Academic journal article Journal of Higher Education

For Richer, for Poorer: Faculty Morale in Periods of Austerity and Retrenchment

Academic journal article Journal of Higher Education

For Richer, for Poorer: Faculty Morale in Periods of Austerity and Retrenchment

Article excerpt

48. Hill, M. D. "Variations in Job Satisfaction among Higher Education Faculty in Unionized and Nonunionized Institutions in Pennsylvania." Journal of Collective Negotiations in the Public Sector, 11 (1982), 165-80.

49. -----. "A Theoretical Analysis of Faculty Job Satisfaction/Dissatisfaction." Educational Research Quarterly, 10 (1986/87), 36-44.

50. Hines, E. R. "Higher Education and State Governments: Renewed Partnership, Cooperation, or Competition?" ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report, no. 4. Washington, D.C.: George The great public universities reflect the investment citizens have made in building the commonwealth's educational and scientific infrastructure |61~.

In many states, facilities and courses have been cut, and students have been crowded out of classes.... Master teachers are being paid -- "bribed" is the word that comes to mind -- to retire early simply because the university needs their salaries. Programs that took 20 years to build are dissolving; some of the best, most respected administrators and teachers have gone elsewhere. Budget cuts have stripped the university bare, leaving it without money to keep up a decent research library, without money for building programs. Morale -- of students and faculty members -- is low |21~.

This article presents a case study of faculty morale and employment issues at an American public research university that has experienced an extended period of fiscal austerity. It sheds new light on how faculty compensation, job satisfaction, morale, and institutional commitment are influenced by changing institutional funding patterns -- patterns which reflect the widening gap between rich and poor segments of American society characterizing the 1980s and 1990s |20, 80~. These gaps are intensifying what Barbara Scott |93~ has called "the new academic stratification system."

Fiscal Strains in American Public Higher Education

As the United States entered the last decade of the twentieth century, much of American public higher education was facing profound economic uncertainty and financial retrenchment, forcing many institutions to eliminate academic programs and reduce academic personnel |4, 5~. This phenomenon is an outgrowth of state governments that are undergoing severe fiscal strains due to the volatile nature of the national economy |39, 42, 50, 51~. Recent stories in the Chronicle of Higher Education observe that over half the states faced serious financial deficits in the 1990-91 and 1991-92 fiscal years and have been forced to cut overall appropriations for public higher education |11, 17, 54, 72~. While some states experienced moderate financial growth in their higher education budgets during the 1980s, others saw periods of sharp decline in allocation of public resources, particularly for their academic institutions. In these latter states, additional cuts in public resources during the 1990s will significantly affect "core" programs in academic institutions which have few financial reserves to absorb further budget reductions.

One type of academic institution that has been particularly affected by changes in public higher education funding patterns is the public research university |93, 95, 98~. Because state governments historically have been the largest single source of revenue for public academic institutions, decreases in state funding have forced public research universities to raise increased shares of their resources through grants and contracts from corporations, other private funding agencies, and the federal government. This has resulted in a checkerboard funding pattern within institutions for various academic disciplines. While fields like business and the physical sciences have often been able to obtain alternative funding for research, many fields within the humanities, social sciences, education, and human services have been largely dependent upon the states' shrinking general funds. State economic development initiatives and private sector demands for increased research and development assistance are further widening the gulf between the "have" and "have not" disciplines in American public research universities |6, 96, 97~. …

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