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Expectations and Reality in American Higher Education

At best, its celebration is conveyed by the 1954 Norman Rockwell painting
Breaking Home Ties, which appeared as the cover on the Saturday Evening Post: a
young man with his suitcase sits on the running board of the family Ford Model T
as he bids farewell to his grizzled farmer father—and heads for the state college. Its
comparable to the theme that attracted historian Frederick Rudolph who wrote in
‘State College would come to have as homely and honest a ring about it as any
of the numerous institutions associated with agrarian America. State Fair. Fourth
of July picnic. Church social. Saturday night in town. None of these came any clos-
er than ‘State College’ in evoking an appreciation of wholesome, rural values—
belief in individualism and opportunity is deeply
ingrained in the American character. Anyone, the
litany goes, has a chance to make a fortune, ascend
the corporate ladder, gain election to public office, hit a home run, or earn a college
degree if only he or she will draw on a combination of talent and dedication. But
the sobering truth is that our life choices more often than not are mere probabili-
ties shaped by collective forces outside our control. Historical timing, age, gender,
religion, race, ethnicity, and family background are just a few variables that inter-
vene with individual efforts and aspirations. Nowhere is this clash of democratic
dreams and demographic realities more evident than in the American saga of high-
er education and social mobility.
Expectations and
Reality in American
Higher Education
by John R. Thelin
John R. Thelin is a university research professor at the University of Kentucky, a member of the
ational Policy Studies Department, and recipient of the 2006 Provosts University Teaching
Award. An alumnus of Brown University and a member of Phi Beta Kappa, his MA and Ph.D.
are from the University of California, Berkeley. He received the American Educational Research
Associations award for Exemplary Research in Higher Education in 2007 and is author of A
History of American Higher Education (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004).
T&AFall07-j-thelin-SF 10/31/07 7:52 AM Page 59
SPECIAL FOCUS: Will the Past Define the Future?
clean, hard-working, honest young men and women, determined to live good lives
in a good world, gone down or up to the state college, there to broaden their hori-
zons and to perfect their ingrained common sense.
Nor is this theme confined to the heritage of rural Americana. Here, in a
reverse twist from the land-grant celebration, the failure to provide higher educa-
tion access to urban immigrants in the early 20th century was cast as a costly social
injustice—a loss of human capital both to individuals and the nation. This dire
message was conveyed graphically in a 1976 fund raising poster featuring a forlorn
young factory worker in New York City:
Sixty years ago, you didn’t need a college education. . . . The story of woe, due
to the lack of opportunity to go to college, was that, in fact, you didn’t much of any-
thing except a willingness to work 16 hours a day. . . . For 8 cents an hour. Under
brutal conditions. . . . But times have changed drastically. . . . Give to the college
of your choice. Now!”
These examples—one optimistic, one cautionary—suggest the importance of
our belief in college as a source of up
ward mobility. And, as Americans, our atti-
tude toward the growth and expansion of colleges and universities usually has been
one of “Great Expectations.” But the painful corollary is that this optimism has
often been followed by disappointment that those expectations were not com-
y fulfil
It is this sweet-and-sour co
n that characterizes our
national attitude toward higher education.
aking sense out of five centuries of American higher education in order to
nnect the past and pr
esent is no easy task, especially in a relatively short
y. My approach is to focus first on students and “going to college” from the
17th to 21st centuries. Then, I will attempt to interpret this story from the histor-
ical perspectives of the American academic profession. Its not a complete grasp of
higher educ
n—but it is a signific
ant str
The saga of individualism v
institutions has an underlying optimism in the nations wish to serve students that
competes with a public reluctance to invest in a robust academic profession to
y out this c
harge appr
opriately. So, to paraphrase Bette Davis in the 1950
Hollywood movie,
All About Eve, as we begin the fantastic voyage of American
higher educ
ation, “Fasten your seat belts! Its going to be a bumpy night!”
As Americans, our attitude toward the growth and
expansion of colleges and universities usually has
been one of Great Expectations.’
