Skip to Content

Faculty Governance in Higher Education

Faculty members in higher education should have primary responsibility to:

  1. Determine the curriculum, subject matter, methods of instruction, and other academic standards and processes.
  2. Establish the requirements for earning degrees and certificates, and authorize the administration and governing board to grant same.
  3. Exercise, where the faculty deems it appropriate, primary responsibility for determining the status of colleagues, especially appointment, reappointment, and tenure.
  4. Establish procedures for awarding promotions, sabbaticals, research support, and other rewards or perquisites.

If, for any reason, the administrations and the governing boards of colleges and universities should fail to accept the faculty's recommendations in these areas, the faculty should have the right to appeal a decision it considers flawed by improper rationale or procedure.

In this capacity faculty bodies are essentially making collective recommendations to the administration and governing board on academic standards and policy, and on faculty status matters. Such governance activity is a regular part of a faculty member's professional duties and should not be construed to confer managerial or supervisory status, notwithstanding the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the "Yeshiva" case (1980).

Through collective bargaining and other governance procedures, faculty members and academic staff should also participate in:

  1. Determining policies and procedures governing salary structure, pay increases, and fringe benefit programs.
  2. Selecting and evaluating administrators.
  3. Reviewing the institution's budget; making recommendations on financial issues with implications for the academic program, in the short- and long-term.

NEA recognizes that faculty and staff participation in institutional government may take many forms. Although certain similarities among colleges exist, there is no one type of governance system appropriate for all. The form of governance adopted should therefore reflect substantially the desires of the faculty and academic staff as conditioned by state statute. A decision to adopt collective bargaining as a primary or additional method of participating in institutional governance should be considered an enhancement of academic quality and the status of the institution.

NEA affirms that institutional governance is a joint effort among several parties: faculty, academic staff, administrators, and the governing board. This relationship should be based on collegiality and mutual respect. It is understood that collective bargaining is a form of legally mandated collegiality that ensures the integrity of this joint effort.

State and federal government and external agencies should refrain from intervening in the internal governance of institutions of higher education when they are functioning in accordance with state and federal law. Government should recognize that conserving the autonomy of these institutions is essential to protecting academic freedom, the advance of knowledge, and the pursuit of truth.