Thursday, September 20, 2012

Faculty Governance or Faculty Capture?

I have written repeatedly and evidently unconvincingly about faculty capture of law schools. What that means is that law schools are run by the faculty for their convenience. The law school exists for ends of faculty and everything else is a means or nothing.  Think of it as police officers deciding that their only job is protect their own safety. The pecking order is like this:

1. Faculty.
2. Faculty.
3. Faculty.

You get the idea. Nothing is in second place and this includes students and others who have a stake in the school. Faculty capture represents the corruption of the broader idea of faculty governance. Nothing about faculty governance means that capture must occur. I really depends on the ability of faculty to, from time to time, do something that is not in its self interest but which makes the institution better.  Saying no to yourself is difficult but not impossible.  I was thinking of a ten question test so you can determine if your faculty has captured the law school.

1. If you have a curriculum committee, can you point to 3 times in the past ten years in which it turned down a request by a professor to offer a new course?

2. When a new course is proposed to the faculty, can you point to three times in the past ten years in which the faculty voted no?

3. Has your faculty ever voted not to approve a new program -- foreign program, specialization?

4. Has your faculty ever discontinued a program the discontinuance of which was opposed  by at least one person.

5. Are most of your courses uncapped meaning limited in enrollment only by the size of the room.

6. In faculty meetings  is reasoning like "the students like it," "other schools are doing it" or "why do you want to punish me" rejected and the person using that reasoning sent to stand in a corner.

7. Over the past ten years, have faculty reviewers of the teaching of untenured faculty been anything but glowing more than once?

8.  Over the past ten years, have internal reviews of untenured faculty scholarship been negative more than once.

9. Are machine graded multiple choice exams rare?

10. Is it rare for faculty to teach 4 credit courses over two days in order to decrease the number of days they are in the classroom?

So, how did your school do?  If you answered no 7-10 times, your faculty has completely captured the school. They run it for their welfare and nothing else. If you said no less than 4 times, you have a principled, ethical and amazing faculty.  Your students should be thankful and so should you.

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