T&AFall07-j-thelin-SF 10/31/07 7:52 AM Page 60
he statistical profile of undergraduate enrollments over almost 400 years pro-
vides an alluring, albeit deceptively smooth, pattern of growth, a trajectory that
suggests a national success story of expanding access. As sociologist Martin Trow
wrote in
Daedalus in 1970, within the 20th century “going to college” was trans-
formed from an elite experience for less than 5 percent of late adolescent
Americans to “mass higher education in which about 30 percent to 40 percent of
young Americans enrolled in college. And, more recently, around 1970, there
dawned an era in which the national commitment was to universal higher educa-
In other words a diverse array of postsecondary institutions—including a rel-
ative new entity, the public community college—was able to accommodate about
70 percent of traditional high school age graduates. In the past quarter century,
this typology has been dramatically altered by expansion of what are characterized
as non-traditional” students—students older than the conventional 18- to 21-
year-old cohort that has proceeded directly from high school to college. The
remarkable percentage gains are enhanced by the demographic fact that they have
been achieved while the population was expanding.
hat the statistical trajectory masks, however, is that the enrollments are
marked by potholes and detours, especially when one disaggregates the
gross data. Taken as a whole, American higher education has been reasonably suc-
cessful in expanding student access to higher education—but does less well in ful-
filling student choice. The latter phenomenon has meant access has been accom-
panied by students experiencing exclusion, discrimination, tracking, legal segrega-
high pr
and lac
k of information. Also uneven is the effectiveness of
American colleges to educate students, as suggested by low rates of retention and
n. Starting in the early 19th century, access to higher education was
gained piecemeal, as various special interest groups simply founded colleges to
serve their specific constituency. The result was a patchwork of separate but not
necessarily equal colleges.
n and ethnicit
y of
ten o
lapped in the col
lege building boo
m, as one
finds Presbyterian colleges serving primarily children of Scotch-Irish immigrants.
Lutheran campuses geared to German and Scandinavian families, Catholic col-
leges enr
ling pr
imarily students of Irish, Italian, and Slavic descent. Methodists
and Baptists created their academic and denominational sanctuaries, usually fol-
wed by doctrinal feuds and more splintering into colleges for the disaffected.
American higher education has been reasonably
successful in expanding access to higher education—
but does less well in fulfilling student choice.
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SPECIAL FOCUS: Will the Past Define the Future?
orthern philanthropies and the second Morrill Act (1890) fostered what we
now call the “Historically Black Colleges and Universities.” In the mid-19th cen-
tury, the establishment of womens colleges provided some access for higher edu-
cation regardless of gender—and ultimately would be supplemented by co-educa-
tion of the sexes. At times, the customary self-selection and balances broke down,
illustrated by the imposition of quotas on Jews at historic East Coast universities
in the 1920s.
In sum, there was some accommodation without complete integra-
tion within a diverse, educationally ambitious population.
m going to go out on a limb and offer, at least as an hypothesis, that over most
of American history, our colleges, universities, and related postsecondary insti-
tutions have been an over-built and under-funded enterprise. Until the end of
World War II most colleges scrambled to enroll an adequate number of paying
students who could pass the requisite entrance examination and demonstrate the
potential to do what each college considered to be tolerable academic work.
Furthermore, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, most college officials worked to
keep tuition charges low. The price of college at most institutions was not out-
landish. The impediment was that any charge for tuition, whether $1 or $100, was
yond the r
each of most American families who depended on earnings from their
childrens early entrance into the labor force. Also, in trying to figure out why
many young Americans did not go to college, its important to note that along
with exclusion and discrimination, there were other attractions. Few occupations
required a college degree. Even medicine and law relied on apprenticeships and
had minimal, haphazard licensure requirements. The challenge, then, is to recon-
cile these historical details with the statistical profile—in other words, to trans-
form the quantitative data into a qualitative interpretation of college going.
