VIA FACSIMILE (630-858-2869)
March 18, 2009
Dr. Robert L. Breuder
College of DuPage
425 Fawell Boulevard
Glen Ellyn, Illinois 60137-6599
Mr. Micheal E. McKinnon
Chair, Board of Trustees
College of DuPage
425 Fawell Boulevard
Glen Ellyn, Illinois 60137-6599
Dear President Breuder and Chair McKinnon:
The leadership of the Faculty Association and other members of the faculty at the College of DuPage have sought the advice and assistance of the American Association of University Professors as a result of a series of actions that the administration and board of trustees have reportedly taken over the past year or so. These actions appear to us to raise important issues relating to the role of the faculty in the governance of the institution. Of immediate concern is the proposed new policy manual, extensively revised with no faculty involvement, that is being considered for adoption by the board at its meeting tomorrow. Faculty members have expressed their concern about the trustees’ apparent failure to follow the college’s well-established and board-endorsed collaborative processes of shared governance (set forth in Policy and Procedure 1001) for revising the manual. In addition, they have complained about potential threats to principles of academic freedom contained in some of the proposed revisions of the manual. We are aware of-and commend to your attention-the analysis of these specific provisions that has already been communicated to the administration and the board by the state council of the AAUP’s Illinois Conference.
The Association’s interest in these matters stems from our longstanding commitment to sound academic governance, the principles of which are enunciated in the enclosed Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities, originally formulated in conjunction with the American Council on Education and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. The AAUP adopted the document as policy, and the other two organizations commended it to the attention of their respective constituents. The Statement on Government, which embodies standards widely accepted in American higher education, rests on the premise that appropriately shared responsibility and cooperative action are required between and among the governing board, the administration, and the faculty in determining educational policy and in resolving educational problems within the academic institution. It refers to “an inescapable interdependence” in this relationship which requires “adequate communication among these components, and full opportunity for appropriate joint planning and effort.” It further asserts that “the interests of all are coordinate and related, and unilateral effort can lead to confusion or conflict.”
Section 5 of the Statement on Government defines the particular role of the faculty in institutional government, stating in pertinent part:
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 communi-cated 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.
The particular authority and primary responsibility of the faculty in the decision-making processes of the academic institution in these areas derive from its special competence in the educational sphere. It follows from this proposition that the faculty should play an active and meaningful role in the development as well as in the revision of institutional policies in those areas in which the faculty has primary responsibility. Moreover, under the Statement on Government “the governing board and president should, . . . in [all] matters where the faculty has primary responsibility, concur with the faculty judgment except in rare instances and for compelling reasons which should be stated in detail.”
According to the information we have received, relations between the faculty on the one hand and the COD board of trustees on the other have been marked in recent years by turmoil and growing mistrust. Faculty members report that they have frequently been at loggerheads with the board over various academic policy and governance issues, and they object to what they perceive to be a lack of meaningful consultation with the faculty on key educational policy matters where the Statement on Government calls for the faculty, because of its particular knowledge and expertise, to have primary responsibility. They have complained about what they have described as a pattern of board indifference toward or disregard for the legitimate role of the faculty in institutional decision making and a lack of sensitivity to faculty needs and concerns. They contend that the board of trustees has been unresponsive both to complaints they have made over an erosion of faculty rights and to their efforts to secure the board’s assistance in recognizing the faculty’s proper position in the college’s governance structure. These concerns have culminated in their strong objections to the proposed revisions of the policy manual.
If, as we hope is the case, the administration and governing board of the College of DuPage wish to address the faculty’s concerns and reestablish the sense of community and mutual trust that seems to have eroded in the past year and that is vital for any college to be able to fulfill its mission, we believe that they need to develop and sustain a more constructive working relationship with the faculty. From everything we have seen, the faculty seems eager to work with you, but it needs to be assured that it will be afforded an appropriate role in the significant decision-making processes affecting the future health of the institution, as expressly called for in the Statement on Government. In our judgment, if the board were to heed the faculty’s call to delay adoption of the proposed new manual to allow for necessary consultation, it would send a strong and positive signal.
We appreciate that the information in our possession on which this letter is based has come to us almost entirely from faculty sources at the College of DuPage and that you may have additional information that would contribute to our understanding of the events we have recounted and the issues with which we are concerned. We would accordingly welcome your comments. Assuming the essential accuracy of the foregoing, we hope and expect that the COD board of trustees will address the faculty’s concerns and do so in a manner that is respectful of the principles of shared authority and collegial responsibility as well as the principles of academic freedom that we along with our colleagues on the state council of the AAUP’s Illinois Conference have commended to your attention.
B. Robert Kreiser
cc: Members of the College of DuPage Board of Trustees [via e-mail]
Professor Nancy Stanko, President, College of DuPage Faculty Association
Professor Walter J. Kendall III, President, Illinois Conference AAUP
Professor Larry G. Gerber, Chair, AAUP Committee on College and University Governance