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
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
"Unions & Faculty Senates: A Cross-Case Analysis of Governance within Private Universities,"
Journal of Collective Bargaining in the Academy: Vol. 0
, Article 18.
Available at: https://thekeep.eiu.edu/jcba/vol0/iss2/18