T&AFall07-j-thelin-SF 10/31/07 7:52 AM Page 62
t times higher education in the United States has been an over-built enter-
prise due, paradoxically, to the high esteem in which it was held by Americans.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the college building boom of the 19th centu-
ry where hundreds of communities considered a new campus to be a source of
instant civic or state pride. In the colonial-royal era, a college charter was difficult
to obtain—and included the compact that the host government assumed a respon-
sibility to provide regular funding. For signs of a world turned upside down, one has
only to look at college founding after 1785. Under the auspices of state (not feder-
al) government, the norm—especially in the new states of the West and South—
was that a college charter was easy to obtain. However, state legislatures showed lit-
tle responsibility to bestow annual funding.The consequence was a proliferation of
new colleges whose endowments and enrollments were small. Running a college
was a year-by-year venture. This instilled in the college president and boards a
strong awareness of what today we call student consumerism.” It meant that enter-
prising colleges were apt to introduce new courses of study such as engineering, sci-
ences, or commerce to appeal to prospective students who had little interest in clas-
al studies. Clearly, col
leges faced a challenge in attracting a critical mass of ade-
y prepared students bec
ause most states and communities were slow to exhib-
it much commitment to building a strong foundation of elementary or secondary
schools. So, colleges were America’s peculiar institution in that they usually were
opened prior to availability of a reliable source of nearby high school graduates.
he idyllic American depiction of collegiate learning was captured by U.S.
esident James Gar
s nostalgia for his undergraduate days at Williams
College: the college president as a teacher on one end of the log, the student on
the other
y, the metaphor quickly runs aground. It would be diffi-
cult for any college to afford a one to one” student-faculty ratio. More likely, one
would find dozens if not hundreds of students on one end of the collegiate log,
with a single instructor on the other. Parents and taxpayers may have waxed nos-
talgic about dedic
ated pr
essors and individualiz
ed attentio
n to students—but
few were willing to pay for such pedagogy.
Its not clear that small classes would have endeared undergraduates to college
studies if the
y wer
e available.
Most analysts of American higher education have
pointed out that college students and professors chronically avoided one another.
tudents created a world on their own terms in extracurricular activities, including
Colleges were America’s peculiar institution in that
they usually were opened prior to availability of a
reliable source of nearby high school graduates.
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SPECIAL FOCUS: Will the Past Define the Future?
iterary societies, debating clubs, athletics, and a system of fraternities and sorori-
ties. Woodrow Wilson as president of Princeton conceded, “So far as the colleges
go, the sideshows have swallowed up the circus and we in the main tent do not
know what is going on.”
Why was this so? Historian Laurence Veysey has pointed out that even in the
heroic age of university building between 1870 and 1910, the American campus was
characterized by a “gulf between students and faculty.”
Sociologists Christopher
Jencks and David Riesman concluded that a “war between the generations” created
enduring tension between teachers and taught, whether in 1768 or 1968.
The late
19th century was considered a golden age of student pranks,” where a class recita-
tion was dominated by a “hidden curriculum as students and instructors continual-
ly tried to outwit the other—with the assigned translations or mathematics problems
really being incidental to the larger stakes of student-faculty jousts.
Yale students
took pride in low scholarship. The class of 1904 boasted more gentlemen and fewer
scholars than any other class in the memory of man.”
The Class of 1905 countered with the claim:
Never since the Heavenly Host With all the Titans fought Saw they a class
whose scholarship Approached so close to naught!
n contrast to the continual skullduggery in the battles between teachers and
students, since 1920, the usual resolution has been a truce in which college stu-
dents and facult
y acquiesced to be civil within c
efully defined limits. Sociologist
d Shills recalled a typical undergraduate class at the University of
Pennsylvania in the 1930s:
The c
lasses wer
e not large
, yet there was no discussion. No questions were
raised in class, and there were no office hours. Students were addressed—if they
were addressed at all—by their surnames . . . I cannot recall ever having heard of a
student who had been invited to the home of a teacher. . . It all worked fairly well.
The students did not complain about the distance between themselves and their
teachers. The teachers kept to themsel
es and so did the students.
One latent function of the elective system of the early 20th century was that
it allowed professors to offer specialized courses in their favorite topics. At the
same time
aduates wer
e free to choose on any basis, ranging from intel-
lectual interest to scheduling convenience. As Robert Benchley recalled from his
s at Harvard College:
Yale students took pride in low scholarship.The class
of 1904 boasted more gentlemen and fewer scholars
than any other class in the memory of man.’
