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February 16, 1964 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 1964-02-16
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I. Direction of 'U'
II. Origin and Administration


DECISION-MAKING at the University
is an extremely complex and diffuse
process. Even seemingly simple decisions
must often go through many levels of
consideration before a solution can be
made final. Formal delegations of power
rarely describe the intricate and delicate
processes involved just as they often tell
little about where the real power in any
given matter lies.
There are, of course, decisions reserved
to a single level of consideration. These
are few but important. Departments can
decide what courses to offer and when.
The individual teacher often has a great
deal of freedom in deciding what shall
be taught in his classes, especially be-
yond the mass, introductory oourses. In
short, individual departments and/or
schools and colleges and in many cases
individual faculty members have a great
deal of freedom to experiment in the
classroom and teach what they please
subject only to the judgments of their
academic peers in their discipline.
But the broader decisions-those that
involve more than one unit of the Uni-
versity, those that demand the expendi-
ture of any substantial sum of money
and those that involve total University
policy-are not made so simply. For
example, the decision to hire an addition-

al faculty member is, in itself, a matter
effecting only a particular department.
Yet it involves additional money for the
budget of that department. In turn, this
means that a certain amount of the
University's limited resources must be
committed for a number of years. And
in turn, the need of that department
must be judged against the needs of other
departments in the same school and
other schools in the University.
Thus the function of coordinating re-
quests and setting priorities needs in
itself becomes a critical part of the deci-
sion-making process. Partially, these
functions are carried out by the deans
and where they exist, the executive com-
mittees of the various colleges. But it
largely falls to the Office of Academic
Affairs, which bears the :major part of
the responsibility in such matters as
allocating funds among the academic
units and seeing that requests are coord-
inated in one way or another.
TwO SIGNIFICANT points emerge
from this description. First, no deci-
sion is made in a vacuum but in the con-
text of competing requests and on various
levels of consideration. Second, money is
usually the limiting factor which de
facto gives to the administrators a great
deal of power in matters which outwardly
seem merely academic.

It is clear that these considerations
place a great deal of power in the hands
of administrators, especially in the Office
of Academic Affairs and to some extent
in the financial office. This power can
be exercised in many ways. An example
of administrative use of power is in
regard to the education school. This unit
has long been on the University's capital
outlay list for a new building. However,
it was told last year that its new building
would not be forthcoming, hence forcing
this unit to work for another Ann Arbor
high school and, in effect, making policy
for the school.
However, it is also the case that this
power is not often used arbitrarily, es-
pecially in matters concerning the fac-
ulty. In some matters of policy, the vice-
presidents consult with the appropriate
committees of the University Senate. In
others, they consult with faculty mem-
bers of the individual unit. But often
this is not any sort of democratic process
but only consultation in which adminis-
trators are trying to get a feeling of the
nature of faculty opinion. An example
of this is the transition to full-year
operation. The plan was drawn up by a
faculty committee specially appointed
to investigate the University's calendar
but it was never voted upon by the fac-
ulty. University administrators discussed
full-year operation with the faculty of
individual units.
THE FACULTY has a role in decision-
making but generally not the initia-
tive. There have been a number of sug-
gestions for change advocating that stu-
dents and/or faculty have a greater
voice in University policy-making. The
most radical suggestion is that the ad-
ministration should be in the position of
only carrying out policies made for it by
faculty and/or students, thus making
the University conform to the "commun-
ity of scholars" concept.
It seems to me more reasonable to
institute some of the proposals made re-
cently that would reorganize the faculty
so that it could react more quickly in
time of crisis 'e.g. the body larger than
SACUA but smaller than the University
Senate which could speak for the whole
Another important faculty role should
be in the choice of top administrators,
perhaps even electing the president of
the University every so many years.
The barriers to faculty participation in
University policy-making are immense
and any solution ought to reckon with

them. First, if a faculty member becomes
too involved in University policy-making
to the point where he has an intelligent
grasp of the total picture, he is likely
to be devoting so much time to University
affairs that he is probably not a faculty
member any longer but an administrator.
Second, there is no reason to suppose
that the faculty will make better deci-
sions than the administration. Faculty
are often provincial and conservative,
especially where their own vested inter-
ests are concerned. Third, somehow,
somewhere, somebody has to resolve the
conflicts of interest that occur within a
university. It is unlikely that the faculty
could do this. Fourth, the University
would be unable to hire first-rate ad-
ministrators if it offered them no discre-
tion at all and expected them to be
mere tools of the faculty.
THERE IS NO simple solution to the
problem of who should make the deci-
sions and where., As things stand, tre
Office of Academic Affairs, coupled with
the office of the vice-president for re-
search and the financial office, are the
most powerful agencies in the Univer-
sity. The position of the President is dif-
ficult to place within this structure. It
is not unreasonable to assume that he is
involved with very little of the routine
decision-making but the exact method
he uses to inject himself into the im-
portant policy debates is too much a
function of personality to discuss here.
At the moment, the most profitable
action the faculty could take is to make
some internal assessment and try to set
some priorities of its own as a direction
for the University.
If the faculty could overcome its frag-
mentation to the point where it could
discuss specific areas in which the Uni-
versity needs direction, it would then
have some framework within which to
influence the University administration.
The faculty will never have power unless
it exercises what power it has to the
maximum, unless it shows itself capable
of decision-making. The very hazy issue
of the residential college is an example.
It is now more than two years since the
original faculty group came up with the
first plans. The plan is now in the hands
of the third group to handle it and the
end of faculty deliberations is not in
sight. Regents, administrators and stu-
dents are waiting patiently. When will
the faculty finally decide what, if any-
thing, it wants? Will the faculty be cap-
able of debating all the issues thorough-
ly? The answers are by no means clear.

