The American public and
most elected officials are devoted to higher education and especially
to public higher education, which accounts for 78 percent of all
enrollments and many of our most important centers of advanced
learning and research. They accept higher education's indispensable
role in creating and transmitting knowledge on which our social,
cultural, and economic well-being depends. They understand the
critical role of higher education in maximizing the opportunity
of every individual to achieve his or her potential. They are
generally satisfied with their higher educational experience.
Indeed, they are proud that American higher education is the
envy of the world and one of our leading exports.
In recent years, both
public and private higher education, however, have come under
mounting criticism from politicians, influential citizens, and
even from some within the academy. As opposed to the general public,
critics allege that standards are too low, the curriculum not
rigorous, research overemphasized, and the entire enterprise not
as productive and accountable as it should be.
Often the faculty is
the object of this criticism; not the governing boards, the administrators,
or the public officials who share responsibility for the stewardship
of public higher education. Faculty are perceived to be preoccupied
with research to the neglect of teaching, resistant to change,
indifferent to the fiscal dilemma of the public sector, and distracted
with job security under the cover of academic freedom. On the
overarching public policy issue of productivity, the faculty are
treated by many, even from within the colleges and universities,
not only as the principal problem, but as the principal barrier
to most solutions.
Much of the criticism
emanates from a serious misunderstanding about what faculty actually
do. Some of the contemporary "faculty bashing"
may also result from a much wider and more serious political assault
against all public employees and against the public sector generally.
Some of the allegations of low academic standards and unacceptably
high attrition may be part of a social weariness and distrust
with and distrust of public institutions. But we address in this
statement the misperception of faculty as the core of the so-called
productivity problem and the barrier to effective solutions.
"We" are elected
faculty representatives of the State University of New York and
the California State University systems, working with a former
chancellor, now faculty and union member, of the SUNY System.
We represent the faculty both in its traditional governance capacity,
as institutionalized in faculty senates, and in its collective
bargaining capacity, legally responsible for representing the
faculty in negotiating the terms and conditions of their employment.
In these two capacities, we represent more than 30,000 faculty
of the two largest systems of higher education in the world.
We believe our public
colleges and universities are demonstrably productive, and in
recent years have become even more so, but not without some losses
in the number and variety of programs. We and the faculty we
represent are adamantly unapologetic about our universities, our
institutions of governance and collective bargaining, and the
integrity of our professional colleagues. Quite contrary to popular
We recognize that what
we teach, what we research, and how we teach and create knowledge
must continually change in light of new social needs, new knowledge,
new perspectives on teaching and learning, and new standards.
We accept that the missions
of our institutions, and therefore the responsibilities of the
faculty, while differing both institutionally and individually,
are to serve society by advancing and transmitting knowledge.
We will continue to
participate constructively in responding to changing political
and economic circumstances, including putting forth thoughtful
proposals to restructure teaching and learning to serve better
our students and the larger society.
As faculty, we are ready
and able to address the economic, demographic, political, and
other challenges confronting the academic community. Indeed,
meaningful solutions to these challenges are only likely with
our full participation.
To this end,
we propose the following seven principles:
Public higher education
must become more productive by continuing to improve quality,
recognizing that public needs and expectations will likely exceed
that which can be provided with the funding available.
In an educational institution,
productivity must include the quality of teaching, the quality
of scholarship, and the nature and quality of public service provided.
Greater productivity does not mean simply "cheaper."
It means more quality per dollar spent: in terms of student learning,
faculty innovation and scholarship, and service to society. But
at least for the foreseeable future, and for whatever combination
of reasons, there will likely be insufficient public revenues
to enable us to teach all of the students, do all of the scholarship,
and perform all the service that society is asking of us with
the prevailing teaching loads and class sizes, and with the current
expectations regarding the quality of education and appropriate
mix of faculty time.
Part of our response
as faculty to the productivity imperative has been to do more
with our resources. Equally important are our obligations to
be clear and straightforward in explaining what must be curtailed
if state policymakers or governing boards impose further cuts
or establish priorities, and to participate in the shaping of
must focus more on strengthening outcomes such as student learning
rather than on cheapening inputs such as expenditures on faculty.