T&AFall07-j-thelin-SF 10/31/07 7:52 AM Page 64
My college education was no haphazard affair. My courses were all selected
with a very definite aim in view, with a serious purpose in mind—no classes before
eleven in the morning or after two-thirty in the afternoon, and nothing on Saturday
at all. That was my slogan. On that rock was my education built. As what is known
as the Classical Course involved practically no afternoon laboratory work, whereas
in the Scientific Course a mans time was never his own until four p.m. anyway, I
went in for the classic. But only such classics as allowed for a good sleep in the
morning. There is such a thing as being a studying fool.
hen students and faculty were required to meet, it was painful for both, as
conveyed by memoirs about (ugh!) advising sessions. James Thurber
led his freshman orientation at Ohio State University as a blur of swimming
tests, ROTC drill, and failed botany labs. All this led his advisors to cry out, You
are the main trouble with this university!” Thurber reflected, “I think he meant
that my type was the trouble with the universit
y but he may have meant me indi-
Thurber was in g
ood company of indifferent or bewildered students,
many of whom left the university without completing a degree.
Advising was seen by most professors as a thankless obligatio
n. George Boas,
writing in
Harpers magazine in 1930, recalled meetings with new students:
Here they come. . . His name is Rosburg Van Stiew. One can see he is one of
the Van Stiews—and if one cant, hell let one know soon enough. . . . Already he
has the Phi Pho Phum pledge button in his buttonhole. . . . Very well, Mr. Van
Stiew. Have you any idea of the course you’d like to take?’
‘No . . . arent there some things you sort of have to take?’
Freshman English and Gym.’
ell, I may as well take them.’
Do y
ou hav
e to?’
‘No, you can take Philosophy, Political Science, or Economics instead.’
Mr. Van Stiew tightens his cravat.
uess I
l take Histor
Ancient or Modern?’
Well—when do they come?’
‘Modern at 8:30, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays; Ancient at 9:30,
ndays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.
‘Oh, Ancient.’
an S
tiew looks shocked that one should have asked.
James Thurber recalled his freshman orientation at
Ohio State University as a blur of swimming tests,
ROTC drill, and failed botany labs.
T&AFall07-j-thelin-SF 10/31/07 7:52 AM Page 65
SPECIAL FOCUS: Will the Past Define the Future?
f professors were viewed by the college administration and the American
public as the hired help for the main event of collegiate student life, it was a role
not without some rewards. A professor enjoyed respect as part of the local estab-
lishment. Compensation was middling, yet varied greatly from one institution to
another. In late 19th century liberal arts colleges in Pennsylvania and New Jersey,
professors were paid fairly well, bought comfortable houses near campus, and—
wonder of wonders—it was an era when even some professors and their families
had servants!
Elsewhere, especially in the rural colleges of the Midwest and
South, the academic life was grim, characterized by low salaries, high teaching
loads, and attendance at numerous college events. When the editor of
in 1905 featured a muckraking series on “Undistinguished
Americans,” he included the plight of the wife of a professor at a small college in
Kansas along with sympathetic profiles of hardship for a coal miner, a sweatshop
girl in a garment factory, oppressed workers in the South, and abused immigrant
In sum, the status of the academic profession in the United States
remained uneven and uncer
tain at best well into the 20th century.
he literary anecdotes and memoirs about the gap between college students
and faculty make more sense when discussed in the context of quantitative
data sets. My premise is that the tensions or mismatches between the undergrad-
uate cohort and the academic profession are due in part to their markedly con-
trasting and largely inescapable dynamics.The foremost disparity between the sta-
al patter
ns of student enr
lments and facult
y hiring is that the two groups
display markedly different life cycles in how long each is a member of the college
unity. A college student generation is about four to six years. In contrast, a
professor who is hired—especially in something approximating a vocation and
career path—typically represents about a 20- to 30-year commitment between the
institution and the individual. When the respective patterns for undergraduates
and facult
y ar
e o
ne c
an see r
eadily how difficult it is to mesh the supply-
and-demand of both groups at the same time. And, since most colleges rely on
students’ tuition payments, faculty have tended to be the malleable or expendable
oup in making per
iodic adjustments.
The era in which faculty most shared with students the ethos of “Great
ns” was after World War II—especially from about 1958 to 1972. This
Especially in the rural colleges of the Midwest and
South, the academic life was grim, characterized by
low salaries and high teaching loads.
