Governance Committee Responds to Developments in Wisconsin

By Hans-Joerg Tiede

In February, the Committee on College and University Governance commented on statements on shared governance made by University of Wisconsin system president Ray Cross. The day after the news of a proposed merger of the system’s two- and four-year institutions was announced, President Cross, facing backlash from faculty, staff, and students, wrote the following in an email message to a system regent: “Getting hammered by the ‘shared governance’ leaders because they weren’t involved in the process; however, had they been involved we wouldn’t be doing anything!!”

The AAUP’s Committee on College and University Governance joined a growing chorus of voices denouncing Cross’s ill-judged remarks and calling on him to explain them. The committee called on the president to work actively with faculty, staff, and students on developing policies and practices that will restore a meaningful and productive system of shared governance.

The committee noted that the importance of shared governance to protecting academic freedom and quality higher education cannot be overstated, pointing to the AAUP’s Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities, which observes that “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.”

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