This article investigates the relationship between democracy and the traditional university as part of the trinomial relationship between knowledge, democracy, and the university in the broader context of the knowledge society. We briefly present the theoretical background informing this discussion, followed by a case study of exercising democracy in universities at the level of Romanian public higher education institutions. Starting from the analysis of the manifestoes (electoral programs) of the candidates who ran for the position of rector, we identify a typology of rectoral candidates and their manner of understanding democracy. This analysis points to several gaps in how democracy is conceptualized, between the ideal and the exercised democracy, between theory and practice of a democratic community, and between the individual and institutional point of views. We also offer a possible solution for bridging the gaps identified in order to further support democracy in institutions of higher education.