The roles and responsibilities of college and university faculty members are closely tied to the central functions of higher education. One primary formal description of these functions was contained in the 1915 “Declaration of Principles” formulated by a representative committee of faculty members including members of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). According to the Declaration, the functions of colleges and universities are “to promote inquiry and advance the sum of human knowledge, to provide general instruction to the students, and to develop experts for various branches of the public service” (Joughin, pp. 163–164). Correspondingly, college and university faculty members undertake research, teaching, and service roles to carry out the academic work of their respective institutions.Each of these roles enables faculty members to generate and disseminate knowledge to peers, students, and external audiences. The balance among teaching, research, and service, however, differs widely across institution types and by terms of the faculty member’s appointment. The major portion of this article will deal with these kinds of differences while latter sections will focus on the faculty as collective entities and related trends within higher education.

THE TEACHING ROLE

The teaching role of faculty members reflects their centrality in addressing the primary educational mission among colleges and universities. As faculty members teach, they disseminate and impart basic or applied knowledge to students and assist students with the learning process and applying the knowledge. In this construction of the teaching role, the teacher is the content expert, and students are regarded as learners or novices to the academic discipline or field of study. Faculty members are expected to follow developments in the field so their expertise and knowledge base remain current. At many universities, faculty members are also expected to participate in creating the new developments that are taught, which sometimes leads to tensions about appropriate priorities for research and teaching roles.

THE RESEARCH ROLE

Many university faculty members engage in research, thereby contributing to the knowledge base of the discipline or academic field. Research commonly is associated with conducting empirical studies, whether confirmatory or exploratory, but in some academic disciplines research also encompasses highly theoretical work. The extent to which faculty members have a research role as part of their work responsibilities depends largely on the mission of the employing institution, with larger universities more likely to have research and knowledge creation as a significant part of their missions. Although higher education institutions are most often the sites for and sponsors of faculty members’ research, the primary audience for most academic researchers is their national and international community of disciplinary colleagues. Faculty members with active research agendas and involvement in their disciplinary communities have been regarded as more cosmopolitan in orientation, with stronger allegiances and loyalties to their disciplines than to their home institutions.

THE SERVICE ROLE

Institutional service performed by faculty members includes serving on internal committees and advisory boards, mentoring and advising students, and assuming part-time administrative appointments as program or unit leaders. In some cases, faculty members also assume term appointments in fulltime roles as mid-level or senior level institutional administrators. Some level of faculty members’ service to the institution is expected, although tenure-track faculty members may be discouraged or exempted from heavy service commitments to permit greater focus on their research and teaching. Some institutional service roles may carry some prestige, and appointments may include a salary supplement. However, institutional service is not as highly regarded as research and teaching with respect to advancement within faculty ranks.

INTEGRATION OF FACULTY ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

The teaching, research, and service roles of faculty members overlap conceptually and practically. For example, instruction in a particular discipline or skill yields a service in the form of educated or appropriately trained persons, and outreach to a farmer or small business owner may lead to an applied research project undertaken by the faculty member. Some attempts have been made to validate the various forms of faculty work and unify them conceptually. Perhaps the most famous recent model has been the American educator and government official Ernest Boyer’s 1990 stipulation of discovery, application, integration, and teaching as separate but related forms of scholarship. Among other outcomes, these models address concerns regarding the implicit hierarchy that grants the most prestige to research and the least to service.

THE COLLECTIVE FACULTY

Although the faculty of an institution is traditionally considered to refer to full-time faculty members, part-time and adjunct faculty members at many institutions have assumed a larger proportion of teaching responsibilities. Although the proportions of women and minority group members in the fulltime faculty ranks grew slowly in the last quarter of the twentieth century, women and minority group members also are concentrated in the lower faculty ranks such as instructors and part-time and adjunct faculty positions. Some blame this slow progress on inadequate numbers of diverse students in graduate programs, market factors that make other career choices more attractive or lucrative, or individual lifestyle choices. However, focus also has been shifted to institutional structures and norms, professional socialization experiences, and tacit assumptions that serve as barriers to progress within faculty ranks. For example, William G. Tierney and Estela M. Bensimon suggest that faculty members from underrepresented groups are found to pay a cultural tax in the form of increased service loads and disproportionate expectations for student advising and mentoring–service roles that often are not valued or rewarded.

The roles and responsibilities of college and university faculty members are closely tied to the central functions of higher education. One primary formal description of these functions was contained in the 1915 “Declaration of Principles” formulated by a representative committee of faculty members including members of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). According to the Declaration, the functions of colleges and universities are “to promote inquiry and advance the sum of human knowledge, to provide general instruction to the students, and to develop experts for various branches of the public service” (Joughin, pp. 163–164). Correspondingly, college and university faculty members undertake research, teaching, and service roles to carry out the academic work of their respective institutions.Each of these roles enables faculty members to generate and disseminate knowledge to peers, students, and external audiences. The balance among teaching, research, and service, however, differs widely across institution types and by terms of the faculty member’s appointment. The major portion of this article will deal with these kinds of differences while latter sections will focus on the faculty as collective entities and related trends within higher education.

THE TEACHING ROLE

The teaching role of faculty members reflects their centrality in addressing the primary educational mission among colleges and universities. As faculty members teach, they disseminate and impart basic or applied knowledge to students and assist students with the learning process and applying the knowledge. In this construction of the teaching role, the teacher is the content expert, and students are regarded as learners or novices to the academic discipline or field of study. Faculty members are expected to follow developments in the field so their expertise and knowledge base remain current. At many universities, faculty members are also expected to participate in creating the new developments that are taught, which sometimes leads to tensions about appropriate priorities for research and teaching roles.

THE RESEARCH ROLE

Many university faculty members engage in research, thereby contributing to the knowledge base of the discipline or academic field. Research commonly is associated with conducting empirical studies, whether confirmatory or exploratory, but in some academic disciplines research also encompasses highly theoretical work. The extent to which faculty members have a research role as part of their work responsibilities depends largely on the mission of the employing institution, with larger universities more likely to have research and knowledge creation as a significant part of their missions. Although higher education institutions are most often the sites for and sponsors of faculty members’ research, the primary audience for most academic researchers is their national and international community of disciplinary colleagues. Faculty members with active research agendas and involvement in their disciplinary communities have been regarded as more cosmopolitan in orientation, with stronger allegiances and loyalties to their disciplines than to their home institutions.

THE SERVICE ROLE

Institutional service performed by faculty members includes serving on internal committees and advisory boards, mentoring and advising students, and assuming part-time administrative appointments as program or unit leaders. In some cases, faculty members also assume term appointments in fulltime roles as mid-level or senior level institutional administrators. Some level of faculty members’ service to the institution is expected, although tenure-track faculty members may be discouraged or exempted from heavy service commitments to permit greater focus on their research and teaching. Some institutional service roles may carry some prestige, and appointments may include a salary supplement. However, institutional service is not as highly regarded as research and teaching with respect to advancement within faculty ranks.

INTEGRATION OF FACULTY ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

The teaching, research, and service roles of faculty members overlap conceptually and practically. For example, instruction in a particular discipline or skill yields a service in the form of educated or appropriately trained persons, and outreach to a farmer or small business owner may lead to an applied research project undertaken by the faculty member. Some attempts have been made to validate the various forms of faculty work and unify them conceptually. Perhaps the most famous recent model has been the American educator and government official Ernest Boyer’s 1990 stipulation of discovery, application, integration, and teaching as separate but related forms of scholarship. Among other outcomes, these models address concerns regarding the implicit hierarchy that grants the most prestige to research and the least to service.

THE COLLECTIVE FACULTY

Although the faculty of an institution is traditionally considered to refer to full-time faculty members, part-time and adjunct faculty members at many institutions have assumed a larger proportion of teaching responsibilities. Although the proportions of women and minority group members in the fulltime faculty ranks grew slowly in the last quarter of the twentieth century, women and minority group members also are concentrated in the lower faculty ranks such as instructors and part-time and adjunct faculty positions. Some blame this slow progress on inadequate numbers of diverse students in graduate programs, market factors that make other career choices more attractive or lucrative, or individual lifestyle choices. However, focus also has been shifted to institutional structures and norms, professional socialization experiences, and tacit assumptions that serve as barriers to progress within faculty ranks. For example, William G. Tierney and Estela M. Bensimon suggest that faculty members from underrepresented groups are found to pay a cultural tax in the form of increased service loads and disproportionate expectations for student advising and mentoring–service roles that often are not valued or rewarded.

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