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Faculty Development
10/24/2014 12:00 AM

Practically every institution of higher education cites some expectation for research, creative or scholarly achievement. But the meanings of these terms vary widely among disciplines and types of institutions.

For example, with respect to various types of disciplines, research achievement that would be of sufficient stature to warrant promotion within arts or humanities disciplines might not be considered scholarly, let alone “research,” within disciplines like engineering or science.

A.C. “Buddy” HimesPractically every institution of higher education cites some expectation for research, creative or scholarly achievement. But the meanings of these terms vary widely among disciplines and types of institutions.

For example, with respect to various types of disciplines, research achievement that would be of sufficient stature to warrant promotion within arts or humanities disciplines might not be considered scholarly, let alone “research,” within disciplines like engineering or science. Further, within the same discipline but among different types of institutions, research achievement that would be of sufficient stature to warrant promotion at a Carnegie Bal/SGC (balanced arts and sciences/professions, some graduate coexistence) or even an RU/H (research universities [high research activity]) type institution could be totally discounted if held to research expectations of a Carnegie RU/VH (research universities [very high research activity]) type institution. And finally, even within the same discipline at the same institution, anecdotal evidence demonstrates that junior faculty preparing to apply for tenure or promotion might have very different impressions of what research is as compared to their deans or senior faculty colleagues.

So if research connotes different meanings among various disciplines, types of institutions, and even different ranks within the same discipline, can there be any commonalities?

Yes, according to J. Douglas Toma in his paper “Positioning for Prestige in American Higher Education,” presented at the 2008 Conference of the Association for the Study of Higher Education. Toma stated that even though institutions might be vastly different in orientation, markets served and available resources, the approaches they use to measure forms of prestige — including stature of faculty research — are basically variations on a common theme, differing more in scale than type.

The notion of a scale of stature is also found in Thomas J. Tighe’s book, Who’s in Charge of America’s Research Universities? Here, Tighe sets forth the idea that, among the various Carnegie classifications, there is a continuum of institutions that can be described in terms of progressively higher levels of education offered, correlated with increasing emphasis on research and scholarship.

Like Tighe’s continuum of institutions, a hypothetical continuum of research, creative and scholarly achievement may likewise be described in terms of progressively higher levels of stature. It would begin with a threshold level, progressing to work being distinguished from other faculty at one’s institution, then distinguished among faculty at other institutions, and culminating in credentials that demonstrate one is recognized as an authority by peers in the field.

While it is not possible to list every conceivable research, creative or scholarly activity, and, of course, it is assumed that such a continuum would be fluid, with considerable crossover between stages, a hypothetical continuum could look something like the following:

So in the final analysis, research, creative and scholarly achievement all result from the same types of endeavor. And the stature of achievement resulting from these endeavors is relative to the discipline and the institution. Ultimately, it is the deans and review committees who determine when the stature of creative or scholarly achievement is sufficient to be considered research that warrants awarding tenure or promotion to the rank for which a faculty member is applying.

Enrollment Management
9/25/2014 12:00 AM

In the September 1989 issue of Change magazine, Richard Chait, executive director of The National Center for Postsecondary Governance and Finance at the University of Maryland, describes the following memorandum:

To: The Dean of Enrollment Management

From: The President (or Faculty Senate)

Welcome aboard. Please recruit more and better students from a smaller and weaker pool of prospects without increased costs, more financial aid, or drastic program changes. Would like to see results reflected in next year’s class. Best wishes.

Let’s fast forward to 2014 and read the following memo:

To: The President, Provost, Faculty Senate, Chief Financial Officer, Directors of Admission, Financial Aid, Retention, Student Services, Technology, Career Counseling and Alumni Affairs

From: The Dean of Enrollment Management

Welcome to a new academic year. Please give me a holistic administrative structure that will allow me to recruit students based on outcomes and return on educational investment. Please provide information on the success of our students from first to second year and the percentage of students who graduate in four years with manageable debt. Would like to include the employment statistics of recent graduates and alumni in next year’s marketing plan. Best wishes.

If it seems reasonable to hold enrollment managers solely responsible for meeting enrollment and tuition goals, let’s consider the following:

According to the Federal Reserve, inflation-adjusted median family income declined by 7.6 percent between 2007 and 2010, and median net worth declined by 39 percent.

At the same time that family income, net worth and disposable income declined, fees at private universities increased by 28 percent and fees at public institutions increased by 27 percent.

At the same time as tuition and fees increased, federal and state support for higher education decreased.

Next came the Great Recession with the loss of millions of jobs. College graduates, like many older workers, found it increasingly difficult to obtain employment. Finally came the spate of editorials and opinion articles questioning the value of a college education.

