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Proceedings

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Abstract

Academic governance within higher education is a complex decision-making

process that creates college and university policies and actions. The interactions

between faculty senates, unions, and administrators have been explored by a number of

models, including collegial, bureaucratic, and political models, as well as senate

structures, but little data is available for private universities.

The governance process was examined at two private universities: Adelphi and

Hofstra. A semistructured interview was constructed to answer questions concerning

perceptions of the senate, faculty union, governance, leadership styles, and power

structures. Thirty participants, 15 from each university, were interviewed. Interviews

were analyzed using the constant comparative method, which allows the extraction of

themes and categories for cross-case comparisons.

The analysis showed that while half the participants perceived the senate as

traditional at both universities, participants were equally divided at Hofstra on its

effectiveness, whereas at Adelphi, there was a perception of bureaucracy and power

concentration on the part of the upper administration. At Hofstra, the majority opinion

concerning the union suggested it was strong and effective, and the relationship between

the senate and union good. Similar findings were noted at Adelphi with the exception that

the union-senate relationship had been intimate, but had begun separation since the

ouster of a recent president. While no particular governance style model was identified at

Hofstra, the observation at Adelphi was one of bureaucracy, buttressed by the finding

that most of the power resides in the administration. The perception of shared

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governance appeared to be stronger at Hofstra than Adelphi, and most participants at

Hofstra agreed the university was like a family, with its leaders focused on fundraising

and academics. By contrast, respect and listening was identified as the leadership style at

Adelphi. Despite these differences, the majority of participants at both universities

identified themselves as content.

This study suggests that administrators must understand that faculty, union, and

senate members want to be a part of the governance process, yet receive trust and respect

from the administration. A combination of collegiality, co-optation, and control appear

to have been successful in obtaining shared governance with the presence of both a union

and senate.

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