T&AFall07-j-thelin-SF 10/31/07 7:52 AM Page 66
rofessional optimism was fueled by the warning by some economists in the late
1940s that the United States’s expanded commitment to higher education was
going create of a severe shortfall in the supply of qualified Ph.D.s to fill anticipat-
ed new professorial appointments nationwide. The coincidence of rising curves
both for student enrollments and faculty hiring started around 1957 and peaked
in 1972.
This period of growth in terms of construction, campus expansion,
research grants, and student financial aid, however, did not continue indefinitely.
Starting in 1973–74 college enrollments faced decline due to, again, demographic
factors beyond the control of either the academic profession or their universities—
a drop in the actual number of high school graduates combined with inter-region-
al migration out of areas where large numbers of colleges were located. This was
exacerbated by the discovery that a dwindling percentage of high school graduates
were opting to go to college. Also, the end of the military draft meant that college
lost its appeal as a sanctuary. In contrast to the demand for new facilities and fac-
ulty in 1965, colleges were over-built—and faculty hiring, except in a few new
fields, dried up.
good illustration of this sudden reversal of fortunes—and expectations—
within the ranks of professors is illustrated by sociologist Christopher Jencks
and David Riesmans monumental book,
The Academic Revolution. Published in
1968, its title unwittingly provided a snapshot of a drastic shift in directions and
attitudes toward higher education. Based on research conducted over a decade, the
book was intended to herald the long-awaited triumph of the American professo-
iate and its har
d-fought gains in acquir
ing r
espect and influence within A
society. It was, as the title suggested, no less than an “academic revolution in
h pr
ofessors (finally) had gained a foothold in the establishment as respected
experts who were also well paid and whose evaluations of students were conse-
quential in the hiring decisions of employers. Tenure, rights of academic freedom,
and opportunities for research and graduate-level work further characterized this
idea of facult
y co
ming of age as an established pr
by the time the
book went to press, the term “academic revolution suddenly brought to mind for
the American public an entirely different vocabulary and set of images of student
campus rebellion, and chaos. Whatever gains the faculty had made, many
of them had been neutralized as perceptions shifted to the campus as a national
Starting in 1973–74 college enrollments faced decline
due to demographic factors beyond the control of
either the academic profession or their universities.
T&AFall07-j-thelin-SF 10/31/07 7:52 AM Page 67
SPECIAL FOCUS: Will the Past Define the Future?
eyond the tensions of these two contrasting academic revolutions,” there is
another, more persistent tension between undergraduate admissions and faculty
hiring that makes institutional change difficult. Consider its implications for
attempts to reform configurations of gender and higher education. Since about
1970, the percentage of women law students and medical students has risen
steadily from less than 5 percent to about 45 percent to 55 percent—a substantial
gain in three decades. Meanwhile, the percentage of women who hold tenured fac-
ulty positions in medicine and law lags far behind these enrollment percentages.
Why? In part, faculty inertia and outright gender discrimination tell the story. But
there also is a demographic factor related to historic timing. Most universities had
exhausted the majority of their tenure track lines with robust hiring by 1972. This
meant that there would be relatively little fresh faculty hiring for several decades,
if one accepts the premise that a tenure-track and then tenured professor holds a
position for 20 to 30 years. Meanwhile, established doctoral programs continued
to send new Ph.D.s into an academic market that had virtually collapsed. Consider
the 1980 study by sociologists N
eil Smelser and Robin Content o
n the academic
ket place of 1975–76, in which four junior facult
y vacancies in sociology at the
University of California, Berkeley attracted 285 applicants.
Demography and
timing, not talent, limited the life choices of a new generation of scholars, most of
whose expectations were shaped as graduate students in the 1960s. Now, articles
n the
aying of the faculty” and the glut of tenured professors surfaced in aca-
demic journals and the popular press.
y Burgin
s 2006 book,
ever Happened to the Faculty?
vides a fitting
transition into a postscript on decreasing influence of American professors in cam-
pus governance since the 1970s.
Fortunately, in recent years we also have the ben-
efit of outstanding systematic analyses of the changing professoriate in studies by
such scholars as Jack Schuster, Howard Bowen, Martin Finklestein, Robert Seal,
Roger Baldwin, Jay Chronister, and other colleagues.
