MCSU Northridge at the Crossroads: Which Path to the Future.

Dr. William M. Plater
Executive Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Faculties
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)

March 19, 2004

Note: This address also is available inf PDF format. Also available at this site are the responses by the panelists.


Last evening, I spoke to many of you about my own institution, and how it--like CSU Northridge--is on a journey to an uncertain future. Like you, we are trying to reduce the possibilities of finding ourselves in the wrong place by trying to map a future. It is not accidental that both of our institutions have relied on metaphors of "way finding" and direction to help orient us to the task at hand. If nothing else, it is comforting to know that others are on the same, or similar, path. But always in the back of our minds, there is the unanswered question--are we on the "right" path.

By talking with each other we can reduce the anxiety and even reduce the odds for taking wrong turns. But we can also draw on the maps and reports of others who have passed along the same way. Just as I hope IUPUI's experiences will be of use to you, I am learning much from CSU Northridge that I will take back to Indiana. We need to be resources for each other.

There is another important resource that I want to introduce into our conversation this morning, and that is the "Greater Expectations" project of AAC&U. I hope you have all seen the report, Greater Expectations: A New Vision for Learning as a Nation Goes to College. This fundamentally important report sets forth the facts about the role of the baccalaureate and, specifically, general education in the life of the nation. It is the single best report on the value and nature of the baccalaureate to be issued in the past 20 years. It is necessary reading. It provides a common frame of reference and nomenclature for discussing issues across intuitional types and geographic differences. It helps create a sense of national purpose and individual responsibility for collective action. Although IUPUI is one of the participating institutions in the national demonstration project, and I am thus slightly biased, I believe it is a conceptual work of value to us all.

I was asked to give the keynote address at a meeting last November of the participants in the "Greater Expectations" project. This speech contains my best effort to create a context within which we can place the individual strategies being implemented at places like IUPUI or CSU Northridge to address the urgency of reforming our curriculum to meet social needs, and to restore the baccalaureate to a place of necessity. I am not going to summarize or even draw substantially on this speech, but if you have any interest in what I have to say to you this morning, I hope you'll look at it. It's online at AAC&U's website for the "Greater Expectations" project. Instead of restating the key ideas these existing documents, I would like to begin my remarks with the challenges set forth by President Jolene Koester's speech last August.

Jolene's Convocation speech is a wonderful foundation for an important conversation. You don't have to agree with her, or accept her choice of terms, to understand the need to engage with the challenges placed before you. The national issues she names are real and affect us all even if they have particular and special meaning in your unique context here. Across the country, we are all addressing:

  • Demand for access;
  • Resources; and
  • Accountably for results.

My work with Carol Schneider and Andrea Leskes at AAC&U, with Alan Guskin and Mary Marcy on the Project on the Future of Higher Education, and with Russ Edgerton on the Pew Forum on Undergraduate Learning--very different projects--converge in the three points Jolene is raising. They are as important to me and IUPUI as they are to you. These issues are fundamental, structural, and lasting-beyond our individual careers or the current state budget crisis. The fact that many people are working on them across the nation should give CSU faculty the confidence to be imaginative and bold, because no one yet has the right answers.

AAC&U--along with many others--is trying to address the issues of demand, both as a practical matter of accommodating larger numbers of students for whom baccalaureate education is important and as a restatement of the value of baccalaureate learning as inherently valuable in its own right, and not merely as a credential. The Report cites interesting data to make its case, including the fact that 87% of the nation's population believes that a baccalaureate is as important now as the high school diploma used to be. It is no wonder that CSU is facing such enormous pressure to admit more students. But the value of the report is in explaining why this degree actually has real value--and can make a difference in the lives of individuals and in the life of the nation. In the past few months, this discussion has taken on a new edge, fueled largely by the movement of white collar jobs off shore to places like India. It is estimated that 3.3 million white collar jobs will move out of the country by 2015. As multiple articles in theNew York Times (and other papers) over the past few weeks have illustrated, there is a growing awareness that the baccalaureate by itself is not a ticket to happiness and prosperity. Last month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics issued a report saying that 7 of the 10 occupations with the greatest growth through 2012 will be low-wage--typically under $18,000 per year. The Bureau also says that the percentage of baccalaureate degree holders holding jobs--about 76%--is at the lowest level in more than 25 years. Currently 2.5 college grads are getting jobs for every 3.5 degrees being awarded. This is clearly a time to reconsider, and perhaps to recenter, baccalaureate education--not because it is less valuable as a credential but because it is more essential as a means for adapting to growing volatility and uncertainty in social, economic, and political life. The Greater Expectations report provides both the vehicle and the catalyst for such a rich discussion.

