Campus needs more action, less talking

Our Opinion

At Wednesday’s administrative council meeting, University President Bruce Speck’s views of shared governance were a hot topic.

Recently, faculty members have expressed disagreement with Speck’s views.

Before coming to Missouri Southern, Speck penned an article refuting the definition of shared governance as presented by the American Association of University Professors and presenting his own.

Members of our staff spent hours this week analyzing Dr. Speck’s article.

Frankly, we’re not sure why it has garnered so much attention, especially now, years later.

Speck makes no bones about his disagreement with the AAUP’s stance, but doesn’t ever attack or put down faculty.

He makes a few very simple and, in our view, valid points.

First, Speck says that faculty status is commonly achieved by mastering the content of one’s particular field of study, rather than the practical application of teaching methods, effective committee work, advising students or any of the other things that any logical person would say make a good instructor.

Based on some of the professors we’ve had in our time at Southern, that sounds more true than not to us.

Speck’s next point is that faculty self-interest cannot be ignored when considering the level of shared governance that is necessary in higher education.

We’re not sure this point is made in the most effective way, but we get it.

Shared governance can’t simply mean that instructors are free to do what they want because, inevitably, someone will make a self-absorbed decision.

We don’t think anyone wants this.

Not to mention, the same can be said about administrative decision making.

This is why shared governance is important.

It should be a system of checks and balances, not a tool for anyone to lift themselves to larger-than-life proportions.

And that goes both ways.

Speck attempted to make it abundantly clear that he was addressing his article Wednesday “with the intention of promoting effective shared governance at MSSU.”

Southern has a shared governance task force, which has devised the University’s philosophy, principles and goals for shared governance.

The document that outlines these points has been presented to, and approved by, the Faculty, Staff and Student Senates, the President’s Council and the Board of Governors.

That would suggest to us that everyone is on the same page when it comes to shared governance.

 So what’s next? It’s time for everyone to stop talking about this and start living it.