Major current changes and opportunities affecting public research universities in the United States include reduction in financial support from state governments, the rise of broadband communication, and globalization. The governance of public universities and university systems must evolve to meet and serve these needs and opportunities better. At the governing-board level, it is important that governance move closer to the front line so as to deal better with campus-specific challenges, such as private fund-raising, new partnerships for both research and education, and localized entrepreneurial activities. Within university systems devolution of some functions of system-level board governance to campus boards can be effective, as can mixed private-public membership of boards that themselves remain fully public.
Shared Governance involves faculty in the governance of the university in roles that are consultative or advisory, and sometimes roles delegated directly to faculty organizations. The Academic Senate of the University of California is a prime example. More diverse funding of public universities calls for the ability of Shared Governance to move rapidly and effectively, and in ways that recognize the full spectrum of issues that now impinge upon universities. Ways are being explored to enhance speed and effectiveness while retaining the principles, utility, and benefits of Shared Governance.