At the same time, Alan Guskin and Mary Marcy have been leading a group of about 15 people for the past three years in addressing the resource issues facing higher education. The results of their work has appeared in several leading publications, including the July/August 2003 issue of Change, in which they outline three key organizing principles with seven transformative steps for addressing a permanent change in the support of higher education. Their analysis calls for fundamental restructuring of both mission and processes-in administration as well as teaching. In their view, survival rests on each institution's having a clear, coherent vision of its future focused on three things: student learning, the quality of faculty life, and reduced costs. This article is just as important as Greater Expectations; it is an invaluable guide and catalyst in addressing how to use the resources at hand to achieve the mission of the institution in the face of growing demand. I commend it highly.

And the work of Russ Edgerton--begun when he was president of AAHE and continued during nearly a decade of work at Pew and the resulting Forum on Undergraduate Learning--has focused our attention on the issues of accountability. Russ has helped us understand not only why the public-including trustees, legislators, parents, and others-is interested in what the outcomes of a baccalaureate degree are, but also what the degree means. Accountability is a process issue. The real issue is what does the degree itself mean, and how do we know. Russ, along with an advisory group of about 10 people, is preparing a new white paper on accountability and learning outcomes that will culminate his efforts to explain why we need to shift our work as faculty from fragmented processes of individual teaching to a collective responsibility for learning as a matter of professional responsibility and integrity.

I want to cite these three very prominent, nationally significant activities as an indication that the issues currently before you at CSU Northridge are also part of the national agenda. Your work is part of a national reform movement affecting the very nature of higher education--whether we want it or are ready for it--or not. Very good minds are trying to come to terms with exactly the same issues you are addressing. Those special universities that recognize what is happening, and seize the moment, have the potential both to reshape American higher education and to secure a place for themselves in the future that is relatively and comparatively better than most. You don't have to agree with Jolene or accept her nomenclature--as long as you recognize that what is now required is faculty effort to come to terms with the issues, by whatever name and in whatever fashion. The President can identify the problems, she can point to the future, she can lead, but the faculty have to accept responsibility for change.

Just to give a platform for remaking the agenda as a faculty agenda, I want to propose slightly different terms than suggested by Jolene in her Convocation speech.

Instead of thinking about demand and the incredible burden of serving more students with constant or diminished resources, ask yourselves instead what the mission of CSU Northridge actually is. Is it to graduate a certain number or percentage of students--perhaps in certain fields, such as education or business? Is the primary response to demand asking for more resources or, alternatively, becoming more selective so you serve only those whom you admit? Is your mission to pick winners and losers? Or is it to develop the region's human capital? And if it is, how do your admissions decisions correlate with your graduation rates? Does CSU have a responsibility to ensure that students who are admitted have the support they need to graduate? What is the purpose and value of the degrees you award--are they more than temporary tickets to a first job? If they are primarily job-related credentials, then you need to be concerned about the Labor Bureau's data. How does your mission determine or guide your response to demand? If your degrees are intended for more enduring purposes, how can you justify them in today's marketplace economy? If your retention rates are not what they should be, how can you accept the lost opportunities for the development of the region's human potential?

