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Faculty Chair: The Role of Faculty Governance
Editor's Note: Law Professor Paul Haagen, chair of the Academic Council, delivered the following talk at the annual meeting of the faculty Oct. 19. To read President Richard H. Brodhead's address to the faculty, click here.
Durham, NC - Colleagues, it is my great honor to address you all today on behalf of the Academic Council and the more than 2,500 members of the faculty of Duke University. It is also, I recently discovered, my statutory responsibility. The University and Council by-laws are in general woefully, or mercifully, vague about my duties as Chair of the Academic Council. The one point on which they are not vague is that the Chair is required to appear before you once a year and to give an accounting for the activities of the Council over the past year, and a prediction about our collective work for the year to come.
Despite my documented deficiencies as an accountant, I can assure you that unlike the Federal government, we are in the black.
This has been by many measures a remarkably successful year for Duke, that follows on a remarkably successful decade at Duke. This is now a stronger institution than it was in even the recent past. One of the easiest ways to measure that growing strength is to look at our resources. Thanks to the generosity of friends and alumni of this institution, and the extraordinarily successful management of those resources by the administration and Board, this University is now in a position to turn Terry Sanford's "outrageous ambition" for Duke into a realistic ambition for leadership in higher education and research.
Realizing that dream has taken and will continue to take an extraordinary amount of hard work and serious thought. Because of the now well established and effective traditions of shared governance at this University, this body, both directly and through its committees, is and will be an integral part in that effort and thought.
Since I last gave this annual address a year ago, the Council approved changes in the names of three departments to better reflect their broadening intellectual missions and ambitions. The Council debated and approved the merger of the two Psychology Departments into a single department of Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, more effectively to integrate the behavioral and social sciences with the brain and health sciences at Duke. The Council debated an approved a new degree program, the Th.D., in the Divinity School. The Council debated and approved protocols for the consideration and approval of joint degree programs with other institutions, both domestic and international. The Council considered the Faculty Diversity Initiative, Expansion of Tenure Clock Relief Policy, and the Duke Faculty Survey. The Council heard and considered interpretations of the Intellectual Property Policy and clarifications related to voting on the appointment and promotion of non-tenure track faculty.
In planning for and shaping the future of Duke University, the Council considered and enthusiastically endorsed the ambitious Strategic Plan, began consideration of the equally ambitious and evolving plans for Central Campus, and approved exploration of the transformation of the Sanford Institute into Duke's newest school.
In addition to the work of the full Council, faculty committees have done, among many other things, the work of reviewing numerous departments, the finances of the Athletic Department and the Graduate School, and the structure of employee health plans.
Beginning in March of this past year, the Council, the faculty and the University faced a very different kind of challenge arising out of the criminal allegations directed at members of the Duke men's lacrosse team, the subsequent indictment of three members of that team and the intense media coverage that has followed in its wake. Two standing faculty committees, charged in one case by ECAC and in the other jointly charged by the President and ECAC, played a critical role in shaping the University's initial response to those events under very difficult conditions. That the apparatus of faculty governance was in place and available was extremely important in getting Duke through those months as successfully as it did.
The events of last spring also created both the impetus and responsibility for Duke to re-examine a variety of issues related to the social and educational environment at this institution. That re-examination has been begun by the Campus Culture Initiative Committee, which should report its findings and recommendations in the spring.
