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The Business of Academia

  The Business of AcademiaHappy New Year! We are starting off 2004 with an edition about shared governance in academia. Are administration and faculty on the same page when it comes to shared governance and trust? What about historically Black colleges and universities versus traditionally White institutions?
Assistant editor Kendra Hamilton takes a look at Dr. James T. Minor’s study on this very issue and finds sharply different perceptions about such institutional values. Higher education officials weigh in on the study, and most agree that the issue of shared governance means different things to different people. For example, HBCUs and TWIs tend to have somewhat different styles in terms of leadership, although some scholars disagree on that observation.
Dr. M. Christopher Brown of the Frederick Patterson Research Institute says the academic community acts as though they are exempt from following some of the same rules that apply in the corporate sector and military when it comes to the idea of “shared governance.”
“In an era where the public is calling for more accountability, where legislatures are enacting laws and the culture is saying ‘we want business principles in operation in all our institutions,’ we’re saying (in academia) ‘we’re exempt.’ No one does this kind of study at IBM and says, ‘No you don’t have to listen to your boss,’ ” Brown says. “In the military, insubordination will get you court-martialed, but in the university we protest in the name of shared governance. If anyone in Congress tries to exert his will contrary to the will of the people who elected him, he will quickly be out of there. But in academia we say, ‘it’s a matter of academic freedom and you are exempt,’ ” Brown says.
Speaking of leadership and leadership styles, and the impact that can have on a school’s operating success, some colleges and universities received good news prior to the holidays from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Grambling University, Talladega and Bennett colleges were removed from probation. In each of the cases, the schools’ leadership played an active role in improving their respective school’s standing with the accrediting agency. Unfortunately, however, SACS placed three more HBCUs on probation as well. Tracie Powell’s article “Surviving Tough Times” addresses some of these issues and looks at HBCUs such as Clark Atlanta University, Morris Brown College and others that have had to tighten up and streamline operations to become more financially stable.
In the admissions arena, despite the Supreme Court’s ruling on the University of Michigan cases, Texas A&M University has decided that they will not take race into account in admissions decisions; Berkeley is in the news again regarding its own admissions policy and the chairman of the board of regents; and the NAACP in Florida has been given the green light by the state’s Supreme Court to challenge the One Florida initiative, which eliminated racial and gender preferences in university admissions.
There are no big landmark cases on the horizon as was the case this time last year as the higher education community geared up for the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the Michigan cases. However, it is clear that on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, colleges and universities are still trying to figure out how and whether race should be considered when admitting students.  Hilary Hurd Anyaso

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