05 Dec Shared Governance is Your Right! What Shared Governance Should Look Like
- Shared governance is a pillar of our university’s policy-making processes, but to fully benefit, you need to exercise your rights!
- Each academic unit should have clear, accessible bylaws, and an elected Advisory or Executive Committee, so that faculty can participate in the governance of their work
- UICUF Staff are available to work with members on understanding and applying shared governance rights in your units. Contact UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com if interested.
Shared governance is one of academia’s most cherished principles, giving faculty a voice in decision-making at all levels of the university. It is also one of UIC United Faculty’s core commitments as a union to make the promise of shared governance a reality by backing it with the power of collective bargaining. We’ve delivered on that commitment by enshrining many shared governance principles in our union contract, ensuring that your rights are enforceable.
To get the full benefit out of shared governance, however, faculty need to understand their rights in the university’s decision-making processes, and work to develop a culture of engagement in those processes. Today, we’re exploring how shared governance at the unit level should function, based on the UICUF contract and university statutes.
Clear and Accessible Bylaws
Unit bylaws can have a significant effect on how your work is defined, and how you are treated as an educator, researcher, and employee in your academic unit. These bylaws should be clearly written, and readily accessible to you. Your unit head or office administrator should be able to help you get a copy of them.
We strongly recommend familiarizing yourself with your unit bylaws, or at least having a copy handy. Bylaws typically will describe how a unit’s shared governance structure works, and per our union contract, they must include certain explanations and definitions, such as workload expectations and reappointment processes for NTT faculty. These explanations and definitions, in turn, must be created with input from faculty via shared governance.
Executive and Advisory Committees
Every unit must have either an Executive Committee (if your academic unit has a Chair) or an Advisory Committee (if your academic unit has a Head or Director). These committees are the backbone of shared governance for faculty at the unit level. They must be elected by faculty, and should be consulted by unit executive officers on changes to bylaws and the development of other policies. In particular, units must develop certain standards in consultation with these committees. Having a functional shared governance infrastructure, in which faculty regularly participate, is critical to ensuring your rights are enforced.
UICUF Shared Governance Workshops
Educating faculty members on their rights plays an important role in how UICUF enforces our union contract. To that end, we are continually offering trainings and workshops to help faculty better understand their contractual rights, and to help each academic unit address issues specific to their situation. UICUF staff are available to help you understand how shared governance should work, and to assist you in improving these processes for your academic unit.
If you have questions about how to obtain your unit bylaws, whether your bylaws and committees meet contractual requirements, or would like to arrange a discussion about shared governance with a union representative, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.
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