Governance Reconsidered: How Boards, Presidents, Administrators, and Faculty Can Help Their Colleges Thrive
Author(s): Susan R. Pierce & Stephen Trachtenberg
Publisher: Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco
ISBN: 1118738497, Pages: 256, Year: 2014
Susan Resneck Pierce’s new book, Governance Reconsidered, examines the changes in the management and governance of higher education. She draws heavily on her vast experience as a professor, department chair, dean, and the former president of the University of Puget Sound. Pierce’s central theme is that shared governance in higher education is being challenged due to financial pressures, the growing reliance on non-tenure track faculty, and questions about the value and cost of higher education. She weaves detailed case studies into her historical analyses to provide a rich overview of the changes and obstacles facing higher education.
Pierce argues that communication is key to success. Despite the many changes to the landscape of higher education, faculty, presidents, and boards can thrive if they strategize and communicate effectively. She gives concrete examples for trustees, faculty, and presidents on how to best navigate the many changes within the academy. Her skill for being able to explain how the larger contextual factors influence the historic relationships among various constituencies in higher education is valuable, and she has a keen ability to condense complex ideas into clear, concise lessons.
The author uses specific cases to exemplify and illustrate her larger points about governance and leadership. These examples demonstrate her argument more clearly, and provide valuable evidence for her recommendations. She blends positive and negative exemplars of various relationships among trustees, presidents, and faculty. The case studies, scattered throughout the book, leave the reader with an understanding of how easy it is for university administrators to lose sight of the diverse facets and perceptions of change within the academy. For example, in many of the illustrations where presidents experienced disruptions on campus, the president did not anticipate the faculty skepticism. Pierce uses a historical approach to not only explain the faculty perspective, but to empathize with it. She reiterates that the faculty is the core of the academy.