American Association of University Professors
Academic Freedom for a Free Society
LSU - AAUP Chapter statement
on the proposed
realignment of academic units
June 3, 2009
The AAUP supports shared governance
as one of its primary missions.
Positive benefits of shared
governance. The AAUP commitment to shared governance, which entails
that the Faculty Senate, the proper governance unit of the faculty,
be included in any significant decision-making process, is not simply
a negative position, seeking only to preserve faculty rights, but is
also a positive position. Simply put, LSU is a better university when
it benefits from the enormous resource that is the collective intelligence
of the faculty.
Time constraints can make
shared governance difficult -- it is still unclear what role the current budget
crisis played in the origin and pace of the realignment plan -- but
the faculty and the LSU administrators can use various means of electronic
communication (for example, internet surveys, which are already in common
use by the administration), in combination with the existing departmental
and Faculty Senate structure, to solicit faculty input along the way
and so take advantage of both our collective expertise and our desire
For in the end, shared governance
rests on a positive outlook: shared governance will help the university
become better. Faculty members do not want to be included in decisions
in order to protect turf; we want to be included to help the administration
advance the institution to which we are devoting our careers; and by
extension we want to continue to serve the people of the state of Louisiana,
whose community project LSU is.
The proposed realignment
plan. In this context, the recent announcement by the administration
of a completed plan to reorganize the academic units at LSU is troubling
on two counts. First, no cost-benefit analysis was supplied to support
the move, so the faculty is unable to judge the plan in any meaningful
way, and second, and most troubling, the faculty was excluded in any
meaningful way from the development of the plan.
No cost-benefit analysis.
First, we note that there has been no cost-benefit analysis provided
with the plan, as would be expected for shared governance. To have the
faculty truly involved in judging this plan we need to know how much
the reorganization is going to cost to implement. We also need to see
estimates on how long it will take to break even on those costs by putative
savings and/or increased revenues. We also need to see the method by
which the cost-benefit analysis was conducted. Shared governance has
been ignored in this case, as we are not able to judge the completed
plan due to the lack of a standard cost-benefit analysis.
Lack of meaningful
faculty involvement in the development of the plan. Second, and
much more troubling, is the exclusion of meaningful faculty involvement
in the development of the plan. The Chancellor's informational memo
to the Board of Supervisors contains the following paragraph purporting
to describe the process by which the plan was developed:
We propose the following
changes to LSU's organizational structure (Tables 1 and 2). These
changes were developed in discussions with the University Planning Council,
shared with both the Faculty and Staff senates for feedback and presented
at a campus-wide forum. The Provost has met with the faculty and / or
chairs of all the affected units to elicit comments. We are available
to offer further clarity and justification as needed and look forward
to the Flagship Committee's and the Board's concurrence in what
is an internal realignment and selective renaming of several academic
This narrative raises several
- Claiming that the "changes were developed in discussions with the University Planning Council" (UPC) is no doubt true, but overlooks the fact that the UPC is not an organ of faculty governance; that task, as determined by the Board of Supervisors, is the responsibility of the Faculty Senate. The UPC is a mixed group of administrators and faculty members selected by administrators; the faculty members of the UPC serve at the pleasure of the administration and are not elected by the faculty. Furthermore, the Chair of the UPC is Provost Merget. Thus discussions behind the closed doors of the UPC cannot be held to constitute shared governance.
- Claiming that the plan was "shared" with the Faculty Senate for "feedback" is slightly misleading as it was only "shared" after the plan was fully formulated. Shared governance is meaningless unless the proper governance organ, the Faculty Senate, is involved in the development of plans.
- Claiming that the plan was "presented at a campus-wide forum" ignores the fact that it was presented as an already completed plan set to go into effect shortly.
- Claiming that the Provost has met with "affected units to elicit comments" is misleading; in one sense, every unit on campus is affected by this plan and hence the Faculty Senate, as the governance unit for the entire faculty, should have been involved in the development of the plan. Beyond that, "eliciting comments" on an already completed plan set to go into effect shortly is not consistent with shared governance.
The evasion of shared governance
continues with the so-called transition and implementation process.
The next paragraph of the Chancellor's memo reads:
The Executive Vice Chancellor
and Provost has established a participatory transition/implementation
process. Through this process, we will assess the academic and administrative
changes associated with realignment. Based on the outcomes of this process,
we will phase in realignment implementation.
There are several issues here.
First, having an administration-appointed committee is not consistent
with shared governance. The Faculty Senate is the elected faculty representatives
at LSU and should be the organ for all shared governance decisions.
Secondly, this paragraph shows that the secretly developed realignment
plan is now the default setting, so that the administration need not
justify the plan by a standard cost-benefit analysis. Finally, it seems
the only thing "participatory transition/implementation process"
can possibly affect is timing; the realignment will occur no matter
what the transition team comes up with.
In conclusion. In our
role as advocates for shared governance, we urge the Board to remember
that the Faculty Senate should have been involved in the development
of this plan from its inception and to take its exclusion from the development
of this plan into consideration when and if it ever comes to the Board
On behalf of the LSU AAUP Chapter,
John Protevi, President
Brooks B. Ellwood, Vice-President
And other members of the Executive Committee