The Harvard Corporation Tries to Kill Faculty Governance

The Harvard Corporation, the university’s governing body, has been accused of attempting to undermine faculty governance. This move has sparked concern among academics and raised questions about the future of shared governance at one of the world’s most prestigious institutions.

At the heart of the issue is a proposed change to the rules governing the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS). The Harvard Corporation has proposed a measure that would give the Corporation the power to approve or reject FAS votes on academic matters. This change would significantly shift the balance of power away from the faculty and towards the Corporation.

Critics argue that this move threatens the principle of shared governance, which holds that faculty should have a meaningful role in decision-making about academic affairs. They contend that giving the Corporation veto power over faculty votes would undermine the autonomy of the FAS and could lead to decisions being made without sufficient input from those most directly affected.

The proposal has sparked widespread opposition among the Harvard faculty. In a vote by the FAS, a large majority of professors rejected the Corporation’s proposal and affirmed the importance of faculty governance. Despite this, the Corporation has indicated that it may proceed with the change regardless.

The dispute highlights a broader trend of centralization of power at universities. As institutions face increasing pressure from external forces, there is a growing tendency for governing bodies to consolidate control and limit the role of faculty in decision-making. This raises important questions about the future of academic freedom and the ability of faculty to shape the direction of their institutions.

The battle between the Harvard Corporation and the FAS faculty is a high-profile example of this trend. As one of the world’s most influential universities, the outcome of this dispute could have far-reaching implications for the future of faculty governance in higher education as a whole.