AAUP Releases Statement on Confidentiality in Academic Governance

By Hans-Joerg Tiede

A draft statement released in November by the AAUP argues that requiring faculty members to sign confidentiality agreements as a condition of serving on university committees is in most cases inconsistent with widely accepted standards of shared governance and with the concept of serving as a faculty representative. This argument does not apply to those serving on promotion and tenure committees and similar bodies, where faculty members do not serve as representatives but instead are elected to exercise their own professional judgment in interpreting and applying relevant criteria. The statement also addresses confidentiality in searches for administrators.

A central recommendation of the statement, titled Confidentiality and Faculty Representation in Academic Governance, is that faculty senates should emphasize the responsibility of faculty 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 and has been published on the AAUP’s website at http://www.aaup.org/report/confidentiality-and-governance. . 

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