Consider the sobering report of the National Governor's Association released last year. The gap in income between those with baccalaureate degrees--who earn on average $46,300--and those with less than a high school diploma--who earn on average $21,400--by itself defines a major class and social issue. Who are to be the winners and who the losers? What is CSU Northridge's responsibility in providing access to students so that they may enjoy the "good life" because they have completed degrees that actually are the foundation for a successful life? At IUPUI, we graduate less than 25% of those whom we admit. We have high standards, but there is something very wrong with our ability to achieve our mission. This is not an issue that can be ignored.

Put differently, the gap between the state's responsibility for providing social services, on the one hand, and its opportunity to collect taxes on incomes at higher levels, on the other, represents a gap of about $1M for each person who does not have a baccalaureate degree. In a state whose current deficit is second only to the United States', this gap is more than a theoretical issue. This analysis is a matter of public policy debate and should engage your legislators and the tax payers alike--as well as the faculty. Without any doubt, the pressure on CSU to serve more students will persist, even if the driving rationale-better paid workers-may be flawed, or at least incomplete.

But more sobering is the fact that nationally, one third-33%--of the young people who enter high school do not leave with a regular diploma. Some of this missing third may earn a GED or some other alternative credential, but the success of these students in subsequent tries at college is so low that the GED is not a viable pathway to the baccalaureate for most. Worse, in many urban school districts, the drop out rate is as high as 60%, including my own city of Indianapolis.

Of all the students who enter high school, only half actually enter college. In survey after survey, however, high school students, and their parents, expect to attend college. Nationally, 90% of high school seniors say they plan to go onto college. Of those who enter--whether a community college or a four year college--only half graduate in three years with an associate degree or in six years with a baccalaureate. Of every 100 students who enter high school, only 18 earn either a baccalaureate within six years or an associate's degree within three years of entering college. Apart from lost potential earning power, this unsuccessful 82% may have also lost the best possible means to construct a personally satisfying future.

But the odds are even worse for the populations most in need of college as the means for social and economic improvement. White students are twice as likely as African American or Hispanic students to graduate. Emigrants, low income, and minority students are the fastest growing portion of our population. In the next 50 years--which is the time frame we should be planning to address--it is estimated that 97% of the NET change in the workforce will be accounted for by these populations--the very groups most likely to be excluded from baccalaureate degrees.

What is the mission of CSU Northridge? What is its responsibility for meeting this challenge? How can this region of California prosper if a large portion of the population is disenfranchised? If you can't meet demand using conventional and historical approaches, what alternatives might make sense? The issue, I think, is mission.

President Koester has linked demand with mission, and she is right to do so. I think the response you will make to demand will be inherently resolved as you address the issue of mission, and how this campus will serve its region and state. At IUPUI, I have begun to articulate my vision for our campus in terms of making central Indiana one of the world's 50 most attractive and competitive places to work and live because of the quality of life brought about through the discovery, dissemination and application of knowledge and learning. This places IUPUI at the very center of the region's future but our mission is not to make ourselves better or to look better in national rankings. Instead, we are to be judged by what we can do to respond to the place where we are located. We intend to be a global competitor in research because we know that the discovery of ideas and their uses will fuel our economy and drive our engagement with the community. We also know that we will not be attractive unless the quality of life and the economic benefits extend to the whole community, not just an elite portion.

This vision is shaping our plans at IUPUI for how we meet demand. I will focus on this in a few minutes, but our plans involve the secondary schools, the community college, graduate programs, and life long learning with the baccalaureate degree serving as the focal point, the culmination, of an educated citizenry who is prepared for work, prepared for citizenship, and prepared for a self-directed life. We need to address demand not by picking winners but by creating the means for a whole society to develop its human potential for the betterment of all.

I want to offer you a challenge-the same challenge I am making to my own faculty colleagues at IUPUI. If we understand that issues of mission require that we address access in new ways, and if we understand that accountability for results is not a fad but a permanent and growing factor in determining resources and their allocation to particular programs, how can we--as faculty--gain control over what happens in the academy? I believe the answer to these questions lies in understanding what the purpose of the baccalaureate is, what must define it as a set of measurable results, what it distinctively means to be a graduate of CSU Northridge and not some other college, and what contributes to student achievement in and out of the classroom.