Clayton Christensen, author of The Innovative University, wrote that 50 percent of current colleges and universities will either close or merge by 2020. Susan Fitzgerald of Moody’s predicted a “death spiral” of college closings.

A 2011 Pew Research Center report said that 57 percent of Americans felt that a college education was not good value.

Against this background and economic reality, it is both unreasonable and unrealistic to expect enrollment managers alone to “bring in a class” every year. The higher education environment is much more complicated today than it was nearly 35 years ago when Jack Maguire first coined the term enrollment management. I would suggest that the “perfect storm” in higher education cannot be fully addressed even by the most sophisticated traditional strategic enrollment management plans.

The economy has changed, the American psyche has changed — maybe forever — about the value of a college education, and the students of tomorrow have changed.

The students of tomorrow:

  • Will be older, minority (the new majority) and female.
  • Will attend school closer to home.
  • May opt for technical and or vocational two-year degrees or certificates.
  • Will attend college part-time.
  • Will attend college year-round.
  • Will attend many institutions and have transcripts from more than one institution.
  • Will enroll in schools with competency-based options and service-learning programs.
  • Will select school based, in part, on job placement.
  • Will take courses online and in the classroom.
  • Will attend classes in the evening and on the weekend.
  • Will participate in one or more internship programs.
  • Will manage their financial aid after enrollment and graduate with manageable debt based on first-year starting salaries.
  • Will establish a relationship with the staffs of the career counseling center and alumni office.

Can any single administrator meet the needs of the students of tomorrow? As a former enrollment manager, I realize that political structures, entrenched interests and rigid administrative silos make it impossible at times to move the dial. When enrollment goals are not met, the fault is usually laid at the enrollment manager’s doorstep.

In a recent publication, What Presidents Think: A 2013 Survey of Four-Year College Presidents by Jeffrey Selingo, 25 percent of the presidents surveyed reported that they deal daily with enrollment issues, an increase from 13 percent in 2005. However, that is still a minority, and many enrollment managers would welcome intervention from their president or provost.

Only presidents or provosts can create a yearlong calendar of classes, increase online learning, create a hybrid curriculum, offer new courses and certificate programs, authorize a four-year career counseling program, and mandate employment statistics be shared with the enrollment management staff. Only a president or provost can be certain that strong academic advising and advisors help first-year students return for the second year.

Only presidents can create a climate that allows enrollment managers, directors of admission and financial aid, student service deans, retention directors, technology staff, and staff from the career counseling and alumni affairs offices to be at the same table when marketing and recruitment plans are drafted for the next admission cycle. And only presidents or provosts have the authority to hold the entire team responsible for future enrollment, retention and graduation.

In 1850, Francis Wayland, president of Brown University, wrote the following: “Our colleges are not filled because we do not furnish the education desired by the people. We have produced an article for which demand is diminishing. We sell it at less than cost, and the deficiency is made up by charity. We give it away, and the demand still diminishes.”

Based on President Wayland’s quote, perhaps it is safe to assume that some of the problems higher education is experiencing today are not unique.

The concept of managing enrollment today from a single office and person should shift to campuswide involvement, with several offices all contributing to enrolling and graduating students. And managing the entire enterprise should be the president or provost.

Special Report
8/26/2014 12:00 AM

When you were new to academic administration, were you offered training that helped you manage your new responsibilities? Or did your institution take a sink-or-swim approach to your professional development?

And what about junior-level administrators at your institution? Do you ensure that they have resources they need to address their knowledge gaps?

We recently surveyed deans and provosts about professional development — what they received as new administrators and what they provide on their campuses. We heard from 150 of them.

When you were new to academic administration, were you offered training that helped you manage your new responsibilities? Or did your institution take a sink-or-swim approach to your professional development?

And what about junior-level administrators at your institution? Do you ensure that they have resources they need to address their knowledge gaps?

We recently surveyed deans and provosts about professional development — what they received as new administrators and what they provide on their campuses. We heard from 150 of them.

In this first installment of the results, we reveal what training survey respondents received when they became academic administrators.

Most leaders received informal training

When we asked, “When you took your first position as an academic administrator, what type of training did you receive?” survey respondents said:

Those who chose “other” specified that senior administrators answered their questions, they followed the lead of their predecessor, they took advantage of other deans’ knowledge, and “trial by fire.”

We then asked what training was most important to survey-takers when they began working as academic administrators. The most common response was that gaining experience on the job was the most valuable. Mentoring and networking with other academic administrators were also popular answers, as was “I didn’t receive any training.”

A number of survey takers listed specific topics they were trained on that were particularly useful to them. If you are responsible for providing professional development to others — or if you are just starting out in administration — consider that these are skills you might want to focus on:

  • Supervising faculty.
  • Finance and budgeting.
  • Regulatory/legal matters.
  • Accreditation.
  • Learning to say no.
  • Leadership.
  • Human resources.
  • Conflict resolution.

