Sunday, April 5, 2015

University governance, at Harvard

In The Chronicle of Higher Education, Charles Fried and Bob Mnookin write about the increased centralization of governance at Harvard: The Silencing of Harvard’s Professors.

They make many points, here are two:
"Today’s official mantra is One Harvard. In the last 20 years there has been a vast expansion of the central administration and an increasing degree of centralization. This is hardly a trend specific to our campus. Colleges and universities across the country both public and private are grappling with this same issue. Today at Harvard, not only is there a provost, who is the university’s “chief academic officer,” there are also a deputy provost, a senior vice provost for faculty development and diversity, three vice provosts (for research, for advances in learning, and for international affairs), a senior associate provost who is the chief technology officer, and four associate provosts for institutional research, for science, for social sciences and the professions, and for arts and culture, as well as assistant provosts — all with staffs. In addition there is a cadre of high-level administrators such as an executive vice president and senior nonacademic officials with central administrative responsibilities.

"On everybody’s return from summer vacation we were met with a ukase imposing a single set of sexual-harassment policies and procedures, and a new central bureaucracy combining under one head compliance, enforcement, investigating, and adjudicating functions for the whole university. These policies and procedures were arrived at by a working group of administrators (some of whom were drawn from the administrative staffs of the schools) and then adopted by the president and fellows. There were no law faculty members involved. When our law faculty had a good look at these procedures at a meeting with the general counsel we made it plain that we considered the procedures inconsistent with due process and if radical changes were not made it was probable that a large majority of Harvard’s law faculty would publicly denounce them. In response the university authorized the law dean to appoint a faculty redrafting committee and now there are for the law school alone disciplinary procedures worthier of a leading law faculty. Those alternative procedures were overwhelmingly approved by vote of the law faculty."

No comments: