What a surprise! The Chronicle of Higher Ed reports on a study to be discussed at the National Education Association conference on Higher Ed. The data was collected in 1992 and 2007. In the US the percentage of faculty reporting moderate to strong loyalty to their institution has dropped from 90% to 61%. And the trend seems to be wide-spread:
Among other nations examined, the proportion of faculty members expressing moderate or strong loyalty to their institutions declined from 87 percent to 51 percent in Australia, from 80 percent to 63 percent in Japan, from 97 to 74 in South Korea, and from 84 to 38 percent in the Britain.
Since the figures are pre-recession figures, one can only suppose the decline is increasing. There is little indication of why this is so. One commenter on the CHE article suggests that it is due to all the faculty brought over from the former Soviet Union. That doesn’t seem to me quite right. Another suggests that administrators no longer know or care about higher education. If that’s what it seems like to faculty then the figures might even be moderate, with the exception of the British, possibly once again in the lead on higher ed issues.
As I was thinking about this, I followed Kate Norlock’s suggestion of buying Margaret Walker’s Moral Repair; I got the immediate gratification version for Kindle for under $15. Walker discusses the repair that harmful wrong doing requires. While she starts with a stark case of torture in Chile under Pinochet, she also includes these: Spouses and lovers are unfaithful, children selfish, associates unfair, friends deceitful; there are slights, insults, lies, acts of indifference, betrayal, aggression or violence among us… . Given the clichés that productive faculty face a lot of negative feed-back (“It’s always the third reviewer“) and that university political life is vicious, I wonder how many faculty feel instinctively that they have been injured.
In this context, the following passage struck me as possibly related to the issue of institutional loyalty:
Communities also can be harmed by serious wrongdoing, because it may shatter individual members’ sense of security and call into question the authority of standards and the effectiveness of protective institutions.
So let me asked about the extent to which faculty feel besieged by demands from unknowing administrators who are largely clueless about how to sustain some moral order.
What do you think?
And finally let me clarify that the reflections are not about my own institution; rather, I’ve been looking at what seem to me rather horrific developments in post-tenure review at the University of Texas, linked to on Leiter’s blog.