We also asked, “If you could have had any type of training, on any topic, when you were a new academic administrator, what would you have chosen and why?” The topics mentioned above were named, with budgeting being the most frequent answer. Survey-takers also mentioned the following topics:

  • Accounting.
  • Records management.
  • Registration software. That would enable the respondent to help with students when the officers were especially busy.
  • Shared governance.
  • Curriculum. “Folks interested in administration should attend curriculum meetings on a regular basis to get the method by which curriculum is established and maintained,” the respondent said.
  • Work/life balance.
  • Understanding political dynamics.
  • Data management. One survey-taker said it would be especially useful to know how to use Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System information to break out education costs by student, department, college, etc.
  • Fundraising/external relationships.
  • Labor relations (dealing with unions).
  • Change management.

Some survey takers suggested specific formats they thought would have been most effective for preparing them for their new roles. Most often, they said that formal mentoring, with specific goals and regular check-ins, would have been helpful. Others wished for a yearlong training program with monthly meetings and the opportunity to attend a national conference.

Leaders give training a B-

We asked survey takers, “How would you rate the training you received as a new academic administrator?” They chose grades from A+ to F. The mean — and the most common response — was a B-.

About the respondents

Our survey-takers were about equally divided between deans (including associate and assistant deans) and chief academic officers (including associate or assistant provosts). The majority of them (64 percent) have held positions in higher education, including faculty positions, for 20 or more years. Most are seasoned administrators: 29 percent have held any administrative positions for 8 to 12 years, 33 percent have done so for 13 to 19 years, and 22 percent have been administrators for 20 or more years. The largest number — 37 percent — have held their current positions for 4 to 7 years.

Lawsuits and Rulings
8/13/2013 12:00 AM

30+ years of law practice are no substitute for scholarship

Case name: Spaeth v. Georgetown University, No. 11-1376 (ESH) (D.D.C. 05/09/13).

Ruling: The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted summary judgment to Georgetown University, dismissing the plaintiff’s age discrimination claims.

Case name: Spaeth v. Georgetown University, No. 11-1376 (ESH) (D.D.C. 05/09/13).

Ruling: The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted summary judgment to Georgetown University, dismissing the plaintiff’s age discrimination claims.

What it means: When a plaintiff claims he was not interviewed for a college or university position because of his age, it’s not sufficient to show that the individuals interviewed and hired were younger than he was. He must also show that he had all the qualifications necessary to obtain a tenure-track position.

Summary: Nicholas Spaeth — born in 1950 — attended Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship. He graduated from Stanford Law School in 1977 after serving as a law review editor.

Following law school, he served as North Dakota state attorney general for seven years, as general counsel to several Fortune 500 companies, and as a lawyer in private practice. He also taught constitutional law as an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota Law School from 1980 through 1983.

In 2009, he decided to pursue an academic career. Ultimately, he obtained a non-tenure-track position as a visiting professor of law at the University of Missouri at Columbia for the 2010-2011 school year.

In 2010, Spaeth submitted a resume to an online resume system in which 172 law schools participated because his visiting professor position was only a one-year appointment.

He also wrote to several law schools directly to indicate his interest in being considered for a position.

He did not write directly to Georgetown University because he didn’t think that he wanted to live in Washington, D.C.

Spaeth was invited to preliminary interviews by only two schools and received no job offers.

He then filed a suit against Georgetown, claiming that its failure to interview and hire him violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act because it ultimately hired three less-qualified candidates who were approximately 25 years younger.

Georgetown filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that Spaeth’s online résumé did not reveal any interest or experience in producing the kind of original legal research and scholarship that Georgetown and other top-tier law schools required.

Spaeth countered that Georgetown had no written requirement that scholarship weighed heavily — or outweighed — teaching and service.

However, District Judge Ellen Huvelle said that the lack of a written requirement was irrelevant. She said there was no need to put in writing what everyone knew: that scholarship was — for better or worse — one of the overriding concerns among elite law schools in making hiring decisions.

She recognized that Spaeth strongly felt that law students should be taught by practitioners instead of academics. However, she said that he could not dispute that scholarship was indeed a primary focus of law schools when hiring faculty members, and she refused to interfere with the university’s priorities.

Judge Huvelle found that Spaeth did not demonstrate the necessary qualifications for an entry-level tenure-track position at Georgetown because he had no record of scholarly work and had not shown a potential for producing such work in the future.

She granted summary judgment in favor of the university.

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  • Meet the Editor

    Joan Hope
    Managing Editor

    Joan Hope became editor of Dean & Provost in 2007. She brings years of experience in higher education and journalism to her work. She has taught writing and literature courses for eight years at colleges and universities including Indiana University at Bloomington, Clark University, and Houston Community College
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