volume 40, number 4
Temple UniversityFaculty Herald

Faculty Governance at Temple...Reality or Myth?
Jim Korsh, Professor of Computer and Information Sciences, CST

Jim Korsh,

Professor of Computer and Information Sciences, CST

It was magical like a time machine – visiting the Paley Library archives in search of a dimly remembered report that I had written for the January 1977 Faculty Herald as the 3rd CASBA chair.


CASBA, the Collegial Assembly of the School of Business Administration, came into existence during the 1974/75 academic year. Early in that report was the observation, “The CASBA has achieved its main aim of providing a viable forum for faculty to express their views, formulate policies and opinions, and vigorously attempt to implement them. In addition, CASBA has responsibility for nominating, electing, and administering all major SBA committees. These include: Undergraduate and Graduate Affairs, Promotion and Tenure, Merit and Inequities, Budget and Planning, and Research.” This is a far cry from the way in which many, perhaps all, Collegial Assemblies function today.


While looking for that report, another article caught my eye from the March 1974 Herald. This letter to all full-time faculty noted that it had been five years since schools were empowered to form Collegial Assemblies, and asked that schools who hadn’t done so to now establish them, and recommended procedures for expeditiously doing this.


An important footnote referred to the Faculty Senate Constitution, Article III, No. 2b, adopted by the Faculty Senate in February of 1969 and approved by the Board of Trustees that May. The article stated: Each school of the University shall have its own Collegial Assembly with its own presiding officer, executive and standing committees, with regular meetings and such rules and procedures as it may deem necessary. Each Collegial Assembly shall determine its own membership provided that all University Senators shall be members thereof.


In my view, the CASBA served as a true democratically functioning institution for many years. Since my department, which started in SBA, was subsequently moved to three other colleges at Temple, I can also attest to other Collegial Assemblies having operated quite differently  than they do today. 


Why has this change happened?  The primary reason is that the “rules and procedures” of Collegial Assemblies were originally determined exclusively and entirely by the faculty. This changed when the previous administration insisted that new Collegial Assembly By-Laws be written and that they conform to specific constraints - which effectively limited the voice of faculty and the role of faculty governance.


Soon, Collegial Assembly By-Laws should be undergoing review in all colleges, and the Provost’s office is working on the baseline By-Laws should meet. It is hoped and expected that these will be considerably more faculty governance friendly than the current version.


However, in my view, real faculty governance means it is the faculty who determine the By-Laws – as we did during the 1970s.  In fact, unless this is the case, I suggest faculty do not actually have real faculty governance.


Of course, faculty governance has two components – a means by which faculty can find their voice and a willingness for the administration to seriously listen to that voice.


As stated in Article II, No. 3 of the Faculty Senate Constitution: The Faculty Senate shall have the responsibility and right, by the exercise of one or more of its powers, to advise the administration and the Board of Trustees on all matters of University policy, on all matters affecting the relations of the faculty of the University, and on all other matters of policy and administrative decision-making in which the faculty claims a reasonable advisement either through consultation or review and either at the initiation of the administration or at its own recognizance. The Senate, through the process of recommendation, may initiate advice to the administration and Board of Trustees on any matter of policy, decision and program.


Just as the Faculty Senate has the responsibility for considering issues involving the entire University, so should Collegial Assemblies have this responsibility at the college level.                                                                                                                                  


For quite some time, the faculty has been remiss in fulfilling its responsibility either by not adequately attending Senate or Assembly meetings or by not considering important issues. The February Faculty Herald alludes to these failings in the comments of the Herald’s editor on Senate attendance and in the two letters to the editor that concern the administration’s recent emphasis on research, the kinds of faculty the administration chooses to hire, the degree to which undergraduate education is being properly supported, and budgetary concerns. As examples, the shift to enhance the University’s research profile and the upward trend in NTT and adjunct hiring have never been seriously brought to the Senate by the administration for consideration. Nor has the Senate exercised its responsibility to consider such matters. This must change if faculty governance is to be a reality here.


It is very significant that our current administration does appear to want to be the needed partner in achieving real faculty governance. It is incumbent on the President and Provost to actively encourage the development of real faculty governance in our colleges by insuring that Deans pursue such a partnership as well.  Once the faculty sees that they really have a voice in decision making they will be motivated to participate.


The faculty must also do its part. This means supporting the Senate and Collegial Assemblies, and creating Collegial Assembly By-Laws that foster faculty governance. It is now almost four years since the current administration has been at Temple’s helm – and it is time for it to unshackle the Collegial Assemblies!