IMPROVING MANAGEMENT BOARDS, CONNECTING MANAGEMENT BOARD WITH FACULTY
Whereas the citizens of Louisiana have established universities as repositories of expertise—as resources for the teaching of our people, for the betterment of our life, for the advancement of our economy, and for the discovery of truth and knowledge;
Whereas Louisiana universities, per their mission statements, jointly cover a very wide range of disciplines and professional pursuits, from health care delivery to music history to astrophysics, and more;
Whereas the leadership of institutions that are dedicated to the cultivation of expertise requires familiarity with the culture and expertise of those whose profession is the production and dissemination of knowledge;
Whereas the management Boards of public institutions—the Boards of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System; the LSU System; the Southern University System; and the Louisiana Community and Technical Colleges System along with the State Board of Regents—are the appointed deputies of the Governor of Louisiana, regulating higher education on behalf of the State executive branch;
Whereas the membership of these five Boards is overwhelmingly comprised of persons drawn from a very small range of professions and vocations, most notably business, finance, and law, and whereas those few—no more than half-dozen—Board members with experience in education are former administrators rather than rank-and-file faculty members who belong to only two of the five Boards, those of Southern University and the LCTCS;
Whereas a much greater level of vocational, ideological, and socioeconomic diversity characterizes the governing Boards of Louisiana’s independent and religion-affiliated colleges and universities, which include in their membership architects, activists and social reformers, restaurateurs, artists, priests, and medical personnel, to name but a few of the participating professions;
Whereas a greater level of vocational diversity is also found among the management Boards of those prestigious institutions that routinely outrank Louisiana universities according to assorted metrics and rating services;1
Whereas, although the contributions of all Board members are highly valued, a Board that is dominated by one profession or cluster of professions lacks the breadth of expertise needed to served the expansive interests of higher education—a problem noted by prominent commentators writing for accoladed publications who have drawn attention to the potential conflict of interest between business-dominated Boards and the university mandate to probe, critique, and transform the status quo;
Whereas the thousands of faculty members of Louisiana colleges and universities possess an enormous but largely untapped treasury of disciplinary and educational knowledge as well as front-line experience in Louisiana higher education;
Whereas faculty members have made repeated attempts to establish channels of communication with both the management Boards and the executive branch of Louisiana government, whether through two meetings with the Governor’s Chief of Staff or whether through forums conducted under the aegis of ALFS (the Association of Louisiana Faculty Senates) or whether through testimony before legislative committees or whether through an assortment of personal contacts;
Whereas Louisiana’s higher education management Boards enfranchise student members but not faculty members;
Whereas the neglect of faculty advice and the unfamiliarity of management Boards with academic standards and practices have led Louisiana into the ignominious position of leading the nation both in total number of AAUP censures and the rate at which AAUP censures are imposed;
Therefore be it resolved that the Louisiana Conference of the American Association of University Professors [in partnership with the Association of Louisiana Faculty Senates] asks Governor John Bel Edwards to conduct a review of the qualifications required for appointment to any of Louisiana’s higher education;
Therefore be it resolved that the Louisiana AAUP [and ALFS] encourage[s] Governor Edwards to include experiential, vocational, and educational diversity as a criterion for appointment to management Boards;
Therefore be it further resolved that the Louisiana AAUP [and ALFS] ask[s] Governor Edwards to create formal channels for regular input to state higher education officials from Louisiana college and university faculty members;
Therefore be it further resolved that the Louisiana AAUP [and ALFS] ask[s] Governor Edwards to take the necessary steps, including legislative action if required, to include Louisiana faculty members on Louisiana higher education management Boards.
And therefore be it further resolved that the Louisiana State Conference of the AAUP will appoint a committee to introduce this resolution to Governor Edwards, either by preparing a suitable cover letter or arranging for direct delivery.
1.For example, the University of California Board includes professionals and experts in public policy, motion picture arts, education, philanthropy, and talent management; the University of Michigan Board includes members versed in communications and politics and in practical medicine (dermatology); and the University of Massachusetts Board includes a dazzling array of experts, including those skilled in medicine, political science, criminal justice, higher education (as a branch of the study of education), sociology, and more.