In my view, the underlying concept that links these questions is remembering that what is important is the success of individual students--the learning achievements of one student at a time. Institutional data is useful in reporting results to legislative study commissions, trustees, and the parents of prospective students, but what matters is the ability of each graduate to succeed in life based on the undergraduate degree we have helped them achieve. Learning must be organized and integrated from the perspective of the individual student's life experiences, not from normative standards and averages that mask the incredible variety and richness of individual lives. No longer can the idea of a single, standard set of requirements pass for a meaningful degree while allowing such incredible latitude in what courses students take. How many sections of writing or American history or introductory psychology have consistency of purpose and common measures of achievement? The answer is not a singular, lock-step curriculum applied indifferently to everyone, nor is it random choices of the cafeteria system of learning now in fashion. Instead, what is required is a system for creating coherence, integration, and meaning from the electives, major requirements, general education programs, and co-curricular activities that make up the college experience. But that is not all. How does the baccalaureate degree relate to high school or to a graduate degree? If a student--as more than half do--attends two or three other colleges, how do those experiences connect with the place that is awarding the degree? And how do personal goals for learning fit into the expectations and requirements of universities?

The answer lies within the facile term of being a "learning centered institution" and making each of our students, in the words of the Greater Expectations report, an "intentional learner." The words are easy to say, but it is much more difficult to reach agreement on what being "learning-centered" means here at CSU Northridge--as translated into expectations for students and the work of faculty. It's not my job to give you the formula for your campus or even to outline the steps you might take in achieving consensus. I can refer you to the Greater Expectations report for this, but I would say that there is growing consensus that we must all address three major elements of baccalaureate education as a nation: one is the skills of inquiry and intellectual development, another is specific knowledge that serves as a foundation for acquiring knowledge perpetually, and the third is a set of competencies or abilities such as critical thinking, awareness of the responsibilities of citizenship, effective contexts for accommodating differences, or the capacity for reflection and change. In a recent follow-up to the national report, Carol Schneider of AAC&U has issued a call for institutional self-assessment based on how well we are doing in the formative themes of re-inventing liberal education. She names three main areas of concern: cultivating inquiry skills and intellectual judgment; social responsibility and civic engagement; and integrative and culminating studies. This is another way of asking us as faculty to be self-aware and intentional in our understanding of what the baccalaureate means.

So, if we try to bring together the threads of our conversation about mission, student demand, public expectations, accountability, and a sense that the answer lies in becoming learning centered and supportive of intentional learners, what do we have? As I have begun to say to faculty at IUPUI, I think we have a chance to remake higher education and create a new model of student success that reconceives the uncertain, ambiguous, and even disputed territory of the 10th to 14th grades. At the moment, there is a gap--even a gulf-separating high school from college. Across the country, community colleges are playing a vague and even disconnected role in bridging high school and the baccalaureate. Although we are each concerned about the shared region we serve, and even though we say we are concerned about the success of individuals, we do little to help our students pass through a bewildering maze of policies, practices, requirements, and expectations. What if we were to refocus our understanding of mission and our responsibility to a geographic region on individual student learning without first trying to preserve the artificial distinctions of grade levels and institutional types? Learning does not occur in the regimented ways that the bureaucracy seems to presume, so why do we perpetuate it? Or at least why don't we do something to make sure that there is a connection among the parts for the benefit of individual students? How many of you have ever had conversations on behalf of your university with either high school teachers or community college teachers about what they are teaching and why? Do you know if the expectations of the schools that send you most of your matriculating students match your entrance requirements? What is the alignment of school diplomas and graduation with college entrance requirements and placement examinations? And more complicated, how does the community college vision of a learning community correspond to that of CSU Northridge? If you have achieved a degree of coherence and alignment that makes it easy for students to navigate among these three educational systems, my hat is off to you, and I would like to begin to cite you as a national model. If you have not yet achieved this goal but are working on it, more power to you. But if you--like we at IUPUI--are only becoming dimly aware of how much more individual students could achieve if we--as educators--took the responsibility of connecting the learning goals and pedagogies, then we have a major opportunity that is both self-serving and empowering for the geographic regions we serve.

