Moving from Administrator to Faculty Member: Look before You Leap

Article excerpt

As the demand for qualified higher education faculty increases, practicing administrators with the appropriate education and experience will be likely recruits. Prudent faculty hopefuls will investigate the role of faculty and make the necessary preparations to secure and be successful in a faculty appointment. This article will provide an overview of the realistic considerations and preparations administrators should take when contemplating making the move from an administrative to a faculty position.

Doctoral level training in higher education administration has been available since the 1960's (Crosson & Nelson, 1984). The maturing and expansion of higher education graduate programs, coupled with the graying of American university's faculty (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1998-1999; Jacobs, 1990; Keim, 1991; U. S. Department of Education, 1991) has created an increased need for higher education faculty. With few exceptions, these faculty positions reside in departments with titles such as Counselor Education, Educational Psychology, or Educational Leadership (American College Personnel Association, 1994), and are administratively located within Colleges or Schools of Education whose roots are in public school counseling or leadership training. These units have traditionally required faculty members to have practical school-based experience. As a result, new higher education faculty positions in these departments routinely call for higher education administrative experience making practicing higher education administrators likely recruits. This article will provide an overview of the realistic considerations and preparations administrators should take when contemplating moving from an administrative to a faculty position.

Variables for Consideration

When determining interest in faculty appointments, administrators might do well to consider the characteristics of effective faculty members and relate these to their own attributes and desires. In addition to a good fit with individual qualifications, administrators should consider how faculty appointments differ from administrative ones relative to salary structure, workload, working conditions, and reward system.

Faculty Characteristics

A 1995 study conducted by Kalivoda reveals some interesting commonalties in faculty identified as exemplary. The study offers guiding principles found consistently in the attitudes, values, and beliefs of effective faculty. Several may prove helpful to individuals considering moving into the faculty arena. "Self improvement as a way of life" (Kalivoda, 1995, p. 105) is one such principle observed in the exemplary faculty participants. This principle suggests a love of learning and a desire to strive for excellence. "The seizing of opportunities" and lia long-term view and persistence" (Kalivoda, 1995, p. 108) were two additional attitudes held by the faculty participants. These attitudes were seen in the faculty member's ability to see potential, to take advantage of it, and to establish goals and work toward them. Due to the independent nature of faculty work, these attitudes are fundamental to their success (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 19981999).

Finally, faculty enthusiastically recounted their belief in "generosity of ideas" (Kalivoda, 1995, p. 109) and "respect, sincerity, and caring toward others" (p. 110). As faculty members teach, conduct research, and provide service, these principles are key to successful interaction with students, colleagues, and administrators (Froh, Gray, & Lambert, 1993).

Salary Structure

Faculty in education disciplines typically are appointed for nine months (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1998-1999). The salary, therefore, advertised and paid for these positions are base salaries for the nine months of work. Although salaries vary by region of the country and by institution, the average 9-month salary for new assistant professors in education is slightly more than $37,000 at public institutions and slightly more than $34,000 for private institutions (Chronicle of Higher Education, 1997). …