Advances in productivity
cannot come simply through cost-cutting measures that increase
class sizes and course loads while standards for students, the
academic calendar, expectations for research and service, and
requirements for continuing appointment stay the same. The faculty's
concern with quality and a focus on teaching and learning in a
changing environment will require changes in how faculty go about
their business of teaching. These changes are by no means obvious
or elementary. To increase the productivity of learning, the faculty
strategies and the curriculum with the explicit goal of clarifying
participate in K-12
educational reform, being cognizant of its implications for higher
education, providing clear statements of what entering students
need to know and be able to do for academic success, and engaging
with secondary schools to strengthen college-level learning during
use newer technologies
that can assist in achieving productivity gains consistent with
learning objectives and our changing curricula and pedagogy; and
of student learning, strengthening the work ethic and lessening
the "downtime" in the students' learning day, week and
Governing boards, academic
administration, and faculty governance bodies need to be clear
about the mix of expectations on the faculty for teaching,
scholarship and service, and must provide support
and rewards accordingly, including compensation and promotions.
It is appropriate that
all faculty be expected to remain current in their scholarship
and teach effectively and participate in service
to their institution and community. But the mix of time, attention
and achievement among the professional obligations of teaching,
scholarship and service should vary: by type or mission of institution,
among faculty members at an institution, and frequently over the
course of an individual faculty member's career.
takes diverse forms, including research, which generally culminates
in publication; preparation of new instructional materials; exhibitions
in juried shows and artistic commissions; and presentations at
and significant participation in scholarly conferences and societies.
Faculty who are hired in substantial measure to produce new knowledge
or significant creative works must be given appropriate time and
support to achieve this end and then need to be held accountable
for the level of their success, as measured primarily by recognition
from their peers.
is also diverse, encompassing traditional pedagogy, distance and
technology-based learning and instruction, the direction of dissertations
and other forms of individualized instruction, the guidance of
collaborative learning, and all forms of student advising. Faculty
hired primarily to teach are expected to devote less of their
time making original contributions to their fields and, therefore,
need to be judged accordingly for rewards, recognition, and continued
also takes many forms. Service to the institution includes participating
on departmental, school and institutional committees; holding
office and otherwise participating in faculty senates and unions;
mentoring colleagues; and contributing in other ways to the educational
quality of the institution.
Service to the profession
includes participating in scholarly conferences and societies
and in peer reviews of manuscripts and proposals. Service to
the community includes participating on school boards and other
community action groups, providing pro bono expertise,
and other forms of community volunteer work.
This principle is complicated
by the inescapable fact that rewards and recognition in academia
are skewed toward research and other forms of scholarship. Recognition
by peers, professional opportunity and mobility, chances for tenure
and promotion, the rewards of salary and other perquisites, and
greater freedom in use of time are usually given for success in
scholarship rather than teaching. To the degree that we want
to increase the time and attention given to teaching (including
advising, new course preparation, independent study, and graduate
thesis and dissertation mentoring), we must all support changes
in the reward and recognition system.
in teaching, scholarship and service need to be evaluated at regular
The primary purpose of
an evaluation of faculty is to recognize performance and, where
necessary, to strengthen it. These evaluations should be by our
departmental colleagues and our students with regard to the expectations
of teaching, advising, and student mentoring; by our peers with
regard to the expectations of scholarly contributions to, and
growth in, our respective fields; and by our institutional colleagues
and, where appropriate, by members of the community with regard
to the expectations of service.
Evaluations should be
- the development of
clear expectations for faculty, mutually agreed to, both before
and after tenure;
- the evaluation of
all faculty at stated periodic intervals in accord with these
- education and training
for department chairs and deans in effective ways of evaluating
and assisting all faculty.
Tenure is an assurance
of academic quality and institutional integrity. It is not a
barrier to academic productivity or to responsible management.
No aspect of academic
life is as difficult to explain to the outsider as tenure. Some
expectation of continuous employment after a rigorous probationary
period -- like tenure -- is important to the creativity and intellectual
vigor of most professions. Academic tenure is widely, although
mistakenly, perceived by those outside the academy to mean a lifetime
of guaranteed employment with no accountability other than professional
integrity and peer pressure. Tenure also has its critics within
the academy. Some academic officers and members of governing
boards mistakenly believe tenure to be such an iron-clad guarantee
of employment that they are increasingly unwilling to grant it,
turning instead to part-time or adjunct positions with low pay
and no security, or terminating assistant professors under the
guise of "tenure quotas," to the great disadvantage
and increasing stress of our junior colleagues.