Drawing from the strategies for learning-centered university education, let me offer a few examples of where we might begin to reform our practices.

First, there are Learning Communities. As you have probably done here, many colleges have begun to create learning communities that make intentional linkages among courses so that students not only can see that learning in one discipline relates to another but actually experience it because faculty coordinate assignments and learning goals among two, three or even four courses--building a sense of community among students, who can then rely on each other out of the classroom to advance learning in a variety of ways. Led by Barbara Smith, this innovation has had as much impact on both changing practices of faculty and universities as it has on conditioning students to think differently about their learning. In the process, learning communities are leading many students to change their expectations for what a degree might mean. What if learning communities involved not only students from CSU but advanced students from the area high schools and community college students who are planning to transfer to CSU to complete their baccalaureates? Could there not be a real value to individual learning in bridging not only the intellectual domains but also the bureaucratic ones?

And what about Active Pedagogies? There is wide-spread evidence that active pedagogies such as undergraduate research, service learning, clinical experiences, and internships have very positive impacts on student retention, achievement, and ability to connect courses. Many students now have service learning experiences in high school, and growing numbers of community colleges are adapting this mode of learning. Similarly, research has become an option for many high-performing high school students, especially during the summers. What if we were to think about ways to build on active pedagogies across institutional types and grade levels with the goal of having a cumulative impact that greatly exceeds experiences in isolated courses?

We all know that Faculty Development is important. Few universities have succeeded in creating learning centered campuses without carefully planned faculty development programs. At IUPUI, we have made a special effort to have joint projects focused on Gateway courses--the 25 or so lower division courses that account for nearly 40% of our total undergraduate enrollment. We are engaging both the full time faculty course supervisors and part time faculty in thinking about who is best able to help students succeed by looking at the tasks that need to be done instead of the people doing them. We now see value in engaging faculty from the near-by community college in this work because their courses need to fill the same place in our degree expectations as our own courses at IUPUI. But why not extend these programs to high school teachers, making modifications in the programming that respects the demands on their schedules by using distance learning and alternative time slots. We now have at least annual conferences for high school teachers in several disciplines with our own faculty. They come together to talk about pedagogy and advances in the disciplines. I just spoke to a conference of high school psychology teachers last week, and we discussed the value of beginning to reconceive of student learning in a more intentionally related fashion. They were quite excited about the idea, and it will be energizing to all of us if we can find a meaningful way to connect.

Too often, most universities take Learning Environments for granted. Having just completed a major renovation in your buildings, and having had cause to think about the learning environment because of the earthquake, I am certain faculty here have a heightened awareness of how the physical environment shapes students' learning experiences. As we begin to develop classrooms, laboratories, informal learning spaces, and virtual spaces to match pedagogies and restated objectives, why not consider how our university environments relate to those of high schools and community colleges. If we need to create spaces that allow team work and student-to-student interaction, can these strategies be made more effective if teachers at schools and community colleges also understand how we are adapting our spaces to fit learning goals. How do the learning environments-formal and informal--at high schools and community colleges condition students to learn when they arrive on our campuses? Why not make use of each other's special physical assets and resources. IUPUI offers credit and noncredit courses in over 30 sites throughout our region, including many at high schools. But we have not yet been able to exploit this linkage to enhance learning.

