The Faculty in the New Millennium: Introduction to a Special JHE Issue

Journal of Higher Education, January 2002 | Go to article overview

The Faculty in the New Millennium: Introduction to a Special JHE Issue


This special issue explores the changing nature of postsecondary education faculty and their work as we enter the next millennium. Societal shifts affecting or potentially affecting academic work--diversity, technology, and globalization--comprise one set of topics in this issue. Another set of topics seems more traditional in focus but has been recast here in interesting and potentially quite different ways than previously examined. Particularly relevant are the evolution toward more directive state (and institutional) policies about faculty work, the changing nature of faculty work and how it compares with emerging institutional and societal needs, preparing new faculty for the new millennium, and understanding faculty communities and how they affect faculty work.

In this volume Colbeck uses qualitative data collected over three years from institutions in the states of Tennessee and Ohio to examine the effects of state policies meant to encourage faculty commitment to teaching. She describes how these policies actually affect (or do not affect) faculty work and tells us why they work (or do not). Fairweather uses national survey data to examine the mythologies of faculty work and how they affect teaching and research. He employs a promotion-and-tenure type of decision-making model in this analysis, paying particular attention to the commonly held belief that faculty can (and are) simultaneously productive in teaching and research. Leslie uses national survey data to describe the values held by the faculty in various types of institutions and disciplines, using Burton Clark's treatise on disciplinary and institutional communities as a guide. Leslie pays particular attention to forces pushing for homogeneity (e.g., status, scholarship) versus the very real differences a mong different disciplines, genders, and races within the faculty at each college campus. Turner uses extensive qualitative data and personal narratives to describe the conflicting pressures facing faculty women of color. Turner contrasts the apparently enviable position in the external labor market (high demand, low supply) with the often less enviable internal labor market pressures to focus on work potentially harmful to career development, that is, service- and teaching-related work in an era when research counts the most.

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