This would appear to be the basis of the various policies at many colleges and universities on shared governance, that is, a situation in which the faculty have an active voice and actual power in making administrative decisions.
The ASUP 1966 Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities
Shared Governance – “appropriately shared responsibility and cooperative action among the components of the academic institution”
… (an excerpt from the introduction)
This statement is a call to mutual understanding regarding the government of colleges and universities. Understanding, based on community of interest and producing joint effort, is essential for at least three reasons. First, the academic institution, public or private, often has become less autonomous; buildings, research, and student tuition are supported by funds over which the college or university exercises a diminishing control. Legislative and executive governmental authorities, at all levels, play a part in the making of important decisions in academic policy. If these voices and forces are to be successfully heard and integrated, the academic institution must be in a position to meet them with its own generally unified view. Second, regard for the welfare of the institution remains important despite the mobility and interchange of scholars. Third, a college or university in which all the components are aware of their interdependence, of the usefulness of communication among themselves, and of the force of joint action will enjoy increased capacity to solve educational problems. …
From Around the Web.
From the web site, Academe Blog.
A couple of years ago, I served as chair of a committee that advocates for faculty and staff on issues related to health insurance on my campus: the Health Care Advocacy Committee. For several years, the primary issue that this committee dealt with was retiree health insurance and its effect on the university’s balance sheet because of accounting rules categorizing the benefit as an “unfunded liability.” The committee was provided with actuarial analyses, including some different scenarios for making changes to this benefit. These analyses, which contained no information about individual faculty or staff members, were provided to the committee under the condition of confidentiality. The main reason that was cited by the administration for requiring confidentiality was that, because the proposals were still in a preliminary stage of consideration, sharing them across campus could lead to faculty or staff being “overly concerned” regarding the details of a proposal that was, perhaps, not even going to be seriously considered. Because of significant pressure by the board of trustees, the plan subsequently adopted by the university completely disregarded the views expressed by members of the committee. At a subsequent faculty meeting, a faculty member asked the president of the university whether an open forum scheduled on the topic of retiree health insurance was going to provide an opportunity for faculty and staff to comment on the proposed changes. The president replied that he had already “consulted” with the relevant committees, so the purpose of the open forums was simply to inform. I distinctly remember my colleague protesting that it was illegitimate to claim that there had been faculty consultation, given that the information provided to the committee had been provided under the condition of confidentiality, thus preventing the faculty representatives to the committee from consulting with their constituents.
This exchange caused me to reconsider my position on confidentiality. While I had previously believed that confidentiality was an acceptable concession in order to get “a seat at the table,” I am convinced now that we must resist confidentiality mandates because they undermine shared governance. I want to argue here that it is impossible to conduct shared governance within any kind any confidentiality framework. An exception to this claim is of course governance work concerned with personnel issues. However, a clear-cut distinction can be made that justifies under what conditions confidentiality should apply, based on whether or not faculty members serve as representatives of the faculty. This distinction is grounded in the AAUP’s various statements on the participation of faculty in the governance of colleges and universities.