Building upon AGB’s study published in 2016, “Shared Governance: Is OK Good Enough?” this report provides qualitative information on the state of shared governance.

AGB conducted a number of “listening sessions,” or focus groups, consisting each of board members, faculty members, and presidents (usually 15-20 participants in each session). The sessions were conducted at the annual meetings of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (faculty), the American Council on Education (presidents), the American Association of University Professors (faculty), and AGB’s National Conference on Trusteeship (board members and presidents).

In advance of each listening session, participants were sent a list of questions, as well as an outline of the basic tenets of AAUP’s “Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities,” so they could reflect on the topic in advance. Over 200 board members, presidents, and faculty members took part in the listening sessions; faculty members accounted for roughly half of that number, presidents about one third, and the remainder were board members. The participants were essentially evenly divided between independent and public institutions. In addition, members of the project’s Advisory Council provided important input and feedback, as did AGB’s Board of Directors. 

The discussions were frank, honest, and lively, and provided a broad range of insights into and perspectives on the state of shared governance at America’s colleges and universities. This report presents the key themes we heard from participants and an independent analysis of implications.