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What Price Shared Governance?

What Price Shared Governance?

(p.97) 8 What Price Shared Governance?
Saving Alma Mater
Ernst R. Berndt
University of Chicago Press

This chapter presents a case study of Miami University to illustrate the cost of shared governance. In 2004, Miami University had 193 standing committees above the departmental level. It is found that a six-person committee meeting for two hours costs the university more than a thousand dollars. The question of value is partly a matter of relative efficiency. In academia, the question of value is muddied by the intentional symbolism of shared governance. It can be a major challenge to structure such committees so that no group feels disenfranchised. It is a common experience for those who appoint search committees to begin with aspirations of creating a small “working” committee but then to find that complaints from the campus compel them to add members. The important point is that the stated goal of finding the best candidate often succumbs to the community pressure for broad participation. These two objectives tend to be in conflict. Not only can large committees be nearly unworkable from the perspective of organizing meetings and having productive group discussions, but such committees are also frequently drawn to lowest-common-denominator candidates whose primary attribute may be the ability to present themselves as outgoing, affable, and nonthreatening to any of the represented constituencies. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the same phenomenon in case of presidential leadership

Keywords:   shared governance, decision making, public universities, college education, higher education, cost analysis, presidential leadership

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