University of Southern California
Rossier School of Education Excellence in Higher Education
Bruce Johnstone
University Professor of Higher & Comparative Education,

Mary Burgan
Former General Secretary
American Association of University Professors

Ellen Chaffee  
Valley City State University

Tom Ingram
Association of Governing Boards

David Ward 
American Council on Education




Governance Roundtable

Gary Rhoades
Center for the Study of Higher Education
University of Arizona

Democracy and Capitalism, Academic Style: Governance in Contemporary Higher Education

Patterns of governance in contemporary U.S. higher education are being shaped by patterns of academic capitalism in a new economy. The past thirty years in American higher education have seen a shift from an academy shaped by an “academic revolution” of increasingly powerful faculty (Jencks and Riesman 1968) to one shaped by a “managerial revolution” of increasingly powerful, strategic academic managers (Keller 1983) who are making faculty increasingly “managed professionals” (Rhoades 1998a). At the same time, the structure of professional employment in the academy has changed, from a situation in which the dominant category was full-time faculty to one in which the growth categories of employees are part-time faculty and full-time support professionals who, in a phrase with implications for governance, have been called “managerial professionals” (Rhoades 1998b, 2002). Finally, the structure higher education has increasingly been defined economically by “academic capitalism” (Slaughter and Leslie 1997) and politically and culturally by “academic capitalism in a new economy” (Slaughter and Rhoades forthcoming), with implications for the functions of higher education that are foregrounded and prioritized in governance activities. My paper is organized around three basic themes, that academic capitalism is (a) a mode of management, (b) a mode of production, and (c) a cultural system. Each of these themes is developed with regard to structures and patterns of governance in higher education. For my purposes, I build on the American Association of University Professors’ (AAUP) model of shared governance, which for years has been central to the scholarly discussion of campus governance in the higher education literature. Each of the developments in academic capitalism represents a challenge to the active involvement of faculty and employees in governance. Thus, for each of the three themes that I elaborate, and in concluding, I suggest responses to those challenges, in the form of mechanisms that build on and modify the AAUP model. Those responses are embedded in a commitment to democracy and to democratic forms of accountability. Out of this discussion, I offer a conception of public interest professionalism grounded in more broadly democratic models of governance in higher education.




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