period beginning late in the 1970s brought disturbing economic
changes with worsening financial conditions. There was a relatively
sudden shift in the national economy from production to service
and high technology. Manufacturing and steel plants closed
raising unemployment to unacceptable levels; foreign competition
created an unfavorable trade balance and the national debt
was still growing. There was rising inflation and interest
rates climbed to record levels.
a time when higher education badly needed new funding sources,
American industry was in need of extensive research and development
to stay competitive in world markets. Industry and universities
entered into a working relationship where industry and government
contracted for research with university personnel, and universities
gained additional revenue. The movement from fundamental to
applied research at all universities was immediate and overwhelming.
Some universities today are dependent on as much as 40% of
the annual budget being derived from research.
the 1950s and 1960s, university faculties had become relatively
complacent. Many of them had come into teaching directly after
graduate school and they had little practical experience in
their fields. Numerous faculty members were not professionally
active. Universities had to gear up their faculties to meet
the new research demands. This marked an era when there was
enormous administrative pressure on faculty for research,
professional accomplishment and national or international
recognition. Pressure was applied across the board to all
fields of study including art and design.
administrative pressure on faculty coincided with expanded
use of computers throughout universities including institutional
records and operations as well as educational and research
programs. Computers were not new to universities, but during
the seventies, there was an explosive acceleration in their
use on campus. Some schools went so far as to require students
to show proof of computer ownership before they could register
for classes. From the late seventies into the nineties, computer
capabilities have greatly expanded. Computers have not only
been essential to research activities, but they also have
affected traditional instruction methods, course content and
improve faculty productivity, administrations introduced the
merit system for determining retention, promotion, tenure
and salary. Research, professional accomplishment and recognition,
student teaching evaluations and service to the institution
were the criteria. Grantsmanship and professional accomplishment
received the highest rewards. Teaching was usually a second
or third priority. Service to the institution counted for
little or nothing. Teachers who might serve on two department,
one college and one university committee soon realized there
was nothing to be gained, and consequently refused future
committee appointments. This has proven to be damaging to
the conduct of academic affairs. Merit recommendations began
with the department, moved to the college, and finally to
the university level. In most instances, there would be final
adjustments made by upper administrators. Overall, the merit
system probably produced more cynicism and divisiveness among
faculty than productivity. A number of teachers found the
atmosphere and administrative pressures so unpleasant as to
leave teaching altogether.
might be expected with the other administrative pressures
on faculty, retention, promotion and tenure procedures were
tightened, and became insurmountable hurdles for many young
teachers who could not meet administrative expectations for
research, professional accomplishment and recognition. The
administrative pressures on faculty tended to corrupt faculty
integrity and traditional academic values.
early as 1972, Kingman Brewster, president at Yale University
noted in a paper on tenure: strong universities, assuring
freedom from intellectual conformity coerced within the institution
is even more of a concern than is the protection of freedom
from external interference. He further stated,
common ethic (academic freedom) also requires protection from
administrators and colleagues within the community President
Brewsters remarks proved to be both insightful and very
will only briefly note the effect of Equal Opportunity legislation
on behalf of minorities and women that became a factor in
educational hiring during these years. The intent of the policies
was well placed and overdue. However, abuses are found in
how policies were implemented. When individuals are hired
only because they represent a minority group or are women,
I think it is wrong. I recall a Dean telling the search committee
that he would not even consider any recommendation unless
it was a black woman.
many institutions, upper administration privately set quotas
and pressured Deans who leaned on Department Heads who in
turn coerced Search Committees to fulfill quotas. Clearly,
the hiring of minority representatives and women became a
higher priority than instructional quality, and this is questionable.
Affirmative Action was never intended as meaning quotas.
the Thomas and Hill confrontation during Senate hearings,
there was new legislation followed by university policies
on sexual harassment. There is no question that sexual harassment
cannot, and should not, be tolerated under any circumstances.
However, it has often become a nightmare for faculty members.
Universities were quick to establish offices and procedures
for dealing with charges of sexual harassment, but only from
the standpoint of prosecuting and not defending faculty members.
Once a charge of sexual harassment is made against a faculty
member, no matter how frivolous or unfounded, that faculty
members record is forever tainted. The only recourse
faculty members have is to hire a personal lawyer, and expenses
are borne by the teacher. Again, it is a needed and well intentioned
policy gone awry because of administrative overreaction and
recent years, there has been pressure on faculty to be politically
correct, PC. The imposition of conformity dictated by a vocal
segment of the university community is unsettling. A university
campus is perhaps the last place you would expect this type
of coercion to take place.
is identified with a variety of social movements ranging from
minority concerns, womens rights to gay acceptance.
There is an inquisitional atmosphere connected with PC, and
again, once a teacher is branded as being politically incorrect,
their record is tainted. Often times, the words or actions
of teachers have been taken out of context, misquoted, or
are unsubstantiated hearsay. There is almost no defense against
recent years, traditional curriculum has been under attack
as not reflecting cultural diversity. There has been pressure
from both within and without universities to create new programs
based on the cultural representation incorporated into present
day American society. Coming at a time when universities are
in difficult financial straits, the demands for broader cultural
programs have created additional stress on faculty members
and institutions. During the late eighties and early nineties,
worsening financial conditions strongly impacted on all universities.
At some public institutions, faculty received no salary increases
for five years. When there were salary raises, they might
only be 2 to 3 percent. There were many institutions offering
special benefits to encourage early retirement. In some instances,
faculty were actually released and educational programs eliminated
or scaled back. Operational funds were reduced and experienced
much of the same devastation as salary budgets.