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The American Faculty

The Restructuring of Academic Work and Careers

Jack H. Schuster and Martin J. Finkelstein

Publication Year: 2006

Higher education is becoming destabilized in the face of extraordinarily rapid change. The composition of the academy's most valuable asset—the faculty—and the essential nature of faculty work are being transformed. Jack H. Schuster and Martin J. Finkelstein describe the transformation of the American faculty in the most extensive and ambitious analysis of the American academic profession undertaken in a generation. A century ago the American research university emerged as a new organizational form animated by the professionalized, discipline-based scholar. The research university model persisted through two world wars and greatly varying economic conditions. In recent years, however, a new order has surfaced, organized around a globalized, knowledge-based economy, powerful privatization and market forces, and stunning new information technologies. These developments have transformed the higher education enterprise in ways barely imaginable in generations past. At the heart of that transformation, but largely invisible, has been a restructuring of academic appointments, academic work, and academic careers—a reconfiguring widely decried but heretofore inadequately described. This volume depicts the scope and depth of the transformation, combing empirical data drawn from three decades of national higher education surveys. The authors' portrait, at once startling and disturbing, provides the context for interpreting these developments as part of a larger structural evolution of the national higher education system. They outline the stakes for the nation and the challenging work to be done.

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press


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pp. v-vi

List of Tables and Figures

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pp. vii-xiii

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Preface to the Paperback Edition

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pp. xv-xvii

In 2006, we acknowledged with some consternation that the publication schedule for The American Faculty required that the original hardcover release go to press with some significant, but unavoidable, data gaps. Neither the 2005 Fall Staff Survey data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) nor the fully vetted data file for the 2004 National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF) were available at that time. The three-decade trendlines ...

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pp. xix-25

The Project on the Future of the American Faculty and the long-standing collaboration of the authors of this volume can trace their origins back two decades. As Howard Bowen and Jack Schuster were designing the campus-visit component of the multifaceted study that ultimately yielded American Professors (Oxford University Press, 1986), it became apparent that it would be beneficial— ...

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pp. xxv-xxvii

A project of this duration and complexity owes much to many: funders, support staff, academic and administrative colleagues qua facilitators, graduate students (functioning, as good ones do, as teacher-scholars as well as students), family, and, not least, our ever-patient publisher who kept the faith throughout this lengthy process. ...


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1. Establishing the Framework

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pp. 3-18

We take as our point of departure a bold and unqualified assertion: American higher education and the academic profession that serve it are on the edge of an unprecedented restructuring that is changing the face—indeed, even the very meaning—of higher learning. Higher education, of course, has always been in transition. At a fundamental level, the knowledge base that higher education ...

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2. The American Faculty in Perspective

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pp. 19-36

The turbulent environmental forces challenging the higher education enterprise in the closing decade of the twentieth century include, most tangibly, changes in the composition of the faculty and the nature of their appointments, in the makeup and preparation of student bodies, and in the resources available to higher education; less tangible (but no less momentous) changes have occurred in public expectations for higher education and in the technologies that ...

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3. The Professoriate in Profile

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pp. 37-71

The face of America’s corps of college and university teachers has changed continually and dynamically over the centuries, reflecting the ever-evolving and expanding purposes of the nation’s higher education system. During the past three decades, this expansion in terms of size and complexity has occurred at a decidedly accelerated rate. Toward the outset of our time frame, the American ...


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4. The Changing Complexion of Faculty Work

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pp. 75-124

The general pressures on American higher education over the past decade to reduce costs and expand faculty productivity have translated into imperatives for faculty to do “more”—especially to ratchet up efforts that contribute directly to the improvement of undergraduate education. In other words, the heat has been turned up to refocus faculty attention on student learning and thereby ...

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5.Academic Culture and Values and the Quality of Work Life

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pp. 125-158

For three decades now, much has been made of the growing diversification of the faculty—a development universally acknowledged and widely applauded. The evidence of this substantial change is spread across chapter 3. Arguably, that demographic transformation, in both magnitude and pace, has no equivalent in the near-millennium span of higher education history. Historically, academics have shown themselves to be notoriously “normative” creatures. ...


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6. The Changing Academic Career

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pp. 161-190

We have argued that the modern academic career, characterized by its exclusivity, its specialization, and its professionalization, became increasingly routinized following World War II after nearly a century of evolutionary transition. An ever more formalized “lockstep” from graduate study (meaning, more and more, the doctorate) into a first full-time position was followed by ...

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7. The Revolution in Academic Appointments: A Closer Look

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pp. 190-233

Of the two most significant developments in recent years that have been reshaping academic work and careers, one is obvious and ubiquitous: the technological revolution that permeates the academy. Its effects already are profound. Furthermore, instructional technology indisputably will continue to transform how academic work is done and, though less obviously, will affect ...

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8. Compensation and Academic Careers: Trends and Issues

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pp. 234-286

The condition of the American professoriate and prospects for its future are a function of many elements. Among them, the changing patterns of faculty compensation constitute one of the basic—and most intriguing—factors that now shape, and will continue to mold, the academic experience. As we examine in this chapter many aspects of the academic reward structure, we highlight ...

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9. Pathways to the Professoriate

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pp. 287-320

We have analyzed through many different lenses the developments and trends that have affected the quality of academic life. Some of those developments, moderately improved compensation, for instance, presumably have made the prospect of an academic career marginally more attractive (chapter 8). Other developments, such as the shrinkage in the proportion of academic appointments that serve as the gateway to traditional, relatively secure academic ...


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10. American Academic Life Restructured

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pp. 323-345

The foregoing analysis has painted a grounded portrait of a complex enterprise— the sprawling domain of American higher education—and of an academic profession in rapid transformation. The evidence suggests not only an arguably unprecedented rate of change but also dimensions of a restructured sector that are already in place—with much more change likely to unfold in the ...

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11. What’s Ahead? Agendas for Policy Analysis, Research, and Action on Academic Staffing

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pp. 346-364

We began with the observation that American higher education—and higher education throughout most of the rest of the world—is undergoing a swift and sweeping transformation. The pace and scope of change, across so many basic features of higher education, is, we contend, unprecedented. And we believe that these changes are taking place at such a rapid rate that it is difficult to “keep ...


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pp. 365-538


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pp. 539-556


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pp. 557-569

E-ISBN-13: 9781421402079
E-ISBN-10: 1421402076
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801891038
Print-ISBN-10: 0801891035

Page Count: 600
Illustrations: 37 line drawings
Publication Year: 2006