Future faculty must “Show me the money”?

In the last Week in Review, I highlighted The Faculty of the Future:  Leaner, Meaner, More Innovative, Less Secure (Forum, Chronicle of Higher Education, 7/10/2009).  You may remember, I’ve asked a business professor to comment on the piece.  The faculty member graciously offered some time while writing a grant proposal, wrapping up a paper to be sent out (the 6th one of the summer), grading the exams and papers from an international class, summarizing of Business School IT/New Media innovation projects, handling some administrative issues for a conference, and briefly reflecting on how neither of us works as hard as our wives ;-)   For his thoughts on the material written by ANTHONY T. GRAFTON and PETER N. STEARNS visit Week in Review.  Next week we’ll conclude with TIMOTHY CARMODY and JOSEPH C. HERMANOWICZ.

Before turning to professor’s comments, I’d like to share that I’m not surprised that the research university model has taken us to a grant money approach (collective, entrepreneurial bureaucracy) where faculty/administrators must Show me the money.  It would seem to me that mentoring/discipling students in the ethics of securing/using such money would be of significant value and lead to the value of applying lessons learned from history, literature, philosophy, pyschology, sociology, etc.  But I went to a liberal arts college ;-)

In addition, the pressure to Show me the money is not just within the organization, but incoming students call for high job placement (undergraduate and graduate/professional schools).  Job acquisition and maintenance involves not just strong training in one’s field but also good communication skills, another humanities offering worth the investment. … All the more necessary in a difficult economic time such as we’re currently in/entering.  What do you think?  In the future, I’ll return to the history/philosophy of the research university.  But now let’s turn to a few insights offered by my faculty friend. …

The comments by the first person (MARC BOUSQUET) are a very good description of the economic/organizational changes and forces.  High teaching load (in terms of total student credit hours) = more revenue.  If you don’t bring in revenue, why should we pay for you.  Better get lots of grants – otherwise we replace you with cheaper adjuncts and staff. (Bye, bye tenured faculty in everything except sciences, medicine, and engineering – where large grants bring in grants through overhead).

EVELYN HU-DEHART. … What happens to research-oriented public schools that are trying to combine high volume teaching and cutting edge research….

CATHY ANN TROWER’s comments are interesting primarily because (a) the described worlds are not contradictory and (b) they both exist already.  If you take university policies and structures as a given then her first scenario is accurate….but if you are willing to think creatively, act in ways that don’t fit with what “everyone says”, and take initiative you realize that the second scenario is also present.  To some degree this is true in any organization – but universities are designed to allow both to exist – and they always have.  At its core the university is a collective, entrepreneurial bureaucracy – also known as “organized anarchy”.

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Tom Grosh IV

Enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa, four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he hosts the Christian Scholar Series), on campus as part of InterVarsity Graduate & Faculty Ministry (serving fellowships such as the Christian Medical Society/CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine), online as the Associate Director of the Emerging Scholars Network, in the culture at large, and in God's creation.

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