[EAS]Faculty Values and Rewards

pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Sat Apr 7 19:25:41 EDT 2001

Subject:   Faculty Values and Rewards

Dear Colleagues -

In both public and private universities attention is called
periodically to a major dichotomy in values, deeply stressful for
junior faculty. On the one hand there stands individual research
excellence, with its metrics seared into the faculty conscience. On
the other hand there are the responsibilities to groups (students,
departments, and the university as a whole), with a general lack of
metrics, perceived or applied. 
At best one can raise these issues, perhaps at times of awareness
heightened by a program reaccreditation or such, in the hope of
glacial progress. But it is as clear as glacial ice that bridging
this dichotomy must start with action from the very top of a
university's administration, just as corporate programs in ethics
or quality control can only work if energetically supported in
every quarter, from the CEO on down.  
In recent days we have seen some top-level decisions affecting
education, such as the Univ. of California system dropping the
use of SAT scores, MIT's decision to make all its course content
public for free. How about a courageous explicit reward policy for
teaching and other academic service?  --PJK
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The thought-provoking excerpt below asks the question: Where is any
concept of group responsibility or of the importance to quality
assessment of student-related outcome measures in the faculty
reward system? It is from Chapter 11, Reform from Within: Lessons
for Academic Administrators, in FACULTY WORK AND PUBLIC TRUST:
Restoring the Value of Teaching and Public Service in American
Academic Life, by JAMES S. FAIRWEATHER, The Pennsylvania State
University. Copyright (c) 1996 by Allyn & Bacon, A Simon and
Schuster Company Needham Heights, Massachusetts 02194.
[http://vig.abacon.com/] All rights reserved. Reprinted with


Rick Reis
reis at stanford.edu
UP NEXT: The Roles of Department Chairs and Deans in Managing
Faculty Conflict

                           Tomorrow's Academy

           ------------------- 572 words ------------------
                  The Faculty Profession Revisited

Neither legislation to impose standard teaching workloads nor the
current faculty reward systems confront the main barrier to reform,
namely the individual nature of faculty rewards based on a limited
definition of performance.  The focus of higher education on the
individual faculty member, on a single dominant model -the research
university- has ensured perpetuation of the current emphasis on
research and scholarship.  Faculty within an institution, a
department, or a program are required to follow the same behavioral
pattern as other faculty to receive promotion, tenure, and high

Missing in this approach to faculty rewards is any concept of group
responsibility or of the importance to quality assessment of
student-related outcome measures.  Faculty are judged individually
on their achievements; departments or other units are judged not by
a measure of larger good but by the sum of the performance by
individual faculty.  The primacy of research and publishing in
faculty rewards, even at non-research universities, indicates that
the performance of groups is judged by limited criteria.  It is
possible for a department or other unit to be judged of high
quality because the faculty adhere individually to high standards
of publishing.  Yet the same department might have a low graduation
rate, poor advising standards, and limited student satisfaction. 
Research and publishing are not inherently related to low
performance on teaching-related indicators or to poor student
performance, but they are not necessarily indicative of positive
student learning outcomes either.[1]

Some concept of group is required to free faculty from pursuing
identical behaviors.  Incorporating student outcomes not just for
individual faculty evaluations but for the group as well is
critical to meeting a wider variety of societal needs.  In this
vision, a mixture of faculty, some spending more time on teaching,
others on research and service, is more likely to achieve a wider
array of goals than a faculty in which each member within a unit is
judged on the same limited criteria.  Adopting group-centered
values, or at least enhancing their relevance in faculty
evaluations, requires recognizing the value of the role an
individual plays in the group.  Consider a hypothetical department
with ten faculty.  The group must meet both individual performance
criteria and group-centered outcomes.  The faculty decide to meet
the group obligations (e.g., advising, teaching, student
satisfaction, gradation rates) by having faculty best-suited to
advising and teaching spend more time on these roles, while faculty
more capable at research spend a higher proportion of their time on
that activity.  I am not arguing that some faculty in a group
should neglect the wider array of faculty activities; faculty who
spend more time teaching should also publish, and faculty who spend
more time on research should also teach.  I am advocating a new
reward system for faculty, one which encourages teaching and
service as well as research and scholarship, includes group as well
as individual achievement, and recognizes that faculty are not the
only constituency that counts in academic institutions.

Unless faculty and administrators develop and implement acceptable
standards for assessing student performance, determining faculty
effectiveness in activities other than research, and evaluating the
fit between institutional outcomes and societal needs, then
legislatures, federal agencies, and even nonprofit entities may
impose such standards. I believe it much preferable for academic
leaders to develop solutions to these problems from within.  If
academic administrators and their faculty fail to respond,
complaints about intervention and its threat to academic freedom
will fall on deaf ears.


[1] K.A. Feldman, "Research Productivity and Scholarly
Accomplishment of College Teachers as Related to Their
Instructional Effectiveness," Research in Higher Education, 26
(1987): 227-98.

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