Entering the Academic Marketplace: An Environment of Change
by Peter B. Barr, School of Business and Computer Science, Coastal Carolina University
The overall purpose of this article is to provide some guidance for recent graduates of doctoral programs who seek faculty positions in public-assisted regional institutions. Most, if not all, of these regional institutions are dedicated primarily to the mission of teaching, with varying degrees of emphasis placed upon research activities and public service. Although the selection process is essentially the same, there are considerable differences in the expectations of each institution and its faculty.
Consequently, the focus for this discourse are those candidates who are interested in applying for positions at relatively small regional institutions primarily committed to undergraduate educational offerings. A further understanding is that the institution has a well-defined mission, commitment to excellence, and high expectations for continuous improvement. In effect, the institution and its faculty believe strongly in adherence to the mission and commitment to the region.
Given the above parameters, business schools find themselves deeply involved in change. Educational priorities, processes, and other modes of operation are being impacted from a variety of external influences. Three of the most critical elements of change include changing market conditions, the evolvement of "mission-driven" accreditation standards, and the widespread, increased clamor for "accountability" by state legislators. While this effort was not designed to explore the implications of this change, it is, nonetheless, important to realize that these changes have dramatically changed the educational landscape and what is expected of new faculty entering the academic marketplace.
This change involves a fundamental re-thinking of faculty rewards, of faculty development for their role in teaching and the learning process, of the advising role of faculty and others, of the responsibilities of students, of the physical environment for teaching and of the provisions of technological teaching assistance.
To be successful in this new environment, institutions of higher learning must learn to adapt and shape services to the need of its constituents. The institutionalization of the process, however, requires a redirection or shift in the academic organizational culture. This is to say that the traditional faculty member tends to focus upon specific research that is of interest, and that he or she feels will best serve the needs of the academic discipline. Curriculum and programs of study are similarly designed. Given the external pressure and rising costs of education, this flexibility is no longer feasible. For many years, colleges and universities have shared the three-dimensional mission of teaching, research, and public service. But often, "the accompanying attitude has been an air of superiority or of extending superior knowledge or expertise from the university to the community," rather than a recognition of the manner in which the school can best utilize its resources to meet the educational needs and challenges of the community.
The overall goal is straightforward and clear. Successful institutions of the future will be those which are so infused into the community that the use of resources closely mirrors the needs of the region served. But the transformation required to achieve this fit must necessarily encompass the traditional roles of higher education. To be successful, active strategies designed to change the organizational culture must focus upon teaching, research, and a methodology of institutionalization.
The resulting impact upon the individual faculty member is significant. New faculty do not find the same levels of expectations and flexibilities afforded their contemporaries just a few years ago. Demands on new faculty may occur more rapidly with more emphasis placed upon the accomplishment of the institutional mission. Consequently, successful institutions search for candidates who exhibit those characteristics which will strengthen the overall mission. This subtle change is of critical importance to the applicant because it refocuses the emphasis toward the educational unit and the accomplishment of a group mission. Basically, the opportunities for growth and exploration are still as exciting as always, but the search for ■fit■ may require extended efforts by new faculty and educational institutions.
For institutions such as ours, we seek individuals that:
Peter B. Barr became dean of the E. Craig Wall, Sr. School of Business and Computer Science at Coastal Carolina University on July 1, 1992. In Fall 1995, approximately 1,000 students were enrolled in the Wall School of Business with 26 full-time faculty members. Dr. Barr, a professor of business administration, has been a member of the Coastal faculty since 1987. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Center for Economic and Community Development in April 1989 and became the Center's founding director. Dr. Barr has a bachelor's and master's degree in business administration from Marshall University, and a doctorate in business administration from Louisiana Tech University. He has published in numerous journals and has completed extensive consulting contracts in systems design and economic development, as well as volunteer efforts dedicated to community enhancement. Dean Barr and his wife Carol live in North Myrtle Beach with their three children.
Decision Line, March 1997 (v27n2)