In higher education, and education in general, the wrong people often seem to be making the decisions. Recently, the government has become increasingly involved in higher education. It seems hypocritical for them to make more demands about how higher education should be executed as they continue to cut federal and state funding. The government should regulate universities only enough to ensure that they are meeting basic standards and not violating any laws. Right now it seems they are trying to increase involvement. A legislator complaining that a university is hiring professors of the wrong religion or political party exceeds an acceptable level of government involvement (It was mentioned in class that this has occurred). Another somewhat over involved party in decision-making is university administrators. While administrators should and do have some authority or they would not be in such a position (at least we hope), many do not have relevant teaching experience to draw from when making decisions. None of these individuals have the expertise to make decisions regarding many of the important topics in higher education; however, they do have the authority to do so.
The administrators and politicians may have authority, but the teachers and students, who are most affected by the decisions made, should be the ones determining the direction of higher education. Unfortunately, this is not a viable option as every decision would require a vote, which is not exactly time efficient, thus not a realistic solution. Because of this the administrators should have a representative body of the faculty and student body, as a whole. In general, OU is lucky in the sense that President Boren’s views and decisions are usually aligned with the stance of the institution. This is not always the case I am sure. Faculty decisions including hiring, tenure, workload, and the like should be determined by department heads and deans as they tend to have had recent experience in a related field allowing them a view others do not have. Department heads and deans should also be in charge of broad curriculum decisions such as a general outline of what should be taught. How the material is taught and what to highlight should be left up to individual professors. As far as student affairs, such as admissions and misconduct, a combination of a student and faculty committee should make these decisions. Administration and politicians should simply be there to be moderate and give guidance, but right now operation is the opposite of this. Faculty members are serving as moderators and politicians and administrators (which are kind of one and the same) are making the decisions.
Faculty holds the expertise to make decisions and in the interest of turning a profit, or at least breaking even, the students should be kept happy or at least feel heard. It is nearly impossible to balance all of these people, their wants, and their needs. Committees are formed to try to make decisions happen more easily and quickly, but in the blink of an eye the number of committees builds and ten must be consulted for one decision. Administrators want to make the decisions because in their mind they have the most authority. They do happen to be the most public (and usually have the most money), which does give them a sort of power that neither faculty nor students possesses. The face of the university (the president) has a lot of influence and if he or she lets the authority go to their head then others voices fall silent, both students and faculty. The role of a president should be to make hasty decisions that do not have time for a vote and to represent the faculty and student body in all other decisions. Right now the control is wrongly placed, but it is unlikely that the situation will change. OU has been lucky as previously stated that our president is the representative he is, possessing integrity and respect for those that make his university run. Other schools are not so fortunate and for them the tide cannot turn soon enough.