Magazine article ASEE Prism

Academic Duty

Magazine article ASEE Prism

Academic Duty

Article excerpt

Academic Duty

By Donald Kennedy. Harvard University Press; 1997; 310 pp., $29.95. Reviewed by Lucy Morse Donald Kennedy, the former president of Stanford University and currently a member of its faculty, conducted a series of seminars from 1993-1995 with doctoral students who were planning academic careers. Academic Duty evolved from his notes for that class into a book about universities.

Academic freedom in our universities is a well-worn topic, but the expectations of faculty responsibility are not understood by either faculty members or the general public. As a result, people outside the academic community have few criteria on which to judge it, and the lack of understanding has brought public higher education under critical scrutiny.

Kennedy seeks to address this problem by emphasizing academic freedom's counterpart, academic dutywhich he defines as preparing future faculty, teaching, mentoring, serving the university, discovering, publishing, telling the truth, reaching beyond the walls, and leading change.

The fundamental academic functions are the same in all institutions: admitting the students, planning and delivering the curriculum, setting degree requirements, and granting the degrees. The preparation of future faculty for productive and rewarding academic lives is an academic duty.

Responsibility to students and teaching is at the core of the university's mission and of the faculty's academic duty. Society expects that above all, the modern university will teach well. Mentoring also makes a difference in academic outcomes, not only for advanced students, but for undergraduates as well. …

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