Marist College Chapter

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Statement on Research

March 12, 2002

Hello fellow AAUP colleagues:

For the past several weeks, AAUP officers of the Marist College Chapter, in consultation with several members, have been formulating a draft response to recent developments on the question of "research." We would like to make use of AAUP principles in order to offer a unified statement that responds to recent attempts to standardize research expectations for the purpose of annual evaluation, tenure, and promotion.

As it turns out, AAUP has published several documents that seem to have relevance to our situation.

For instance, according to an AAUP statement on workloads that was updated in 2000: "It is very doubtful that a continuing effort in original inquiry can be maintained by a faculty member carrying a teaching load of more than nine hours; and it is worth noting that a number of leading universities desiring to emphasize research have already moved or are now moving to a six-hour policy."

Using AAUPs assessment of teaching loads as a baseline assumption for further reflection, we offer the following points of consideration:

(1) The feeling one gets recently is that a "managerial model" is being increasingly legitimated and deployed as appropriate for academic affairs, but as Martin Snyder argues in the Fall 200 issue of AAUP's Footnotes, "The corporate management model, devised to control the railroads and factories of mass production, is simply an inappropriate way to distribute authority among the highly educated professionals of academic institutions."

(2) When, for instance, scholarly production is guided by piece-work-type quotas that emphasize year-by-year results, rather than long-range scholarly creativity, then, as the AAUP argues in a June 1999 report on Post-Tenure review: "Another consequence of the misapplication of the managerial model to higher education is the ignoring of another important dimension of academic freedom and tenure: time, the time required to develop and complete serious professional undertakings. Shortening the time horizon of faculty, so as to accord with periodic reviews, will increase productivity only artificially, if at all. More frequent and formal reviews may lead faculty members to pick safe and quick, but less potentially valuable, research projects to minimize the risk of failure or delayed achievement."

(3) Given that our workloads of 12-hours of teaching per semester qualify as "maximum" by AAUP standards, and given that "research" quotas for creative products under such conditions may be viewed as a demand for over-work, then it seems doubly unfair that any administrative pressures for such production should be accompanied by threats to with-hold annual awards of merit pay if the mandated year-by-year quota is not met. We would therefore much prefer to see an incentive-based approach that encourages creative production through a system of supports and rewards.

(4) Furthermore, we are concerned that the use of annual evaluations is beginning to present a danger to the climate of academic freedom at Marist College, because the burden of proof seems to be shifting away from a presumption that favors the right of faculty to exercise judgments about their own direction for teaching and research. As AAUP worried in its 1999 statement on Post-Tenure Review, "where the reviews are solely for developmental ends, there is a natural expectation that, if evidence of deficiency is found, sanctions of varying degrees of subtlety and severity will indeed follow, absent prompt improvement. Hence, even the most benign review may carry a threat, require protections of academic due process, and inappropriately constrain faculty performance."

(5) Finally, if recent developments have raised concern among tenured members of AAUP at Marist College, we can only suppose that the climate for non-tenured faculty is affected even more.

Eventually, we would like to circulate a statement to the Marist College community. Please reply with your comments about the suggested formulations above, and please also help us deliberate about the process we should take in adopting and distributing a final statement.

A selection of supporting documents has been collected at the following web site:
Please bookmark this link for your convenience.

Greg Moses
VP Marist AAUP


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