Conflict ensues in search for university president

Unfortunately, the debate between many of Florida A&M University’s faculty and some members of its Board of Trustees over the role of FAMU’s faculty in the selection of the university’s next president has been largely unproductive.

The BOT maintains that FAMU’s faculty has been given ample opportunities to participate in the selection of the next president through its participation in the Advisory Committee.

Moreover, the BOT refuses to honor or present a resolution passed by the University’s Faculty Senate, requesting that three of its members be placed on the BOT’s Presidential Search Committee. On the other hand, many of the University’s faculty disagree because the Advisory Committee merely provides advice as its name states.

A major problem is that most members of the BOT aren’t knowledgeable of the concept and practice of shared governance.

The evidence showing that shared governance has played a crucial role in America’s most successful university presidential searches is overwhelming.

Shared governance is a collegial system of decision-making, involving trustees, administrators, faculty, students, and alumni. In this system, the faculty’s primary responsibilities are the curriculum, recruitment and retention of faculty, and the setting and maintenance of standards for student work.

Trustees are charged with setting the mission and purpose of the university. However, this responsibility is shared with the president, other administrators, faculty and alumni. In addition, the trustees have the primary role in presidential searches.

Given the faculty’s expertise in and commitment to the educational mission of the university, its primary role in presidential searches is to protect and promote the university’s educational mission.

Thus, if the faculty is prohibited from participating in a university’s search committee as is now being done at Florida A&M University, shared governance is disrespected, and a valuable, knowledgeable resource is fundamentally ignored and underutilized.

Currently, the faculty’s participation in the so-called Advisory Committee is a pitiful caricature of shared governance.

As previously noted, this committee performs an advisory function not a decision-making one.

Moreover, some of the persons identified as faculty are actually administrators not faculty, and none of these people were elected by their peers. Their selection remains a mystery.

– Reginald Beal, SBI Professor