SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



Faculty vs. Staff in Education
By Robert D. Warner


January 02, 2006

While Professor Landis presents a somewhat lengthy and elitist view of facility-staff relations in American education, some excellent points are made in his article.  To be clear, in higher education, those who teach, engage in institution supported research, provide professional counseling, or library services are usually considered faculty.  Those whose primary duty is supervision of faculty are considered administrators and those who provide important support services are called classified or technical staff.
Historically, educational administrators gained their positions after years of successful experience in the classroom.  Often as administrators,  they would continue to teach part time, provide student counseling or continue research in their professional fields.  Tragically, this is not often the case today.  Educational administrators are frequently professional bureaucrats whose focus is on political correctness rather than professional ethics.  In one blatant case on the UAS Ketchikan Campus in the 1990's, a incompetent administrator actually boasted about "failing as a history teacher before going into administration."
New teachers sometimes face demoralizing low salaries and corrupt practices of merit pay systems.  There are, however, equally frustrating problems of excessive pay for educational and other public administrators.  How can we cap and reduce administrative pay?  Why do we have to pay university chancellors and provosts such excessively high salaries?   I have wondered why we cannot hire administrative positions on term contracts; before the terms expire, put positions out to competetive bid to see if other qualified candidates are willing work at lower rates.
Professor Landis is absolutely correct in describing demeaning references that educational administrators frequently make in describing "my staff" or "my school."  These bureaucrats clearly do not own the staff, faculty, or the school.  Faculty, however, should not fall into the same trap by using terms such as "my class," or "my students", or "my library, etc."
The claim that educational administrators often do not receive rigorous assessment and evaluation that faculty do is also a excellent point.  They certainly need it!   In Alaska, university administrators do not even have to earn a state certification and keep it current. There is a absence of quality control standards for their performance.  Sadly, there are cases at UAS  where provosts, deans, and vice chancellors have not had meaningful evaluations in the past 30 years.  How in the world can we know if these folks are competent enough to be evaluating faculty, if they are not being regorously evaluated on a regular basis? 
I believe that the hidden danger is that educators today tend to present themselves with elitist images that they are somehow superior to other occupations and groups.  Let's not forget that our best teachers often come from our parents, families, and the world of work rather than from the ivory tower!
Robert D. Warner
Ketchikan, AK - USA

About: Robert D. Warner is a retired Associate Professor of Library Science, UA Ketchikan and Ketchikan resident since 1972.

Related Viewpoint:

letter We profess; we teach. We are faculty. By Rod Landis - Ketchikan, AK - USA



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Ketchikan, Alaska