THE UNIVERSITY'S eight-member
Board of Regents, elected at large, is
ultimately responsible for running the
University. The state constitution estab-
lishes the Regents as a body corporate, a
status entitling them to exercise and/or
delegate the authority needed to run the
The Regents are private citizens who
act as part-time educators. They delegate
a good deal of power in some areas and
handle decisions in other areas. They
particularly tend to exercise their author-
ity in budgetary matters and to accept
administrative decisions relating to fac-
ulty appointments, curricular decisions,
the like. But there are no hard, fast rules
in delegation or exercise of authority.
The top administrators are the presi-
dent and six vice-presidents, each with a
roughly specified area of authority and
various other powers which may accrue
according to position or personality.
ACADEMIC policy-making is concen-
trated in the schools and colleges.
Some, such as the literary college and
law school, approach "town-meeting" de-
mocracy, with their faculties acting as
legislatures. In addition, individual de-
partments in LSA enjoy autonomy. Oth-
ers, notably the medical school, are tight-
ly controlled by their dean and/or execu-
tive committee. Still others are governed
by various combinations and variations
of these methods.
In addition to groups with formally-
granted authority to make decisions and
enforce them, there are many which have
advisory functions, some formally recog-
nized and others simply too loud or im-
portant to be ignored. On paper, the Uni-
versity Senate, composed of all faculty
of assistant professor or higher rank,
(plus administration) is the faculty's
spokesman; Student Government Coun-
cil, composed of elected representatives
and ex-officio members from large cam-
pus organizations, is the students' offi-
cial voice. In fact, various Senate sub-
committees, ad hoc faculty and/or stu-
dent committees, and concerned faculty
or students speaking out on their own
may have a greater impact than the
recognized channels of opinion.
The public's role in University policy
making is difficult to determine. Just
how heavy public, and alumni pressure
is, and to what extent public-relations
considerations affect University policy,
varies from situation to situation.
It is a danger to oversimplify the com-
plicated decision-making process but,in

short, any legalistic or hierarchical mod-
el of University decision-making falls
considerably short of reality. Seldom does
anyone at the University have the co-
ercive tools to hand down a totally un-
popular fiat and enforce it: there are
too many people who can either go else-
where or simply refuse to cooperate.
Thus, bringing a particular policy from
the idea stage into full operation involves
bargaining, compromise and diplomacy.
THIS IS, in broad strokes, the Univer-
sity decision-making situation as it is
now. But is this how it should be?
The major challenge comes from those
who claim the University is-or should
be-a "community of scholars." The
scholars are the faculty and/or students
(depending on whom you ask) in whose
hands the decision-making power should
rest, to be exercised democratically. The
administrators should confine themselves
to carrying out this policy, truly becom-
ing the servants instead of the superiors
of the rest of the community. This phil-
osophical argument is buttressed with
some pragmatic assertions: administra-
tors are out of touch with the academic
community. Only faculty really under-
stand educational needs. Students can
best decide what's best for themselves;
or, to the extent that they can't, learning
to do it on their own is a critical part of
Such reasonings lead to proposals for
a representative legislature of some kind,
comprised of faculty and sometimes stu-
dents, with authority over all University
policy. Milder versions call for such a
body governing particular areas such as
student affairs.
O PPONENTS claim these views involve
one contradiction and numerous col-
lisions with reality. The contradiction: in
the name of democracy, the proposals
ignore or minimize the role of the Re-
gents, the group democratically chosen
by the voters of Michigan to run the Uni-
versity. The factual arguments claim that
administrators are in fact more in touch
with University needs and problems than
most faculty, secluded in their labs and
studies and too busy or apathetic to par-
ticipate in academic democracy. Univer-
sity Senate and literary college faculty
meeting attendance records support this
view.- Roughly the same indictment is
hurled at students, along with claims that
students are too young, impulsive, ir-
responsible and will not be at the Univer-
sity long enough to take a constructive
role in University decision-making.

This leads to a moderate proposal:
trust the administration to make the
right decisions, but make every attempt
to be sure that administrators have com-
plete "feedback" from the community.
This involves improving student and fac-
ulty advisory organs: making them more
representative, better informed and fast-
Still farther from the "community of
scholars" position is that which argues
that the administration doesn't have
enough decision-making and enforcing
power. Here the arguments of faculty
apathy and student irresponsibility reach
a crescendo. , The administration, it is
pointed out, is composed of full-time edu-
cational executives, professionals trained
for and dedicated singly to running a
large university. Neither they, nor the
faculty who'd rather be teaching or re-
searching, nor the students who'd rather

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