Public leaders have focused attention upon institutions of higher education and have asked some very hard questions about the outcomes produced by educational institutions. For example, do taxpayers and communities benefit enough to justify the monies spent on grants? How can we ensure that faculty work is tied to educating and benefiting our community? Should the tenure system remain in place? What will be the faculty roles of the future, and are we planning adequately for them?
These questions unsettle many basic science educators. However, the fact that the questions are asked challenges us to rethink faculty roles and rewards and then to seek a network of academic colleagues engaged in answering the same questions. Each year since 1992, the American Association of Higher Education (all institutions of higher education) has held a conference on faculty roles and rewards. It serves a setting for gathering constructive ideas and materials on faculty careers in an era of profound changes. Each conference is designed to assist participants gain a sense of the challenges that we face, to gather ideas and materials from institutions that are dealing with similar challenges and to gain momentum for planning some of the reforms in their home institutions.
Faculty and administrators are encouraged to attend AAHE as teams so that they can work together on projects when they return to their home institutions. Since 1993, a team of faculty (including the provost for two years) from the Medical College of Pennsylvania and then from the consolidated Medical College of Pennsylvania and Hahnemann University (MCPHU) has attended the conference. As a result, we gained the momentum and the materials to implement an institution-wide system of faculty professional development, to expand the meaning of scholarship within our tenure and promotion guidelines, and to introduce educators’ portfolios and a system of faculty evaluation within several university departments.
The 1995 A~AHE conference had one session presented by Carol J. Bland, Ph.D. and Richard L. Holloway that was devoted to describing what the presenters called ?A Crisis of Mission: Faculty Roles and Rewards in an Era of Health Care Reform.(l) The session was later summarized in the AAHE publications, Change. The authors concluded that we now are investigating ways to manage change and stabilize their funding sources. These include (in) changes to the faculty rewards (including revising/ rewriting tenure and promotion policies so that they give greater recognition to teaching, clinical service, and community service; (ii) encouraging collective projects and funding sources; (iii) implementing faculty accountability and evaluation systems; (iv) and instituting sound business practices within departments.
The 1996 conference looked closely at practices already implemented in medical schools for responding to the “crisis”. A workshop for 40 participants presented the Faculty Professional Development Program at The Medical College of Pennsylvania and Hahnemann University. In this program, unit leaders, including basic science chairs, meet with their faculty in an annual conference at which goals, ways of accomplishing faculty work, and methods of assessing success in accomplishing goals are discussed. A second session, “Rewarding Service in a Medical School Setting was Moderated by Dr. Linda Nieman (MCPHU). Richard Holloway (Medical College of Wisconsin) Mary Clark (Harvard University School of Medicine) James Farmer(University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign) participated as a panel, describing their institutions’ methods of documenting and recognizing service activities. An AAHE publication, Making the Case for Public Service, includes documents useful in preparing and presenting professional service activities as scholarship. (2)
Aside from the sessions specifically designed for medical school faculty, there are numerous sessions at the AAHE conference on topics of continuing concern to all faculty in higher education such as honoring different forms of scholarship; organizing for collaboration and change; rethinking academic ca?reers; gaining control of accountability; and faculty responsibility for public life; use of the educational portfolio and use of information technology within education.
From the end of World War II until the 1990’s scholarly endeavors in higher education settings were associated primarily with doing research. Faculty who emphasized teaching were less likely to be promoted. Now, the expectations of basic science faculty entering the academic arena are changing drastically. It is important for basic science educators to understand the trends in higher education and to use the information for directing their own careers. The 1997 AAHE conference will have a special focus on tenure. It will be held in San Diego, California from January 16-19, 1997. Please contact Ms. Pamela Bender, the AAHE conference coordinator at 1-202-293-6440 for more information.
1.Bland CJ, Holloway RL. A Crisis of Mission: Faculty Roles and Rewards in an Era of Health-Care Reform. Change. September/October 1995, 30-35
2.Lynton, EA. Making the Case for Professional Service