Faculty Evaluation of Administrators

By Poston, Lawrence S.; Clough, Marshall S. et al. | Academe, September/October 2006 | Go to article overview

Faculty Evaluation of Administrators


Poston, Lawrence S., Clough, Marshall S., Moore, Robert K., Kreiser, B. Robert, Academe


In 1981, the Association's Fifty-seventh Annual Meeting endorsed a revision and expansion of the 1974 statement Faculty participation in the Selection and Retention of Administrators under a revised title, Faculty Participation in the Selection, Evaluation, and Retention of Administrators. Over the next two decades, inquiries from faculty members who sought further guidance in such procedures, as well as increased activity by the AAUP's Committee on College and University Governance (formerly Committee T on College and University Government), revealed that the paragraph on evaluation in the 1981 statement, though broadly affirmative of Association policy, offered little practical guidance. Something more was needed for those faculty members who were either already charged with, or wished to be more effectively involved in, such evaluations, whether midcourse during an administrator's term or as part of a more comprehensive review at the end of a term, in which termination of the appointment might be one of an array of options.

The applicable paragraph in the 1981 statement reads as follows:

Institutions should develop procedures for periodic review of the performance of presidents and other academic administrators. The purpose of such periodic reviews should be the improvement of the performance of the administrator during his or her term of office. This review should he conducted on behalf of the governing board for the president, or on behalf of the appointing administrator for other academic administrators. Fellow administrators, faculty, students, and other's should participate in the review according to their legitimate interest in the result, with faculty of the unit accorded the primary voice in the case of academic administrators. The governing board or appointing administrator should publish a summary of the review, including a statement of actions taken as a result of the review.

It will be noted that this statement does not distinguish between the two broad types of review just cited, nor does it otter any specific advice on the conduct of the review. It leaves open the question of just what "primary voice" means, and its concluding sentence sidesteps a host of issues including possible legal restraints on the release of information, or the level of detail to be offered in relationship to different kinds of outcomes.

In 2001, the governance committee's report to the annual meeting called for the development of a statement of principles and recommended procedural standards to supplement the brief paragraph quoted above, and the procuring of sample evaluation instruments that could lend any recommendations some detail. The substance of the committee's thinking on the matter at that time is not reiterated in this introduction, because it informs the report that follows and is. in some measure, reproduced verbatim in "Broad Principles" below.

In the interim between that report and now, the Association's staff collected a variety of sample instruments and policy statements on which the present subcommittee, appointed at the end of 2005, has drawn.1 The subcommittee had before it documents from seven public flagship campuses, eight other slate colleges or universities either part of a larger system or with a stand-alone identity (such as those with historic teacher-training missions), one statewide faculty senate, a large public urban college, a medical center, two liberal arts colleges, a midsize private university, and a Canadian university. Some cautions should be drawn from this sample, chief among them the familiar, "one sixe does not fit all." The prevalence of large public institutions may be in part circumstantial, the result of the fact that at many smaller colleges the evaluation of administrators may proceed much more informally and communally, without extensive written procedures; other institutions, both small and large, private or public (for example, the community-college sector), may have little or no tradition of faculty involvement at all. …

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