And then there is Technology. Of course the possibilities of linking courses offered among institutions via technology can make the practical aspects of teaching among the three levels of learning more feasible. Already, I suspect you are offering courses or Advanced Placement programs to students in high schools via distance technologies. But what if we coordinated curricular objectives in key subjects like mathematics, writing, or science so that students could progress at their own rate without having to change their physical or social settings. Why should a junior in high school or a freshman at a community college have to leave his community of friends and his support structure to take courses at the university, which may be some distance away? More importantly, why do we leave to students the task of sorting out what progress along a continuum of skills in math, writing, oral communication, foreign languages, and dozens of other disciplines has to do with arbitrary standards set by faculties in schools, community colleges, and universities when learning should be continuous? Why can we not align our learning objectives and let students progress at their own rates?
Would we not be better served as a university if we received students who were prepared to learn in ways that matched our expectations? If the technology creates the capacity for students to pursue independent inquiry as a mode of learning, would we not welcome that experience in our own courses?

For many faculty, Assessment has become a dirty word because it is often associated with criticism of what we are doing. But we need to use assessment as our own tool. As we become learning centered, we know that what is important is student success, which means we have to have clear goals for students and be able to assess both their progress and their achievement in mastering the competencies that match our goals. Any one who has redesigned her course based on outcomes knows that there is a fundamental change in the organization of the course and even the use of materials. Important as adapting learning goals to individual courses may be, the cumulative impact of aligning learning goals of separate courses into coherent degree programs is even more critical. As already suggested earlier, we need to understand what competence or mastery at the high school level means for admission to the university, and we need to know what success at the community college--whether reflected in an associate's degree or some other measure--means for transfer to CSU Northridge. If we begin to align our learning objectives among the three categories of institutions, would we improve the chances of student success and enhance the level of actual achievement?

Finally, I would call attention to Student Electronic Portfolios. In recent years, a great deal of attention has been given to collecting information about student achievement in portfolios-especially electronic portfolios which allow levels of complexity and interactivity that would not be possible with paper. Portfolios give institutions--whether high schools, community colleges, or universities--the means of connecting individual courses into meaningful patterns that transcend degree requirements and build a coherent, connected, whole education. Moreover, as students move about higher education-often attending 2-4 post-secondary institutions over a period of years-the portfolio permits a constant reference and a means for students to build meaning out of separate experiences while respecting the differences among institutions. If the baccalaureate from CSU Northridge is distinctive in some important ways, can it still accommodate students who come from CSU Monterey Bay or Humboldt State or nearby community colleges?

Of course there are many other aspects of learning-center institutions, but these examples may be useful in helping us adapt what we are now doing at the university to our colleagues in high schools and community colleges.

So, I would like to support President Koester's call to redirect CSU Northridge toward learning centered processes, but with a grander vision for what you can do for the public you serve and for the actual achievement of individual students. By working with, among and through colleagues at the high school and community colleges levels, you-we-can do a better job of preparing graduates for the life and for the world that awaits them. They will leave not only with a degree but with the skills, abilities, and values necessary to be successful, life-long learners.

As a concluding point, I want to address the third of President Koester's challenges--resources. As Alan Guskin argues--convincingly, I believe--we must move from trying to do all things for all people to a much more focused and purposeful use of resources in achieving mission. This is not to argue that new degree programs should not be created, but instead to say we need to know what we are doing, why, how much it costs, and how it helps us achieve our mission. Even as we are eliminating some programs or activities, we may create new ones. The heart of the Guskin argument focuses on the baccalaureate and the processes of making our universities more learning centered as the most efficient and effective way to use resources.

There are many things we can do as we analyze the use of resources from this perspective, and I hope you will undertake a systematic study. We are doing this now at IUPUI--taking a look at the implications for current programs under certain assumptions about income and costs over the next decade. While there are variations among the schools, the campus as a whole has a structural deficit of about 25% in ten years according to our model, meaning that we clearly cannot continue in the present mode of incremental change and accommodation. We will--like you, I hope--be focusing our attention on results and outcomes that are driven by our mission.

While it is too early to see clearly what changes will be made, I can say with certainty that the area most likely to be affected is the work of faculty. About 80% of our operations budget--excluding the physical plant--is tied up in personnel costs, and of this about two-thirds is related directly to teaching, research and service. Most of our costs are centered in faculty. We are on a collision course with the future if we do not find a way to balance mission, resources, and costs. President Koester has noted that CSU Northridge, on a per student basis, has only 88% of the resources you had just seven years ago to pay for operating costs at a time when demand is likely to result in even lower ratios. She--like most college presidents--is asking that we now engage in transformational change instead of tinkering or "muddling through."

Based on my earlier two points of asking you to think about demand for access to college as a matter of mission and institutional responsibility and about becoming learning centered in a broader, more inclusive way that remakes the middle ground of the 10th through 14th grades, I now want to ask that you consider addressing President Koester's biggest challenge by rethinking the role of faculty and staff in meeting your mission and in making sure that students succeed. Through attention to mission, we address CSU Northridge's responsibly to society. Through learning-centered processes, we address our responsibility to individual learners. And by considering how to meet both responsibilities without insisting that we continue to work in the same ways we have for the past century, we can meet our responsibility to ourselves. For if we cannot do something to create a quality of life and a tangible sense of accomplishment, how do we expect to attract faculty of ability in the future?

Because we are running short of time, I will speak only in the broadest terms. I would call to your attention an interview in the most recent issue of Change; Gene Rice interviews Martin Finkelstein and Jack Schuster in a truly cogent discussion of the imminent restructuring of faculty work. Finkelstein and Schuster are leading the project on the "American Faculty" resulting so far in a book titled The New Academic Generation and later this year will issue a second study titled "The American Faculty: The Restructuring of Academic Life."

What I want to suggest is that when we look at what needs to be done, we can see ways to use teachers in high schools and faculty in the community colleges as part of our resource base. By taking advantage of technology and by understanding what the components of student learning actually are, we can restructure our work as faculty to make better use of a full array of talents. The first step might be in considering how the work of faculty can be disaggregated so that one person is not solely responsible for the full range of learning activities--creating courses, developing content, delivering content, advising and mentoring, assessing performance, and certifying competence and credentials. Among all of these separate processes, what activities are essential for faculty to perform, and what could be assigned to others? Could learning actually be enhanced if many faculty focused their knowledge and time on only one or two of the production functions? Can we both increase performance and reduce costs by such role differentiation? If applied to a continuum of learning among advanced high school grades, the community college, and the first two years of college, how could faculty at the university use their expertise more efficiently and effectively to help students learn?

This process or role differentiation is already well under way. Over half of the college teaching in the nation is accounted for by persons who are not traditional faculty-tenured or on the tenure track. At IUPUI, already 40% of the FULL TIME academic appointees have positions that are not eligible for tenure-and that proportion is likely to be more than half within the next five years. Finkelstein and Schuster have found nationally that in 2001 55.4% of all FULLTIME faculty were hired off the tenure track, and the trend line, they say, is accelerating.

How can we expand the roles and responsibilities of a wide range of talented colleagues-student affairs personnel, librarians, technicians, advisors, graduate students, and many other university titles-to become partners and collaborators with faculty in achieving mission without first trying to preserve a work and life style that seems immutable? If we were to work with high school teachers and community college faculty to redefine who does what, when and in what alignment, could we actually admit more students with the current resource base and redesign our programs so that the baccalaureate is no loner principally a job ticket but an actual foundation for life-long learning? If we reconceive of our work to include professionals from libraries, student life, learning centers, or technical services as members of a team with an equal stake in results, can the faculty find the same satisfaction in that work if they do not retain a hierarchically superior role?

I am bold enough to think we can. There is a certain level of inevitability to the three challenges you are facing. With no action on your part, demand and resources will cause fundamental changes in this institution. But so will the pressure to be responsible for results-to be learning centered and to make the degrees we award have practical and intrinsic value that is life long. The best approach I can see to integrate our response to these challenges is to seize upon the opportunity to become a learning centered institution and to imagine a future that is enticing and hopeful instead of frightening and pessimistic. We do that by planning our future instead of waiting for it to happen to us.

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Posted March 2004