Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Learning Sciences and Human Development

Committee Chair

Ernest R. Goeres

Committee Co-Chair

Susan A. Aloi

Committee Member

Dennis H. Stull

Committee Member

Richard T. Walls

Committee Member

Robert A. Waterson


The purpose of this study was to investigate how faculty, administrators, and staff perceived the climate for shared governance at 36 member institutions of the Appalachian College Association (ACA), based on standards for sound shared governance in higher education as outlined by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). Numerous reports and studies have focused on shared governance practices, but no research exists on perceptions of climate based on standards outlined by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), which published the seminal Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities in 1966. This study was conducted through the Appalachian College Association, a non-profit consortium of 36 independent, four-year liberal arts colleges and universities spread across the central Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Virginia. A total of 12 different institutions from all five states in the ACA participated in the study. Participants included faculty, staff, and administrators who were identified by their presidents or vice presidents for academic affairs as most knowledgeable about the shared governance and decision-making process on their campus. The survey, developed under the auspices of the AAUP to gauge the climate for governance, was distributed via an online link e-mailed to 480 faculty, administrators, and staff during the Fall 2013 and Spring 2014 semesters. A total of 176 survey responses were received, representing a response rate of 36.66%. The 29-item anonymous survey included three optional demographic questions, allowing respondents to indicate gender, status as tenured or non-tenured faculty member, a cabinet-level administrator or lower-level administrator, a staff member, and years in higher education. The survey used a five-point ordinal Likert scale to indicate level of agreement--including "I don't know"-- with 26 statements about each of the following seven shared governance standards: institutional climate, institutional communication, the board's role, the president's role, the faculty's role, joint decision making, and structural arrangements. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze and describe the survey results for each of four research questions. The results of this study indicated there were different perceptions between tenured and non-tenured faculty on a number of the seven standards relative to the climate for shared governance, and between cabinet-level administrators and lower-level administrators, with the latter representing the largest group of respondents (52) in the study. Staff members' responses indicated that they were least informed about shared governance on their campuses compared to faculty and administrators. While the majority of respondents indicated there was a climate of collegiality and respect on their campuses, survey results indicated a lack of knowledge about shared governance at some ACA schools. Recommendations for practice and for research were included.