Their studies are good—
but most of the news is not. In the early 21st century, the American faculty is
defused and dispersed.
ot o
nly does this snapshot emerge from the large scale
data sets, it also surfaces in observations of the typical American campus.
Socialization into citizenship of the academic life does not appear to be especially
effective. Symptomatic of this disconnection is a demise of the “faculty club.” It
parallels the disintegration of such organizations as the American Legion or the
Demography and timing, not talent, limited the life
choices of a new generation of scholars, most of whose
expectations were shaped in the1960s.
T&AFall07-j-thelin-SF 10/31/07 7:52 AM Page 68
lks Lodge, which enjoyed high participation by a generation who came of age as
adults and professionals 1950s. My observation is that a new generation of profes-
sors have stopped joining the faculty club.
Once a source of camaraderie and fel-
lowship in the center of campus, these clubs have lost connection with new facul-
ty—and often survive only by having transformed themselves into social centers
for alumni, donors, and administrators. Meanwhile, in faculty hiring, the notion of
a full-time, tenure track professor whose role combines teaching, research, and
service has lost ground. A rising proportion of new faculty appointments are as
adjuncts, part-time instructors, clinical faculty, and grant project researchers.
Creation of new administrative positions abound—suggesting that it was a man-
agerial revolution of the 1960s that prevailed more so than did Jencks and
Riesmans depiction of an academic revolution.” Some of these changes bring new
expertise and flexibility within the American university. At the same time such
innovations extract a price. The historical legacy for our times is that fulfilling the
ideal of what might be termed “the compleat professor that offered great expec-
tations less than a half century ago is increasingly faint, pushed from the center to
the margins of the A
ican college and univ
Frederick Rudolph, The American College and University: A History (New York: Knopf, 1962),
Council for Financial Aid to Education, Inc. and The Advertising Council poster (1976).
Martin Trow, Reflections on the Transformation from Elite to Mass to Universal Higher
Daedalus 99 (Winter 1970), 1-42.
Christopher Jencks and David Riesman, The Academic Revolution (Garden City, New York:
Doubleday, 1968), 316.
Marcia Graham Synnott, The Half-Opened Door: Discrimination and Admissions at Harvard,
Yale, and Princeton, 1900-1970 (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1979).
Frederick Rudolph, The American College and University: A History (New York: Knopf, 1962),
Woodrow Wilson, quoted in Edwin E. Slosson, Great American Universities (New York:
MacMillan, 1910), 506.
Laurence R. Veysey, The Emergence of the American University (Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 1965), 284-301.
her Jencks and David Riesman,
The Ac
demic Revolution
den Cit
y, New York:
Doubleday, 1968), 28-60.
Henry Seidel Canby, Alma Mater: The Gothic Age of the American College (New York: Farrar and
t, 1936).
d Shils,
The Univ
y: A Backward Glance,”
The A
ican Sc
y 1982), 165-
Robert Benchley, What College Did To Me,” in The Early Bird (New York: Henry Holt and
Company, 1927) n.p.
James Thurber, “University Days,” in A.C. Spectorsky, Editor, The College Years (New York:
thorn, 1958),
T&AFall07-j-thelin-SF 10/31/07 7:52 AM Page 69
George Boas, Freshman Adviser,” Harper’s magazine (1930) reprinted in A.C. Spectorsky,
Editor, The College Years (New York: Hawthorn, 1958), 101-104.
W. Bruce Leslie, When Professors Had Servants,” in Gentlemen & Scholars: College and
Community in the ‘Age of the University’
(Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press,
amilton Holt, A College Professor’s Wife,”
he Independent
9 (30 November 1905), 1279-
1283; cf., David M.
Katzmeier and William F. Tuttle, Plain Folk: The Life Stories of
Undistinguished Americans
(Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982), 82-96.
Dorothy E. Finnegan, “Segmentation in the Academic Labor Market: Hiring Cohorts in
omprehensive Universities,”
ournal of Higher Education
4, no. 6 (November-December
1993), 621-656.
Neil J. Smelser with Robin Content, The Changing Academic Marketplace: General Trends and a
Berkeley Case Study
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980).
Mary Burgan, What Ever Happened to the Faculty?: Drift and Decision in Higher Education
(Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006).
