July 21, 2024

What is the Role of the Faculty?

Thank you for coming out to the campus Q&A sessions over the past couple of weeks. While the specific concerns raised varied, a couple of themes have clearly emerged. Faculty are very concerned that their voices are not being heard. A related and broader concern is that recent statements and actions by constituencies throughout MC have demonstrated a general lack of understanding of what the role of the faculty should be within the College community.

Before you read on, I’d like you to give some thought to this:

What is, or should be, the role of the faculty in a College community?

This is an important question, and we can’t expect others to understand and appreciate the role that we play if we aren’t clear on it ourselves.

I don’t claim to have the answer as to what our role should be, but I have an answer that I’d like to put forward for discussion. This proposal isn’t mine, it is excerpted from the AAUP’s Redbook, a collection of recommended policies published nearly 50 years ago. While some aspects of this recommendation are more directly relevant at a research university than for us in a community college, the idea behind this is powerful enough to merit being copied verbatim:

“The faculty has primary responsibility for such fundamental areas as curriculum, subject matter and methods of instruction, research, faculty status, and those aspects of student life which relate to the educational process. On these matters the power of review or final decision lodged in the governing board or delegated by it to the president should be exercised adversely only in exceptional circumstances, and for reasons communicated to the faculty. It is desirable that the faculty should, following such communication, have opportunity for further consideration and further transmittal of its views to the president or board.”

Note that while this statement is taken from an AAUP publication, it was jointly written by the AAUP, the American Council on Education (ACE), and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) – it is an ideal endorsed by organizations representing faculty, administrators and the Boards of colleges and universities nationwide. The full Redbook can be accessed through links on our website; the statement on governance, from which the above was copied, can be found at http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/pubsres/policydocs/contents/governancestatement.htm#b5 .

Undoubtedly, in general the faculty at MC are allowed to lead in areas such as curriculum, subject matter and methods of instruction. Recently raised concerns, however, bring into question whether the lead of the faculty is given the weight of “primary responsibility” – i.e., is there a recognition that the will of the faculty should not be taken as advisory, but rather the final word barring extremely compelling reasons to the contrary?

My questions to you, then are twofold:

  1. What do you see as the appropriate role for the faculty at MC?
  2. And, is that role currently fulfilled by the faculty?