29%), and its pace of decision making (20%).
Based on interviews with twenty chief academic officers and drawing on the relevant literature, the COACHE initiative made the following five recommendations on how to build a culture of effective shared governance (Ott & Mathews 2015)
Step back: get reacquainted with the diverse constituencies on your campus. Start a conversation about the effectiveness of the status quo.
Build consensus: Cultivate a shared vision for the future of your institution. Clarify expectations for governance.
Lead by example: Model transparency by communicating openly. Model accountability for your role in governance. Demonstrate respect for and openness to diverse perspectives.
Build capacity: Build human capital by investing in professional development. Enrich the network of relationships on your campus. Facilitate an inclusive dialog about governance issues.
Focus on results: Map out an agenda for governance. Negotiate a flexible approach to unusual decision making situations. Celebrate the achievements of governance and share credit.
The UMass ADVANCE team has developed inclusive strategies for departments that can be adapted for shared decision-making at other levels of governance: