volume 41, number 5
Temple UniversityFaculty Herald

How We Got Here: A Forty Year Perspective

By Judith Goode

 

Judith Goode,

Professor of

Anthropology

     During the month of April we witnessed a flurry of collective faculty activity, and heightened concern, about shared governance at Temple. On April 7 the Faculty Herald editorial board sponsored a symposium on the future of shared governance at Temple. The keynoter was Mary Burgan, a former General Secretary of the AAUP who literally “wrote the book” on this issue: What Ever Happened to the Faculty? Drift and Decision in Higher Education (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006). Simultaneously, faculty and students were engaged in activities related to governance issues such as state budget cuts, decisions made about specific interdisciplinary programs without faculty consultation, academic freedom in the context of controversial speakers, and debates concerning administrators’ voting rights in the Faculty Senate. All this activity signaled a concern with the state of faculty governance rights. Using Burgan’s analysis of the national scene, I will examine what has happened to faculty governance at Temple since the Board of Trustees approved the Faculty Senate Constitution and By-Laws in 1969. I base this on my own experience in governance which I acknowledge comes from a CLA standpoint. Jim Hilty notes in his recent authorized history of Temple (Temple University: 125 Years of Service to Philadelphia, the Nation and the World, Temple University Press, 2010) that the university has had a history of economic vulnerability but continues to overcome adversity. The success or failure of shared governance has been shaped by a series of critical events, driven by this vulnerability. Since the formation of a strong Faculty Senate, critical moments have been triggered by the trajectory of government policies and market forces, but the faculty voice was not always heeded in selecting among alternative options.

     I arrived at Temple during the moment of great optimism and growth, shortly after Temple became state-related. This was a period of accelerated hiring and the creation of a Faculty Senate and collegial governance practices. Core faculty rights followed AAUP principles and included a major say in faculty reproduction (hiring, tenuring, promotion), and curriculum development, but also a role in setting budget priorities, and participation in search committees for Deans and academic administrators. After the Board approved the Senate, junior faculty like me were drawn into the debates and carefully educated about the rights of faculty and the struggles to attain them. One first effort was to get Temple removed from the AAUP censure list (for violating Academic Freedom) by advocating the reinstatement of Barrows Dunham, a philosophy professor dismissed during the McCarthy era.

     By the 1970s, it was apparent that the timing of state-relationship was unfortunate. Our optimistic expansion occurred on the eve of both a major global recession and the retrenchment of investment in public higher education. The baby boom, which along with the earlier GI Bill had spurred the growth of public higher education, was soon to end, creating a new pattern of competition between institutions with which Burgan begins her analysis.

     At Temple, we experienced these pressures through annual budget battles; lower, unpredictable allocations; and delayed state payments that led to substantial borrowing and debt service. The appropriations bill for the three state-related universities was often held hostage until the general budget passed. Salaries began to decline vis-a-vis inflation, leading to faculty unionization under AAUP in 1974. Faculty hiring virtually ceased towards the end of the decade. At the same time, the closing of Philadelphia’s public hospital meant that Temple Hospital served more people without medical coverage.

     Concern about plummeting enrollments and inflation led to an episode of retrenching tenured faculty. In April 1982, notices of dismissal were sent to 52 tenured faculty in order to comply with the contractual eighteen months notice. Even at this moment of emergency, the elected executive committee of CLA (which included CST) was deeply involved in discussing alternatives and recommending what it saw as the best option for minimum damage. Faculty became intensely interested in monitoring the growth of the non-academic budget.

     Eighteen months later, in October 1983, some of the dismissed faculty had found academic or practice jobs elsewhere in spite of a bad job market. Others were recalled, relocated in the institution or had accepted Temple buy-outs. In the end, four faculty members refused buyouts. They were known as the “final four” (in a critical comment on the athletics budget). A very large contingent of faculty, including the Senate and AAUP leadership picketed the President’s office in Sullivan Hall in the days before the scheduled dismissal. After the termination, Temple was back on the AAUP censure list having just been removed in 1981 after Barrows Dunham was reinstated by the board. It took a decade of Senate work before reinstatement of the four ended censure.

     At the same time, this episode led to a strike in 1986. The goal of this strike was to establish more formal procedures and evidence requirements to invoke financial exigency and to secure clear rights to institutional relocation in case of such an event. This critical moment had a long-term effect on the attitudes, morale and social relations of faculty. A second strike in 1990 created further tension between faculty and the Board of Trustees.

     Yet in spite of this, faculty emerged with an esprit de corps and new networks, and the administration reached out to Senate leadership. The Senate set up two task forces, one to examine shared governance nationally and the other to examine the particular events which led to impasse at Temple. Under Provost Brownstein, major initiatives relied on widespread collaborative efforts with faculty committees to produce a core curriculum, graduate program reviews, and a blue-ribbon panel report to suggest priorities for strengthening particular graduate programs. An overall Academic Plan set priorities among university missions. Seed money became available for new inter-collegial and interdisciplinary programs, many of which addressed society’s growing interest in inclusion and civil rights. While faculty debated and disagreed on many issues, there were meaningful ways to resolve contested issues.

     Fast forward to the events surrounding the selection of a successor to President Liacouras in 1999- 2000. The Senate Steering Committee was notified that there would be only one representative on the presidential search committee, the Senate President. This not only diminished the number compared to past practice, but the normal selection process by CATA (the Senate’s sitting Committee on Administrative and Trustee Appointments) was bypassed. After a motion calling upon the Senate President to refuse to serve unless there were additional faculty representatives elected or chosen by CATA, she took her seat on the search committee and was subsequently impeached.

     When the new university president took office in Fall 2000, he outsourced a review of the institution to a management firm and proceeded to make significant changes in policies and procedures. Close to 200 new policies were promulgated, many of which affected the central role of faculty in curriculum and faculty personnel decisions. These included a heavily prescribed design for a new general education program and changes in evaluating tenure and promotion cases which standardized evaluative metrics across disciplines, For one year, he created a new university-wide tenure and promotions group as a final evaluation level. He both selected and paid this stipends to this group without Senate consultation. The practice was stopped when the Senate and the president negotiated a new formal committee which had some members appointed by the administration and others elected by faculty. Such hybrids are common I in shared governance at Temple.

     These new top down policies seemed more like those of corporate “turnaround” specialists than a collegial institution with deference given to collegial governance. Until this moment, a large proportion of Temple faculty had experienced collegial governance, although some colleges were governed by more hierarchical command structures. Two new forms of corporate outsourcing practices had been brought to Temple: management consultant studies and academic search firms. Both displaced the role of faculty, using their grounded knowledge of what they needed to do their work, in providing information for planning, generating job descriptions, and reviewing CVs in searches. Search firms also produced a new form of career mobility which encouraged high turnover and successive, often contradictory institutional reinventions by each new leader.

     The particularly high turnover of academic administrators created inconsistent goals, changing incentives and mixed signals about “what counts.” For example, for a brief time, the development of applied MAs was encouraged but by the time proposals were readied by many programs, goals had again shifted. Metrics for measuring productivity changed from credit hours generated to FTEs per faculty, and back again. Ideas that were tried and dropped kept recycling as administrative staff turned over. Faculty increasingly burned out and withdrew. At the same time, administrative offices drew more resources for their specialized personnel and increased salary levels.

     Moreover, a climate of fear and anxiety ensued for many. Email facilitated direct communication between the President and junior faculty. Personal emails warned faculty about potential problems with tenure decisions regarding teaching evaluations or the quality of publication venues. Formerly, such mentoring was in the hands of department chairs and Deans who were close to the relevant fields. For the first time, the president took an active role in curriculum development and encouraged more Board of Trustees involvement in a domain in which deference had been given to faculty. In response to campus hearings related to David Horowitz’ campaign for a Student Bill of Rights, faculty were asked to include a description of grievance procedures in each class syllabus for students to use in case they felt they were being “indoctrinated.”

     Faculty Senate leadership and governance bodies were strong enough to contest and modify most of these actions, but obviously administrative and faculty understandings of shared governance shared little common ground. How had this happened? The following discussion will examine the changes at Temple from the 1990s to the present. They all relate to the application of market logics to 1) the comparative ranking of different kinds of knowledge, 2) the recruitment of student consumers from a broader geographic and class range, and 3) the lowering of labor costs through the recruitment of a smaller and more contingent labor force. The British literature on higher education refers to these processes as “audit culture,” which calls for practical results at every turn and employs increasingly stringent and technologically generated metrics of accountability, efficiency and productivity. As these changes intersected, they produced changes in the nature of both faculty work and identities, which in turn took its toll on faculty unity and added to workload and hence governance activities.

     Market value became a major factor in selecting which knowledge is most socially and culturally valuable. Burgan describes this as the devaluation of intellectual work. She says, “Our [current] culture tends to think that the only work worth paying for is work that produces some tangible, often short term profit.” She goes on to say that those who produce other forms of knowledge

                       …are simply [assumed to be] ….overpaid and under-worked. Such a devaluation of

                    the complexity of knowledge fails to address the value of such mental activities

                    as puzzling through difficult crises in human history, understanding the diversity

                    of cultures, learning the languages of the rest of the world, or patiently and

                    critically clarifying the values we should live by. Current history shows that failure

                    to honor that work can lead to catastrophic results.

(Scott Jaschick. “What ever Hapened to the Faculty. An Interview with Mary Burgan.”)

In her book Burgan also notes that consumption tastes are not the result of inborn aspects of human nature, but ”… rather tastes are shaped by culture and increasingly, culture is shaped by market forces.” (132) At Temple, 1980s planning was turned into a blueprint for restructuring colleges for differential growth in order to follow market trends. “Bottom-line” thinking spread into calculations of academic value. In cases of retirements, vacant lines flowed to central administration to be reallocated or selectively “invested” in areas of “consumer” demands of the current moment or the potential for large-scale funding and grant overhead.

