NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ867304
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0190-2946
Faculty Governance and Special-Interest Centers
Burgan, Mary
Academe, v95 n6 p15-19 Nov-Dec 2009
In the past decade or so, the practice of faculty governance has become increasingly vexed by the proliferation of special-interest research and teaching centers sponsored by outside benefactors who expect to be involved in the content and management of programs they pay for. University administrations, strapped for resources and hungry for fame, have found it difficult to turn down any offer of support for teaching and research, even if it comes with ideological mandates. In the current era of budgetary stringency, it is more important than ever for faculty to be alert to ventures that threaten to unbalance core budgetary priorities and erode academic freedom. Although the AAUP has issued thoughtful guidelines on the need for faculty oversight in the context of outside funding in academe, it has not yet commented extensively on the governance issues involved in the establishment of special-interest centers there. The strategy of establishing centers to redress a purported blindness to neglected areas of study or a supposed resistance to oppositional ideas is not a new development in higher education; indeed, it has been the basis for the creation of a number of respected academic centers. Since the late 1940s, many new programs, created through faculty approval and ongoing faculty governance, have enriched research and teaching by opening up neglected areas and new methodologies for study. As a matter of fact, the spirit of interdisciplinarity has become a hallmark of the contemporary academy, giving rise to programs and departments everywhere. Such interdisciplinary programs have been controversial at times, but when they have been administered carefully and with ample faculty participation, they have become integral parts of many institutions. Nevertheless, even such established programs may pose problems for faculty governance. For example, the locus of tenure for faculty is a besetting issue for almost every interdisciplinary center discussed in this essay--traditional or newly established. There is also the continuing problem of funding over the long term. Programs may be initiated with the promise of continuing resources, but all too often the funding priorities of foundations shift, private benefactions prove to be inadequate, or the promised money is never raised. The program then becomes anomalous, and the campus that hosts it is left holding the bag. In pointing to these and other problems for governance in special-interest programs, this article offers a survey of their varieties in the current academy. (Contains 1 note.)
American Association of University Professors. 1012 Fourteenth Street NW Suite 500, Washington, DC 20005. Tel: 800-424-2973; Tel: 202-737-5900; Fax: 202-737-5526; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A