Rethinking Faculty Work and Workplaces:
Higher Education’s Strategic Imperative
J. M. Gappa, A. E. Austin, and A. G. Trice
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass: 2007
This book is a call for renewed attention to the academic workplace and may benefit current and future academics to better position themselves for careers. The authors are experienced in higher education and base their conclusions on national databases, trend analysis, and feedback from advisory groups and administrators in academia.
Parts 1 and 2 describe the changing context of faculty work and workplaces including a basic shift in appointment patterns.
Tenure is no longer the universal model. Only 40% of total faculty are tenured or tenure-track. The majority of new faculty appointments are renewable contracts and fixed-term positions. Furthermore, higher education is increasingly pressured by demands for greater productivity and accountability from governing boards in the face of growing fiscal constraints. Based on these situational threats, the authors propose five elements to improve the academic workplace for faculty members, administrators, and students. Key recommendations include greater equity and flexibility in academic appointments along with better emphasis on professional growth and collegiality.
Both quantitative and qualitative evidence clearly indicates a relationship between tenure status and gender and ethnicity. Males are more likely than women to be tenured and tenure-track. As the number of dependents increases female total hours worked decrease even when women are holding full-time positions. This is not true of males. Further, as number of dependents increases females spend less time on research than males. While women find it nearly impossible to combine careers with bearing and rearing children, even male tenure-track faculty members find it difficult to balance personal and professional lives as academic expectations escalate. Ethnic and racial minority group faculty members report feeling isolated. They believe they are too heavily relied upon for service hours. All faculty members should be allowed to better balance their work-life priorities.
Tenure-track, contract-renewable, and fixed-term appointments all have significant problems. . The authors suggest new terminology for non-tenure track appointments and contract-renewable appointments, one example of which is full-time, non-tenure-track faculty members (FTNTT). The current tenure process lacks clear and rational guidelines and procedures. Shared governance accomplishments should be part of the criteria for renewal, tenure, and promotion. Standards of conduct and grievance procedures should cover every faculty appointment type. Administrative roles and responsibilities should be carefully delineated.
The authors conclude with a call to action to make every effort to enable faculty members to utilize their talents and skills and to facilitate student learning. This book is recommended for all administrators, especially provosts, deans, and department heads. It will also be useful for current faculty members and those considering academic careers--especially women and members of ethnic and racial minorities.
Margaret K. Snooks,
University of Houston--Clear Lake