What do I see as the other substantive challenges for this year? Some of these are clear, because they are already in process. First will be the continued planning for Central Campus. Duke may be alone among American research universities in the opportunity presented by that physical space. Taking optimal advantage of that opportunity will take vision and sustained effort. We anticipate working with both Provost Lange and Executive Vice President Trask to integrate the views and expertise of the faculty into the planning process. This week ECAC created an ad hoc Committee on the Design of Central Campus to facilitate a part of that effort. Second, Duke as an institution has committed itself to becoming a place able to take advantage of the talents of a diverse, and we hope and anticipate an increasingly diverse, work force and student body. Duke has already in important ways established itself as leader in this area, and the Council will seek to insure that we think creatively in the effort to meet that commitment. Third, we will continue to monitor and assist in the development of Duke's international programs and initiatives. The Academic Programs Committee has already heard an initial presentation about the very ambitious plans for a joint degree program in medicine with the National University of Singapore, and begun the review of the Fuqua School's plans for a degree in Master of Management Studies in collaboration with Seoul National University. The Law School's proposed dual degree program in global business law, the JD/DESS (Diplome d'etudes superieures specialisees), with the University of Paris and Sciences Po, has already gone through the APC process and will be brought to the Council. Fourth, we can expect to take up a variety of issues related to intercollegiate athletics in a continuing effort to insure that they play a role appropriate to our institutional goals, traditions and aspirations. Fifth, I expect that we will begin the complex consideration of the financing and structure of graduate education at Duke. We can expect that there will be others that like greatness may be thrust upon us, but what those are only the fullness of time will reveal.
For me, one measure of the dynamism of Duke during this past year is the relatively small amount of faculty and Council time available to discuss parking. I do not expect to be able to avoid the topic for a second year.
I reported last year that the level of cooperation and openness from the administration was both high and getting even higher. I can report that over the course of this past year that pattern has continued. There has been, in particular, increasingly successful interaction with the Medical School. This represents a change and one that we should celebrate. There are, and inevitably will remain, critical points of difference on many issues. Even with good will, figuring out how and when to consult with whom remain difficult challenges. The goodwill and spirit of cooperation are, however, real.
For both administrators dealing with the many complex issues that confront a dynamic, ambitious research university at the beginning of the 21st century, and for faculty asked to take up the burdens of shared governance, there is an understandable temptation to look for alternatives to full consultation with the faculty. It is an understandable temptation that would find support in the increasingly strident attacks that have been directed at the tradition of faculty governance in American higher education. A variety of commentators have tried to analogize such traditions to the estates general in ancien regime Europe, jealously protecting the privileges of an entrenched and fossilized aristocracy the face of social change and a desperate need for reform.
That has not been our experience at Duke. Rather, our experience has been one in which the increased social trust engendered by shared governance has made change more feasible. As a recent study by Bo Rothstein and Eric Uslaner shows, social trust varies dramatically from society to society. Where it is high, institutions operate more efficiently and openly, people are happier and more optimistic about their lives and more willing to take on the common burdens of the society. Maintaining that social trust is never easy. For important parts of this community, the levels of trust were never deep and were damaged in various ways by the events of this spring. For others, faith in process has and will continue to be tested by the realization that change and dynamism may lead to their ox being gored or their interest traded off.
Trust may get us only so far.
Lenin is alleged to have said: "Vertrauen is gut, Kontrolle is besser." Trust is good, control is better. In this post-Enron, Sarbanes-Oxley world that we now all inhabit, we can expect that the impetus to control, growing out of a weakening of social trust, will affect our lives in a variety of ways. There will be more governmental oversight. In the world of the new media, there will be more questions raised about our handling of our resources or our commitments to values. As the model of education as a consumer good continues to gain purchase among large segments of the American population, there will be increasing attempts to interfere with the way we teach and conduct our research. Within our own Duke community, there will be many good reasons to get in each others' ways in the interest of controlling matters where trust has been frayed.
But control carries with it great costs. It did not work out all that well for the economy of Lenin's Soviet Union. When the British Parliament enacted the Declaratory Act in 1766 asserting that it "had, hath, and of right ought to have, full power and authority to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to bind the colonies and people of America, subjects of the crown of Great Britain, in all cases whatsoever," the assertion of control left the American colonists with only trust in Parliament to rely on. In so doing destroyed the trust that made the Empire possible. Kontrolle is not always besser.
It is my hope that with your guidance and wisdom we collectively with be able to balance trust and control, that we can foster a culture that engenders trust across our community and renders controls both less necessary and, when necessary, causes them to sit less heavily. If we succeed, even partially, this should be an exciting and productive year.
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