Back to School in Higher Ed: Who Needs Faculty

This past fall, I somehow failed to post this notice on the most recent working paper published by the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education (CFHE).

The CFHE website is located at


Executive Summary

Although 50 years of research has shown that faculty/student interaction is crucial to student success, recent trends and newly-adopted practices in higher education actually decrease the possibilities for faculty to interact with students in the amounts and the ways that matter most.

This paper examines the price students pay for several trends in higher education that have gained acceptance without a balanced critical analysis.

If research were driving higher education policy, investing in faculty would be a top priority at every college and university. But what is happening in our country, instead, is a growing disinvestment in faculty.

This paper details how serious and how pervasive this disinvestment in faculty has become, and it discusses the ways in which current policies and practices around faculty hiring and salary are hurting students.

As the research on student success suggests, the churning of the faculty workforce along with reduced opportunities for interaction caused by low salaries and over-reliance on part-time appointments are especially hard on students of color, low-income students, and first-generation students.

If the United States is going to have an educated citizenry for its economy and its democracy, our colleges and universities must do more to provide optimal learning conditions for our increasingly diverse student body.

Given the importance of college degrees for social mobility, especially for low-income people and people of color, our nation’s legislators, university trustees, and campus administrators must make sure that faculty have the time and energy to do all they can and all they want to do for students.

Providing all students with real opportunities for success in college will require a shift in institutional priorities, particularly as reflected in their budgets, to better align our colleges and universities with the core mission of higher education and the role faculty play in carrying it out successfully.


The complete paper is available at:



3 thoughts on “Back to School in Higher Ed: Who Needs Faculty

  1. While one can not disagree with the problems regarding budgets for faculty. It would be important if, for once, this issue were placed within the larger context. For example:

    a) The administrative budgets are, in part, a manifestation of a host of other pressures being placed by government funding and regulatory mandates as well as a host of other university functions that are being demanded by students, alums and others including the increasing allocation of resources to non- academic functions such as campus amenities and extra-curricular activities such as sports.

    b) Students, in particularly the economically disenfranchised over which there is concern, have been promoted through the system P->12 which washes its hands of under-prepared students as they drop them off at the college gate. Content experts, the faculty, rise via promotion/tenure/research and have little or no preparation or significant rewards for “interacting” with students whose academic needs are much greater than idyllic exchanges on the lawns of “old main”.

    c) The population of those attending the public universities are different with different demands, needs and interests. Additionally, looking at the societal needs and opportunities to participate in either grand vision: civic engagement and economic well being, are also different and it is not clear that picking students up at the entrance to the ivy covered walls and carrying them thru to a diploma has any more relevance than the piece of paper received by the straw man in the Wizard Of Oz. In other words, there is no certainty that a college program is the best path for all nor that a degree guarantees entrance into a future that is claimed to be at graduation.

    In other words, the paper is promoting an ideal of a past that may never have ever been and a hope for a future that makes that vision like a small section in a restoration world like Colonial Williamsburg or one of the Disney theme park areas. As a marketing piece, it rings hollow.

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