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The Faculty Factor

Reassessing the American Academy in a Turbulent Era

Over the past 70 years, the American university has become the global gold standard of excellence in research and graduate education. The unprecedented surge of federal research support of the post−World War II American university paralleled the steady strengthening of the American academic profession itself, which managed to attract the best and brightest educators from around the world while expanding the influence of the "faculty factor" throughout the academic realm. But in the past two decades, escalating costs and intensifying demands for efficiency have resulted in a wholesale reshaping of the academic workforce, one marked by skyrocketing numbers of contingent faculty members.

Extending Jack H. Schuster and Martin J. Finkelstein’s richly detailed classic The American Faculty: The Restructuring of Academic Work and Careers, this important book documents the transformation of the American faculty—historically the leading global source of Nobel laureates and innovation—into a diversified and internally stratified professional workforce. Drawing on heretofore unpublished data, the book provides the most comprehensive contemporary depiction of the changing nature of academic work and what it means to be a college or university faculty member in the second decade of the twenty-first century. The rare higher education study to incorporate multinational perspectives by comparing the status and prospects of American faculty to teachers in the major developing economies of Europe and East Asia, The Faculty Factor also explores the redistribution of academic work and the ever-more diverse pathways for entering into, maneuvering through, and exiting from academic careers.

Using the tools of sociology, anthropology, and demography, the book charts the impact of waves of technological change, mass globalization, and the severe financial constraints of the last decade to show the impact on the lives and careers of those who teach in higher education. The authors propose strategic policy recommendations to extend the strengths of American higher education to retain leadership in the global economy. Written for professors, adjuncts, graduate students, and academic, political, business, and not-for-profit leaders, this data-rich study offers a balanced assessment of the risks and opportunities posed for the American faculty by economic, market-driven forces beyond their control.

About the Authors

Martin J. Finkelstein is a professor of higher education at Seton Hall University. Valerie Martin Conley is the dean of the College of Education at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. Jack H. Schuster is professor emeritus of education and public policy and a senior research fellow at Claremont Graduate University. Schuster and Finkelstein are the coauthors of The New Academic Generation: A Profession in Transformation and The American Faculty: The Restructuring of Academic Work and Careers.

Endorsements

A tour de force. This exhaustive, extremely well-written compendium on how the 'condition' of the faculty has transformed in recent decades is truly a magnum opus.

- Cathy A. Trower, author of Success on the Tenure Track: Five Keys to Faculty Job Satisfaction

The Faculty Factor is the book we’ve needed for two decades. It describes the composition of the professoriate with overwhelming data on every dimension that planners and faculty members could conceivably want. It updates the authors’ previous magisterial work and goes beyond it with new information on the progress in hiring of women and members of minority groups and the more ambiguous patterns in promotion and tenure. It demarcates differences by field, type of institution, and even previous career patterns. Everyone who cares about the quality of American higher education must read this book and keep a copy ready-at-hand.

- Richard Ekman, Council of Independent Colleges
Johns Hopkins University Press
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Professorial Pathways

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The American Faculty

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