Shared Governance Practices In Maryland Community Colleges
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DepartmentCommunity College Leadership Program
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Community College Education
The landscape of higher education is dynamic and continually changing due to cultural shifts, student demography, the influence of technology, and pressures from external constituents. The changing landscape of higher education requires good governance. Community colleges are called upon to rethink their existing governance structures (Crellin, 2010; Anderson & Horn, 2012). In the search for alternative governance models, shared governance paradigms continue to emerge as essential. The call for good governance has been a need for shared governance by faculty and vice presidents for academic affairs (Nussbaum, 1995). Shared governance requires stakeholders with shared responsibilities to participate in shared and collaborative decisions at the domain level for the purpose of advancing general educational policies through common objectives. The literature review revealed that community colleges are steeped in tradition (Crellin, 2010), and that the governance style that prevails is bureaucratic and hierarchical in structure (Miller & Miles, 2008). Bureaucratic governance is inefficient and unable to cope with changing environmental forces. Research suggests that institutions with a shared governance model perform better than their counterparts that do not have this model (Louis, Leithwood, Wahlstrom, & Anderson, 2010). This study examines the extent of shared governance practices in sixteen Maryland public community colleges revealing that Maryland public community colleges have formalized processes for faculty to participate in the decision-making process in a number of defined areas within the institution. Hence, they revealed a participatory form of governance structure but not a shared governance model; in other words, none of the Maryland community colleges participate formally in shared governance. Faculty do not have decision-making control within their domain areas, but can serve as a recommending body to the cabinet-level administrators. This finding called into question how Maryland community colleges were related to the ideals of shared governance in their self-study as mandated by Middle States Commission on Higher Education's Characteristic of Excellence in Higher Education.