Shared Governance and the UVU "White Paper"

13 September 2011

The “White Paper” charges the Academic Affairs Council with reviewing and prioritizing new degrees, emphases, and minors. In addition, it states the following:

A proposal for an Academic Program Review Committee will be developed in collaboration with the VPAA, Academic Affairs Council and Faculty Senate. This committee should establish data-driven criteria for the review of current degree offerings. In determining the criteria, the committee should build off of the criteria for new programs developed by the Academic Affairs Council. A program review process should yield recommendations regarding the status and ongoing viability of current degrees. These recommendations would be reviewed and approved by the VPAA and respective dean and then be implemented accordingly. The Associate Vice President of Academic Programs will play an active role in the review process.

The UVU Chapter of the AAUP has traditionally deferred to the Faculty senate in issues of shared governance, stepping in only to question specific cases of failed shared governance or infringements of academic freedom.

In this case, we wish to suggest that it is the faculty’s role to establish curriculum and that part of the curriculum process involves the development of new degrees. Depending on the makeup of an Academic Program Review Committee and depending on the role of the Faculty Senate in such a committee, this proposal may or may not further the kind of shared governance that is critical for a healthy institution.

Scott Abbott
President of the UVU Chapter of the AAUP


  1. I agree with your statement. It's late, but I would perhaps attack the notion of "data‑driven": many very high‑quality Liberal Education degrees would not be in very high demand but might contribute greatly to the academic fiber of the campus.

    Most of the degrees in the IDST area probably fit into this category. And even my own area‑‑Philosophy.

    The Faculty perspective in the decision process would bring this up, probably.

    David R. Keller, Ph.D.
    Professor of Philosophy
    Director, Center for the Study of Ethics
    Utah Valley University

  2. Good that you bring this up, Scott. It seems to me that it would be appropriate to end with a stronger statement that "plans for the Academic Program Review Committee must explicitly provide for faculty governance of the curriculum and appropriate faculty input in consideration of new degrees."
    Bill Evenson

  3. I agree with Bill that a stronger statement may be in order asserting that the curriculum, including degrees, are and should be the prerogative of the faculty. This is not only tradition, but I believe this is supported by policies, accreditation statements, and legal precedent.
    Bob Robbins

  4. There are a couple of potential problems with the White Paper. Like David I have some problems with "data‑driven" but possibly for a different reason. Data‑driven seems to be the new in phrase, seemingly scientific and full of meaning but in fact quite ambiguous and in practical usage anything but scientific. Indeed, the phrase "data driven" like the similar phrase "cost benefit analysis" has come to mean in practice a narrowing of perspectives to a few easily countable items that either consciously or unconsciously skew to a conclusion privileging a corporate or money driven (and hence easily countable) perspective. In the academy this translates to courses that are 1. popular with students and 2. directly and simplistically applicable to the immediate workplace. We favor narrow technocratic solutions over educating.

    The problem with this is it does not address long‑run needs or needs or benefits that are not easily placed in bean‑counting mode. I have long been struck by the fact that philosophy majors do better in law school on average than any other major. Yet, philosophy is not sold by us as a practical major. Why is this? Why do we say that computer science is practical and job related and philosophy is not?

    We, the faculty are part of the problem. We have failed to adequately make the case for education for the long haul, educating the whole person living out an entire life. This is not good for the individual, it is not good for the university and not good for society.

    We not only need to keep degrees and courses within faculty purview, we also need to do a better job of demonstrating why a liberal education (and I use this broadly to include the sciences, social sciences, etc.) is among the most practical and useful of degrees. And, I would fight any attempt to make the process overly data driven unless I had a very clear idea of what was being counted, how it was to be assessed and what perspectives were embedded in the data. I am not a Luddite and I am not against data or data analysis. But I am against the subterfuge that often attends a data drive process. As the cliche goes, "the devil is in the details" and with data the devil is often well‑hidden and well‑disguised.

    Alan Clarke

  5. Re: Alan's insightful comments, excerpt below op-ed piece by U of U Prof Norm Jones and assistant commissioner Phyllis (Teddy) Safman in 26 Aug 2011 SLTrb (link below): "Profs 'subversive' to old ways of teaching"

    ".... The real"subversion" comes in economic models which put inexperienced professors into classrooms because they are the least expensive. We have dedicated teachers, but the importance of their work is ignored by measuring effectiveness in numbers of bodies processed instead of learning quality." ....

    Bob Robbins


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