The principle of academic
freedom -- that is, protection against loss of livelihood or the
ability to teach because of unpopular views -- must not be compromised.
Neither should other principles such as due process in discipline
or disputes, or the importance of seniority in the event of necessary
retrenchment or program discontinuation.
But much of the concern
that governing boards and academic officers have about tenure
is of their own making: the failure to place clear and rigorous
expectations on tenured faculty; the failure to evaluate on the
basis of such expectations; and the failure to act on those occasions,
however infrequent, when a faculty member, even with tenure, performs
clearly and consistently below those reasonable expectations.
Any examination of
faculty productivity must address those few individuals whose
performance falls clearly short of the reasonable expectations
of colleagues, students, and the public.
In any organization, there
will be a range of individual productivity, depending very much
on the criteria of success being used. At the high end of this
range will be colleagues of astonishing ability, energy and accomplishment.
At the low end of this range may be colleagues whose performance
falls short of reasonable expectations. It is the responsibility,
and in the self-interest, of both faculty and management to remedy
any such situation with counseling, with assistance, with new
assignments and, if necessary, with progressive discipline.
We commend those collective
bargaining agreements and faculty governance policies that incorporate
progressive discipline. One of the most common failures
of academic management is the failure to investigate fairly and
recommend appropriate remedies in a timely manner for clear cases
of faculty misconduct, ineptitude, or declining standards of quality
of work product. This failure reflects poorly on higher education
and places additional stress on the remaining faculty, who must
carry the greater departmental loads and otherwise make up for
the lost productivity of a few colleagues. It is incumbent on
management and faculty alike to address any such matters decisively,
sensitively, and with regard for fairness and due process.
be most productive only when they participate in establishing
the activities and values supported by their institutions.
All colleges and universities
must continuously change and improve. Deciding and articulating
which activities will best fulfill the mission of an institution
are the joint responsibilities of faculty, administration and
the governing board. Improvement requires allocating existing
resources according to clearly articulated priorities and consistent
with the values and mission of the academy and the institution.
Reallocation of resources to encourage necessary change and regular
improvement is best done by adherence to accepted principles of
academic governance and collective bargaining. Faculty will certainly
resist reallocation decisions that have been made with apparent
disregard for their academic principles and values. Faculty expect
these decisions to be made with intelligence, courage and sensitivity,
and in accord with clearly stated institutional missions and goals.
Our mission as faculty
in public higher education is to serve both the public and our
profession. We endorse:
- A commitment to our students' education to learn and grow in the
society and economy of the 21st century.
- A commitment to responsive and accountable institutions.
- A commitment to education as the foundation of democratic citizenship.
In conclusion, we
recognize the dangers in the misapplication of the corporate model
of productivity to the academic enterprise of teaching, learning,
scholarship and service. But we accept the likelihood of having
to do what we have been charged to do with fewer public resources
than we once knew. As a "voice" of faculty who must
face this challenge, we offer these seven principles and reiterate
our commitment to the noble mission of public higher education.
Prof. Bruce Johnstone,
State University of New York at Buffalo, Project Director
Prof. Vincent J.
Aceto, President, University Faculty Senate (SUNY)
Prof. William Barba,
State University of New York at Buffalo
Prof. James Chen,
Past President, University Faculty Senate (SUNY)
Prof. Harold Goldwhite,
Past Chair, Academic Senate, California State University
Prof. Rolland K.
Hauser, California Faculty Association
Prof. James Highsmith,
Chair, Academic Senate, California State University
Prof. Terry Jones,
President, California Faculty Association
Prof. William Scheuerman,
President, United University Professions (SUNY)
Prof. Henry Steck,
Vice President, United University Professions (SUNY)
Thobaben, Vice Chair, Academic Senate, California State University
Dr. Anthony Wildman,
Director of Field Staff, United University Professions (SUNY)
Prof. Thomas Young,
Vice President, California Faculty Association