Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

The Ontology of Scholar-Administrators: Empirical Inferences from Five Senior Administrators Who Published

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

The Ontology of Scholar-Administrators: Empirical Inferences from Five Senior Administrators Who Published

Article excerpt

While the purpose of scholarship can be characterized as helping "the field adapt to the context in which.. .it is practiced" (Allen, 2002, p. 147), there is a general lack of understanding of what it means to produce scholarship within higher education administration, due to higher education lacking a "tradition of administrator research paralleling teacher research" (Riehl, Larson, Short, & Reitzug, 2000, p. 399). Further, there is a widely held belief that administration and scholarship are two functions within higher education that cannot co-exist; faculty produce scholarship and administrators administrate, with never the two to meet (Riehl et al., 2000; Young, 2001). This mental divide between faculty, scholarship, and administration has resulted in what Riehl et al. (2000) described as "two distinct communities of practice" (p. 408): administrators who interact, communicate, and complete tasks and the contrasting academic researchers, whose community of practice is producing research. While Riehl et al. (2000) conceded that it was unlikely for the two communities of practice in education to ever combine, they believed that if scholarship were owned more explicitly by all stakeholders, then higher education would become more effective. During our literature review no published literature was identified concerning what it was like to produce scholarship as an administrator, and the literature available does not address the lived-experience of producing scholarship. Our study addresses this gap in extant knowledge by employing an ontological study of lived experiences of scholar-administrators who have published.

Literature Review

Beginning in the late 1920s and early 1930s specializations began to emerge in higher education administration, creating what eventually would become three broad, distinct areas within higher education administration: academic affairs, business affairs, and student affairs. While many different departments exist within higher education administration, most departments fall within the scope of one of the three previously mentioned areas of administration academic, student, or business affairs. Higher education administration has fine-grained definitions that date back to early 1900s. Eliot (1908) wrote:

   Anyone who makes himself familiar with all the branches of
   university administration in its numerous departments of teaching,
   in its financial and maintenance departments, its museums,
   laboratories, and libraries, in its extensive grounds and numerous
   buildings for various purposes, and in its social organization,
   will realize that the institution is properly named the university.
   It touches all human interests, is concerned with the past, the
   present, and the future, ranges through the whole history of
   letters, sciences, arts, and professions, and aspires to teach all
   systemized knowledge. More and more, as time goes on, and
   individual and social wealth accumulates, it will find itself
   realizing its ideal of yesterday, though still pursuing eagerly its
   ideal for tomorrow. (p. 254)

In the 1920s there was a rise in the publication of books dedicated to specific areas of administration and the creation of "the three main divisions of educational administration" (p. 142) Lloyd-Jones wrote about in 1934: operational administration, instructional administration, and student-personnel administration, which are business affairs, academic affairs, and student affairs today. From an operational or business perspective Arnett (1922) wrote College and University Finance, focusing on the financial aspects of college administration. What was then student-personnel administration saw a boom in works with Hudelson (1928) Problem of college education: studies in administration, focused specifically on issues in dealing with students, as did Seashore (1927) Learning and living in college, and Lloyd-Jones (1929) Student Personnel Work at Northwestern University. …

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