A few examples of influential works include Howard R. Bowen and Jack H. Schuster, The
merican Professoriate: A National Resource Imperiled
ew York and London: Oxford University
Press, 1986); Martin J. Finklestein,
The Academic Profession:The Professoriate in Crisis (London:
Routledge, 1997); Roger G. Baldwin and Jay Chronister,
Teaching Without Tenure: Policies and
Practices for a New Era
(Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002); Martin
J. Finklestein, Robert Seal, and Jack H. Schuster,
The New Academic Generation: A Profession in
(Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998).
Alison Schneider, Empty Tables at the Faculty Club Worry Some Academics,” The Chronicle
of Higher Education
(June 13, 1997), A12.
SPECIAL FOCUS: Will the Past Define the Future?
T&AFall07-j-thelin-SF 10/31/07 7:52 AM Page 70
... As more educational leaders are trained according to this principle it is likely that access to higher education will continue to become more equitable. Thelin (2007Thelin ( , 2013 also indicates that increasing enrollment does not imply quality of education or parallel increases in completion rates. Thelin explains that while post 1960's master plans were good at enrolling students, the plans lacked form and process guidance for inducing sound educational experiences. ...
... Past forces such as the industrialization era and the post World War II economic era have certainly shaped directions in higher education (Thelin, 2007(Thelin, , 2013. Likewise, the current era of globalization is transforming higher education and influencing trends such as growth in doctoral completion rates. ...
... Trying to keep pace, universities are reacting by adding contingent labor i.e. non-tenuretrack faculty. Thelin's (2007) history of higher education essay noted a developing rise in hiring adjuncts, part-time instructors, clinical faculty, and grant project researchers along with a reduction in hiring tenure track professors. By 2011, 50 percent of U.S. faculty were on part-time status (Aud, Wilkinson-Flicker, Nachazel, & Dziuba, 2013). ...
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Researchers affiliated with education PhD programs in Australia and New Zealand, and an education EdD program in the United States aimed to enhance understanding of contemporary education doctorate approaches and challenges. The central research question was: What knowledge will emerge regarding education doctoral programs through the lens of globalization? Using a descriptive interpretive research paradigm, collaborators determined that although education doctorate approaches vary, skills developed are similar. As researchers are increasingly viewed as strategic assets, access to quality education is essential. Doctoral program planners must attend to the paradigm shift away from traditional apprenticeship supervision pedagogy to structured and standardized approaches. For sustainability, online education must be integrated into doctoral programs, while ensuring faculty are trained in distance education theory and best practices. As growth in doctoral enrollments drives the need for more faculty, program planners must also aim to solve related problems of contingent academic labor.
... American Higher Education initiated as seminaries to train a Christian clergy (Thelin, 2011). Starting in the 19th and early 20th centuries, religion and ethnicity often overlapped with Presbyterian colleges serving Scotch-Irish immigrants, Lutheran campuses primarily served children from German and Scandinavian families, Catholic colleges for Irish, Italian, and Slavic students along with Methodists and Baptists building their academic and denominational sanctuaries (Thelin, 2007). Higher education reached its zenith in America, building on the Reformation and Post-Reformation period emphasis of education within the context of a Christian worldview (Dockery, 2000). ...
The integration of faith and learning (IFL) is an integral part of Christian higher education. The recent years have seen a spate in published studies testifying to an intense pursuit of meaningful IFL by many institutions of Christian higher education. However, little scholarship has been devoted to explore the influence of faith integration in science and its effect on the spiritual growth of students. A private, Christian university in the Southwest United States, has integrated the Christian worldview (CWV) in at least 30% of courses in college programs. Instilling the core Christian convictions into each student’s total college life has been one of the distinctive tasks of the University. The purpose of this study is twofold: (1) to understand how CWV develops in Biology and (2) how IFL affects the personal faith of students. The data was collected, over a period of three consecutive years 2016 to 2018, from students preparing for Health Care and Science careers. Using the survey design with open-ended questions, 489 participants provided responses to articulate the Christian worldview perspective of microorganisms and diseases. Findings reveal a positive impact of IFL on the personal faith of students. The results also indicate students demonstrating growth in their understanding of the biblical worldview within the context of Biology.
