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Governance Reconsidered: How Boards, Presidents, Administrators, and Faculty Can Help Their Colleges Thrive

ISBN: 978-1-118-73849-8
256 pages
May 2014, Jossey-Bass
Governance Reconsidered: How Boards, Presidents, Administrators, and Faculty Can Help Their Colleges Thrive (1118738497) cover image


Revamp senior administration organization for more effective governance

Governance Reconsidered: How Boards, Presidents, Administrators, and Faculty Can Help Their Colleges Thrive takes an in-depth look at the current practice of governance in higher education and explores solutions for more effective functioning. Written by a former college president, the book provides an insider's perspective on the growing tensions around the traditional shared governance model and identifies the key challenges facing trustees, presidents, senior administrators, and faculty.

Traditional shared governance operations are typically time-consuming, process-laden, and slow to respond to the internal and external forces acting upon modern educational institutions. Higher education is facing increasing political and economic pressure, and senior administration frequently needs the flexibility to make institutional decisions quickly. Using recent public scandals as examples, Governance Reconsidered illustrates how the tension between the need for timely decisions and action versus the importance of mission and academic quality is creating a dramatic systemic problem. The book provides practical advice on the issues at the heart of the matter, including:

  • The nature and pace of change on campus, including the pressures facing higher education
  • Clarity about the roles and responsibilities of trustees, the president, and the faculty
  • The campus community's role in decision-making activities
  • How thriving universities can govern collaboratively

The book also addresses the brand new challenges that affect higher education governance, including MOOCs, online learning, and rising questions about value and cost. Campus leaders must work together effectively to boost higher education, and Governance Reconsidered contains the questions and answers integral to implementing effective governance.

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Table of Contents

Foreword ix

Preface xiii

Acknowledgments xxi

About the Author xxv

1. Shared Governance: Its History and Its Challenges 1

The Pressures on Shared Governance 3

Differences in How Shared Governance Has Been Practiced 6

The History of Shared Governance 7

Differences over the Nature and Pace of Change 13

Pressures on Trustees, Presidents, and Faculty to Change 23

2. The Impact of Financial Pressures on Governance 25

The Causes of Financial Pressures 26

Efforts to Control Tuition and Limit Growing Financial Aid 33

The Dangers of Business as Usual in Times of Budget Problems 37

A Successful, Proactive Approach to Financial Pressures 42

3. The Impact on Governance of Contingent

Faculty, Online Learning, and MOOCs 45

Reliance on Contingent Faculty Affects Governance 46

Online Courses and MOOCs 58

4. The Impact on Governance of Questions About Higher Education’s Value and Cost 69

Higher Education Is Vulnerable to Criticism 70

Claims That Colleges Are Failing to Educate Students 75

Elected Officials Seek to Influence Higher Education 78

Trustees Are Assuming More Activist Roles 87

5. Cautionary Tales: Protests of Presidential Actions and Lessons for Shared Governance 89

Chief Financial Officers Seek Academic Cost Reductions 90

Recommendations for Presidents 109

6. Cautionary Tales: Faculty Failures and Recommendations for Collaboration 123

Case Studies: Faculties That Resist Administrative Decisions 125

Recommendations for Faculty Members 141

7. Cautionary Tales: Boards That Fail to Fulfill Their Fiduciary Responsibilities and Recommendations for Changes 153

Examples of Boards Failing to Provide Oversight 154

Lessons Learned 167

Recommendations for Boards 167

The Complexity of Terminating a President 169

Recommendations for Boards That Are Confronted with Concerns About Presidential Performance 170

8. Exemplary Tales: Successful Presidents 185

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County 188

Kettering University 191

American International College 194

Pitzer College 197

Commonalities 199

Resources 201

References 203

Index 215

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Author Information

SUSAN RESNECK PIERCE is president emerita of the University of Puget Sound. As president of SRP Consulting, she advises colleges and universities on planning, effective board and presidential performance, board development, governance, and fundraising. She is the author of On Being Presidential: A Guide for College and University Leaders (Jossey-Bass, 2012).

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Press Release

June 06, 2014
Governance Reconsidered: How Boards, Presidents, Administrators, and Faculty Can Help Their Colleges Thrive

Former college president Susan Resneck Pierce draws on years of experience consulting with colleges and universities and shares her inside view of the growing tensions around the traditional shared governance model.


This book explores the topic of governance both as it is being practiced in the current educational and economic environment and how it might more effectively function. It identifies key challenges facing trustees, presidents, senior administrators and faculty and specifies their responsibilities. The book is grounded in the notion that both the external and internal pressures facing colleges and universities today demand that boards do more than just come for lunch and bask in the prestige that being a trustee brings to them. Rather, they must add genuine value to the institution and must be the president's strategic partner. In this book, Pierce addresses the following questions:


•    Who should be responsible for the nature and pace of change on campuses?

•    How can colleges and universities simultaneously be able to make pressing decisions in a timely fashion while giving appropriate deference to the faculty in academic matters?

•    Given the critical role of the president, how should boards select and evaluate presidents, and what role should other members of the campus community, particularly the faculty, play in these activities?


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Governance Reconsidered: How Boards, Presidents, Administrators, and Faculty Can Help Their Colleges Thrive

By Susan R. Pierce

Wiley / 978-1-118-73849-8/ May 2014

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