     Irregular hiring practices ultimately created significant fault lines between the large cohorts of presidential faculty hired during the 1970s, the cohort hired during a short spurt in the early 1990s (abruptly ended by two successive years of labor intensive searches frozen in mid-stream), and the post-2000 cohort. Between the first two cohorts, changes in disciplinary paradigms often produced tension. However, the differences between the second two cohorts are also problematic. The 1990 hires, recruited for their quality in a “buyer’s market,” were brought in during unstable economic times. They came to a Temple of low salaries and high teaching loads with a “sweat equity” culture of voluntary program building. The latter group, hired as part of an attempt to upgrade the institutional profile, received higher salaries, lower workloads and much fanfare about their roles in turning Temple around.

      Even more significant fault lines exist between TTs and NTTs in departments or programs in which NTTs hold PhDs and desire careers as teacher scholars. The first NTTs were practitioners or clinicians in practice fields who have external labor markets to and from which they rotate. They maintain two identities as academicians and in practice. In the new two-tier system, NTTs teach more and are paid less than TT counterparts.

     The Senate in the 1980s had realized that faculty hires without replacements could not sustain the new core requirements and made tenure track faculty replacement its number one issue. Anticipating a looming retirement bubble, the Faculty Senate qualified its passage of the core by inserting a written mandate guaranteeing that the core would be taught predominantly by tenure track faculty supporting the teacher-scholar model (teaching benefits from teachers who do research). The precise percentage of presidential faculty was a matter of considerable negotiation as the Senate strongly resisted the NTT model for the core.

     This agreement broke down in a “which comes first” controversy in which the administration argued that insufficient existing faculty had volunteered to teach the core while faculty leaders pointed out the failure to authorize new lines did not show good faith. In fact, many tenured faculty did teach the core, but growing graduate training programs also demanded reduced loads (for student supervision) and lower class size. Temple soon became a two-tier institution in which NTTs outnumber TTs in some programs and in which NTTs can either teach or do scholarship/research, but not both.

      As Temple aspires to higher status, such NTTs (and the even more contingent part-time teachers) increasingly bear the brunt of budget crises, increases in workload and class size as research and teaching become separate and TT faculty are seen as reserved for upgrading the institution’s profile in research and graduate training. Undergraduate teaching, which used to be a valuable part of the teacher-scholar model, becomes devalued and scholars turn inward to seek careers through disciplinary identities rather than through building and maintaining their institutions.

     As institutions begin to intensify competition for students in what Burgan calls a “winner take all” style, they focus on tangible assets like awards, celebrity faculty, and practices directed toward raising institutional rank by targeting specific metrics. Such forms of self promotion require careful control of messages: even rules for placing logos and text as well as closely managed celebrations of success and the masking of unpleasant realities. Branding practices which rely on symbolic images, appearance and icons, soon follow. Temple began branding slowly by marking its presence with the Temple “T,” a logo designed at Tyler. Media campaigns followed. This process deepened as Temple reinvented itself as a residential school, recruiting outside the city and state on a broader scale in terms of social class. While smart marketing moves, there are other social and cultural consequences of these actions which need to be more openly discussed. The recent appointment of a new VP for Branding and an office for the university architect demonstrates further marketing efforts requiring shifts in resource investment from academic to non-academic uses.

     Burgan notes that administrators “tend to be willing to pump scarce resources into dubious technology fixes than into the obvious remedy of hiring more faculty” (38), thereby further adding to non-academic costs. Technology can be used in extraordinary ways, but not when it is uncritically overvalued. Technology appeals because of its bottom line value in potentially displacing expensive faculty, or in appealing to student consumers. But technology also has other unanticipated effects on faculty through disguised workload increases. Computers transfer work to faculty as support staff are replaced. Email extends working hours.

     Another disguised workload increase comes from the use of computers to monitor the tasks of “audit culture,” through regulation and assessment. New forms of audit such as Faculty Annual Reports, the increasing complexity of Institutional Review Board procedures, outsourced trainings, the monitoring of compliance, and escalating changes in policies and procedures also require relearning and engender confusion. Moreover, a constant upgrading of equipment creates glitches and often systems that are not “friendly” to all types of user goals.
      In a very short time, faculty work lives have radically changed and the non-academic budget has been put to many new resource-intensive uses. The autonomy of faculty, their time expenditures and the support staff have been reduced. Diminishing shared governance has to be understood in this context.
     Depending on when faculty were hired, and where they are located at Temple, there are many different experiences of Temple and differences in degrees of disappointment, withdrawal or interest in governance. Burgan’s solution is to revitalize the faculty through organizing. She explains what is at stake in the loss of a viable tenure system. Recent events on campus may be signaling change and a new possibility that faculty will pay attention to budget priorities, especially regarding resource allocation between the academic and non-academic budgets. Faculty at Temple should refuse their frequent characterization as a group who “don’t like change.” This allegation, which sees critique as whining and blames faculty for being “old fashioned,” ignores the reasons for distrust and resistance that go much deeper. They come from observing and evaluating the effects of many past changes which have negatively affected our core academic mission.

Dr. Judith Goode’s experience includes Faculty Senate Presidency (1987-8), FS executive committee service (1986-9), FSSC (2006-09), five Dean’s Search Committees, University Committee on Promotion and Tenure, CATA, executive committee of TAUP (1984-7), multiple terms on CLA committees and eleven years as chair in two CLA units.