This paper critically assesses the potential of the liberal arts to contribute to accounting education in the USA. I argue that the contribution that these disciplines can make through current institutional structures is quite limited and highly conflicted. A proposal is made to extract the essential skills that are believed to be produced by the liberal arts. These could be re-embedded in an accounting education that featured the classic professionalism model as a conceptual centerpiece. Consequences of such an approach are extended and limitations are recognized.
In this provocative work, Mary Burgan surveys the deterioration of faculty influence in higher education. From campus planning, curriculum, and instructional technology to governance, pedagogy, and academic freedom, she urges far greater consideration for the perspective of the faculty. Burgan evokes the pervasive atmosphere of charge and counter-charge on U.S. campuses, where competition trumps reason not only in athletics but also in research, faculty recruitment, and fund-raising. Relating this "winner-take-all" mentality to the overspecialization of faculty and to overreliance on non-tenure track instructors, Burgan suggests that improving life on campus depends on faculty members' successful engagement with their administrative colleagues as well as their students. Informed by experience, fueled by conviction, and full of practical, strategic advice for the future, What Ever Happened to the Faculty? is an excellent resource for administrators and faculty who are eager to change the tone and trajectory of contemporary higher education. © 2006 by The Johns Hopkins University Press. All Rights Reserved.
A series of essays united by the broad theme of the faculty's role in American higher education, this book combines personal experience with analysis. Mary Burgan, professor emerita of English at Indiana University and former general secretary of the American Association of University Professors, writes with long experience in academe. Burgan's stance is quite critical of many of the trends in American higher education, including much of the distance education movement, the for-profits and the marketization of many aspects of higher education, the "winner take all" trends in faculty rewards and hiring, the attacks on tenure, and others. She is particularly concerned with the deleterious effects of these trends on the academic profession—the overarching concern of the book. Burgan is a traditional liberal and her perspectives reflect the overall approach of the AAUP. Given the domination of much of the debate on higher education by the perspectives reflected in the Spellings Commission report, it is heartening to have an alternative voice. Burgan's point of departure is, indeed, to defend traditional faculty values and to argue that much of the current criticism of academe is exaggerated, although she does present a generally balanced picture. She is critical of what she sees as a faculty "buy-in" to an increasingly competitive atmosphere on campus and to an overemphasis on research. She harks back to what she sees as a period of community on campus—a time when the faculty itself was more unified and when "shared governance" was the guiding principle of university management. What Ever Happened to the Faculty? focuses on some central themes. Burgan is a defender of the traditional liberal arts curriculum and, in a chapter on the curriculum, spends most of her time criticizing conservative commentators who have claimed that the curriculum has a politically liberal bias. She is also critical of the "managerialism" of university administration and argues that shared governance is a better approach: It keeps the faculty engaged in the problems that universities and colleges face rather than increasingly being spectators. A thoughtful chapter concerning online education critiques this new trend. Burgan argues that online instruction often removes any sense of community from the teaching-learning process, and she wonders about the quality of much of it. She points out that much money has been spent on less than successful online ventures and is uneasy about accreditors for so quickly and uncritically approving programs of all kinds without careful evaluation. She also points out the profit motive of many online ventures—not only of the for-profits that have been active in this field but also of some traditional universities that offer online degrees. Several chapters focus on traditional faculty issues—academic freedom, academic competition, and the growing number of part-time faculty. The issues discussed here—including a growing emphasis on "superstar" faculty while ignoring the rest, the commercialization of scientific research, and the tenure debate—have been discussed to some extent in the literature, but it is useful to have these issues brought together in a fairly comprehensive way. The book concludes with several positive case studies of colleges and universities that have put into place policies and practices showing that academic institutions can work effectively and still respect traditional academic values. What Ever Happened to the Faculty? is well written. Burgan writes with conviction and marshals a good deal of evidence to support her arguments. She also draws from her own long career in teaching and with the AAUP. The book is more of a series of essays than a closely argued, research-driven analysis. Many of these themes are more thoroughly analyzed in Jack Schuster and Martin Finkelstein's The American Faculty (2006). Burgan provides a nuanced liberal defense of American higher education and a critique of some of the arguments of the conservatives. But at the end, there is little new analysis here. The benefit of the book is its bringing together of key themes in the current debate and providing a spirited discussion.