The role of the Administration in the operation of the Senate

[Advice to a member of the Faculty of the School of Veterinary Medicine 11/5/2002]

The general concern is the role of the Administration of the School of Veterinary Medicine in the curricular committees of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.  It is important to distinguish between what is formally permissible and what is in keeping with the spirit of shared governance as expressed in the Standing Orders of the Regents.  The underlying conception of the Regents is that the faculty rather than the Administration should control the curriculum.  The matter is complicated by the fact that most senior academic administrators are also members of the Senate and retain rights within the Senate.

CERJ believes that in a well-ordered Faculty, consistent with the Regents' Standing Orders, Administrators would take a secondary role in curricular matters.  It is usual in most Faculties for certain administrators to serve as ex officio members of various committees.  It is unusual for several to serve on the same committee -- either ex officio or by election (or appointment).  To do so stacks the deck and undermines the spirit of shared governance.  There are clear risks to faculty independence when Administrators dominate committees.  After all, they often control money and influence personnel actions.  If they are ex officio appointments, they have a more enduring presence on the committee, which helps them to control the agenda.  For all these reasons, faculty independence is fostered by more separation between the Administration and the Faculty.

But who are the guardians of shared governance and faculty independence?  The Code of the Senate provides only limited direct protection.  The main resource is found in the faculty themselves.  Each Faculty has the right -- consistent with the bylaws of the Senate and the Division -- to organize itself.  The members of the Faculty have mechanisms through which they can insist on a separation of powers between the Administration and the faculty.  Bylaws may be written or amended to shift the balance of power toward ordinary faculty.  Faculty may elect people to the Executive Committee or other committees who will ensure that faculty interests are maintained.

Let us turn to your three specific questions:

1. Does the involvement of the Administration of the school in the curriculum, and conditions for admissions, degrees, and certificates as defined in the schools bylaws violate the Standing Orders of the Regents or the Code of the Senate?

CERJ agrees that the amount of involvement of the Administration in these matters is unusually high in the School of Veterinary Medicine and strains the spirit of shared governance.  However, we believe that this involvement is within the letter of the law.  The only direct restrictions imposed by the Code of the Senate are found in Academic Senate Bylaw 50.C and Davis Division Bylaw 137.  These bylaws prohibit the dean or other senior administrators of a Faculty from serving as chair of the Executive Committee.  Otherwise, they permit committees to be structured with administrators as ex officio members and permit the election or appointment of administrators who are also Senate members to committee posts.

2. Do the bylaws of the Senate protect its authority over the curriculum, and conditions for admissions, degrees, and certificates granted by the Standing Orders of the Regents?

There is no doubt that Standing Order 105.2 (a) and (b) grant the Senate authority over these matters.  The SOR 105.2 (b) reads in part:

The Academic Senate shall authorize and supervise all courses and curricula offered under the sole or joint jurisdiction of the departments, colleges, schools, graduate divisions, or other University academic agencies approved by the Board, except that the Senate shall have no authority over courses . . .  in professional schools offering work at the graduate level only . . . No change in the curriculum of a college or professional school shall be made by the Academic Senate until such change shall have been submitted to the formal consideration of the faculty concerned.

Since the School of Veterinary Medicine does offer undergraduate courses, its curricula (graduate, professional, and undergraduate) do in fact fall under Senate authority.  The last sentence quoted above entrenches the rights of the Faculty against higher Senate bodies.  It also, we believe, implies that, even in a professional school (unlike the School of Veterinary Medicine) that did not offer undergraduate courses, the faculty retains power over its own curriculum.

Do the bylaws of the Senate protect the authority of faculty on these matters?  With the exception of the restrictions discussed in answer to question 1, the main protection is in the right of a Faculty to organize itself and the right of all of its members to participate in its elections and deliberations.

3. Is it appropriate for non-ex officio administrators to serve on committees concerned with curricular and educational programs as regular members?

With the exceptions noted in the answer to question 1 above, as long as such administrators are members of the Senate, they retain the rights of all Senate members and may within the letter of the law be elected or appointed to these committees.  CERJ believes that, while this practice is permitted, it is contrary to the spirit of shared governance and ought to be discouraged.