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Confidentiality and Faculty Representation in Academic Governance

A draft statement released today (http://www.aaup.org/report/confidentiality-and-governance) by the AAUP argues that requiring faculty members to sign confidentiality agreements as a requirement to serve on university committees is in most cases inconsistent with widely accepted standards of shared governance and with the concept of serving as a representative. This argument does not apply to faculty serving on promotion and tenure committees and similar bodies, where faculty do not serve as representatives, but instead are elected to exercise their own professional judgment in interpreting and applying faculty-established criteria relevant to these areas. The argument has limited applicability to search committees for administrators.

A central recommendation of the statement, titled Confidentiality and Faculty Representation in Academic Governance, is that faculty senates should establish expectations for faculty serving as representatives that emphasize the responsibility of representatives to keep their constituents informed and to seek their opinions.

In addition, the statement argues that searches for administrators should have an open final phase, allowing individual faculty members as well as faculty committees to review the credentials of finalists, ask questions, and share opinions before a final decision is made. It has been the long-standing view of the AAUP that faculty participation in searches for administrators should reflect the extent of legitimate faculty interest in the position, with significant faculty involvement in searches for academic administrators. Conducting searches with closed final phases deprives the faculty at large of meaningful participation in the decision making process.

The draft statement was approved for publication for comment by the Association's Committee on College and University Governance. Comments are welcome and should be directed to B. Robert Kreiser at bkreiser@aaup.org.