Denominationally affiliated colleges and universities are slightly different than secular, state-owned colleges and universities when it comes to the distribution of campus power and the process of decision making.
The following graphics are from my Ed.D. dissertation entitled Models of Academic Governance in Southern Baptist Related Colleges and Universities (2009) which shows in rank order who holds the most and least power within SBC-related versus secular, state-owned institutions.
For SBC-related schools…
For state-owned institutions…
Three key observations:
1. SBC-related schools have denominational leaders, which are obviously not present in secular, state-owned institutions. Denominational leaders are in the middle of the pack in institutional power and decision making.
2. Legislators and federal/state governments are at the bottom of SBC-related schools, but are obviously much more involved in the secular, state-owned institutions. This makes perfect since state funding and accountability are directly routed to state-owned universities.
3. The president and trustees/governors/regents are always at the top in both categories. The non-administrative faculty are in the middle for both categories.
The conclusion of my dissertation is that with a slight exception here and there, SBC-related colleges and universities follow very similar decision making paths as secular, state-owned institutions. There is not much deviation between the two rank orders. I contend that this makes perfect, tangible sense because of regional accreditation issues, federal regulations for all degree conferring institutions, and the need to be competitive in the higher education market, which is full of all sorts of players – public, private, for-profit, non-profit, online, international.
However, I do believe and can confirm from personal experience, that SBC-related institutions are unique in wanting to balance the influence and partnership with denominational leaders. The connection between churches and SBC-related schools is a needed relationship.
As there is diversity within SBC churches and their individual relationships with the state and national denomination groups with some closer, some further away, so goes the SBC-related college and university, some closer, some further away. The reason for the variance is the same as with the churches – leadership, history, future vision, priorities, and frankly investment dollars.