Cover image for When power corrupts : academic governing boards in the shadow of the Adelphi case
When power corrupts : academic governing boards in the shadow of the Adelphi case
Lewis, Lionel S. (Lionel Stanley)
Publication Information:
New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, [2000]

Physical Description:
x, 195 pages ; 25 cm
Personal Subject:
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LD25.8 .L49 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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"It is often said that the American academic, protected by tenure, is free to do pretty much as he or she pleases. Lewis argues that this freedom is largely an illusion. Faculty actions are greatly limited by governing boards and the academic administrators they appoint, who control institutional resources. Although ostensibly independent professionals, in many ways faculty have no more autonomy than most employees. Indeed, what power they have derives from faculty-student relationships. Lay governing boards ultimately control how money is spent and who spends it. This volume addresses issues relating to current debates over the most appropriate and effective method of academic governance.

When Power Corrupts details the conflict between the governing board and administration and faculty at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York, between 1985 and 1996. This conflict culminated in the removal of the Board of Trustees by the New York State Board of Regents. The new trustees in turn removed the president. Although the book focuses on board administration-faculty relations at one university, its findings have implications for almost all other institutions of higher learning in the United States. Lewis draws on the nearly 8,000-page transcript of the hearings of the Regents. These eleven volumes of exhibits include hundreds of documents obtained from individuals and organizations.

Lewis suggests that academic administrators have more control of governing boards than is generally recognized. Besides influencing who is asked to join a board, administrators may largely determine the information boards receive and on which they must make decisions. When faced with decisions, boards often defer to academic administrators or acquiesce to a campus president's suggestions. Because conflict over governance all too often takes precedence over academic work on American campuses, the implications for higher learning are profound. Faculty, academic administrators, members of governing boards, college students and their parents, and general readers concerned about problems relating to American higher education will find this book provocative and informative.

Lionel S. Lewis is professor emeritus of sociology and adjunct professor of higher education at SUNY/Buffalo. He has written more than 150 research articles, essays, and reviews. He is the author of Cold War on Campus: A Study of the Politics of Organizational Control and The Cold War and Academic Governance: The Lattimore Case at Johns Hopkins.

Author Notes

Lionel S. Lewis is professor emeritus of sociology and adjunct professor of higher education at SUNY/Buffalo.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

This case study details the struggle of Adelphi University's administration and board of trustees with its faculty between 1985 and 1996, which culminated in the removal of the trustees by the New York State Board of Regents. The new trustees, appointed by New York State, then dismissed the president. What occurred at Adelphi is used as a backdrop for discussing the imbalance of power in American institutions of higher learning. Lewis (sociology and higher education, SUNY at Buffalo; Scaling the Ivory Tower) relies on the 8000-page transcript of the hearings, 11 volumes of exhibits from the board of trustees and the faculty, and hundreds of documents from the American Association of University Professors, among other evidence. He suggests that academic administrators are more in control of governing boards and faculty than generally recognized and that self-perpetuating lay boards may not be the best way to govern colleges and universities. He also intimates that the American professorate is relatively powerless at the majority of American institutions of higher learning. Lewis has done his homework and argues his case convincingly. Recommended for academic libraries and all college governance and higher education collections; essential for doctoral students in higher education.DLeroy Hommerding, Fort Myers Beach Lib., FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
1. Introductionp. 1
2. The President and His Board I: The Selection Processp. 23
3. The President and His Board II: Mutual and Unqualified Faithp. 49
4. Lay Boardsp. 73
5. The Work of the Academic Governing Boardp. 95
6. The Diamandopoulos Years at Adelphip. 119
7. The Counterattack: Defending the Board and Presidentp. 149
8. Conclusionsp. 169
Indexp. 187