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Policy Perspectives

"Op. Cit."
December 2001
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This essay, based on a national roundtable convened jointly by the Knight Collaborative, the Association of Research Libraries, and the National Humanities Alliance, is a companion piece to the March 1998 issue of Policy Perspectives, "To Publish and Perish." Like the earlier essay, "Op. Cit." concerns the academy s ability to sustain and develop a system of scholarly communication that makes individual contributions to the knowledge base broadly accessible for judgment both within and among academic disciplines. The essay focuses particularly on the concerns of scholars in the humanities and certain disciplines within the social sciences that have close affinities with the humanities. The societal tendency through the latter half of the twentieth century has been to value the practical advances in science, medicine, and technology over scholarship in such areas as literature, language, history, philosophy, politics, and art. Some fear that the very idiom of scientific research, with its emphasis on expediency of dissemination, may overshadow a more reflective model of scholarship in which publication is the result of an individual scholar's work to develop, extend, or refine the state of thinking in a particular subject.

The essay argues that scholars in the humanities and social sciences have a special opportunity—some would say a special obligation—to engage the broader public in the scholarly questions they pose and address. Exploring the possibilities of electronic publication offers one potential means of expanding the audience for work in these fields. The essay identifies several instances of scholarly projects and partnerships that hold the promise of bringing scholarly work in these fields to a wider audience through electronic publication. The essay also stresses the need for higher education institutions to educate scholars about copyright and related issues, and to consider new models for meeting the costs of scholarly communication and publication.


"Gender Intelligence"
September 2001
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This essay is based on a Roundtable on the Opportunities for Women Higher Education, convened jointly by the American Association of University Women and the Knight Collaborative. "Gender Intelligence" examines factors that often impede the ability of women faculty members to experience the same opportunities and rewards as their male colleagues. While women make up nearly half of all higher education faculty in the ranks of instructor and assistant professor, women account for only 20 percent of full professors nationwide. The most formidable barriers that women encounter in the academy are in seeking promotion to the senior ranks and flourishing once they are there. The essay examines cultural forces that result in repeated, often unconscious devaluation of women faculty in their efforts to gain professional recognition and advancement. It calls on the leadership of institutions to develop a greater capacity to entertain conflict to hear the stories that delineate the experiences that men and women have in the course of a faculty career.

The essay's recommendation sketch the broad outlines of a cultural change that needs to occur throughout higher education. It calls on institutions to: recast the canonical picture of what it means to be on a successful career track; make leaders of those who understand the need for change; create productive venues for the telling and hearing of stories; systematically review institutional data comparing the professional experience of women and men; develop policies and programs that support faculty who seek a balance between the demands of career and family; and heighten the awareness of how the devaluation of women faculty persists in higher education.


"Gender Intelligence" - Exemplars: "Tusculum College"
September 2001
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In the late 1980s, this liberal arts college faced a pattern of steady decline in student enrollment, campus morale, academic standards, financial support, and institutional reputation. Tusculum reversed this pattern by uniting faculty, administration, staff, and trustees in a process to renew the academic and financial vitality of the college by focusing on civic engagement as the foundation of a liberal arts education.


"Inside Out"
March 2001
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What kinds of skills does higher education need to have—now and in the future? What strategies must higher education institutions pursue to produce and retain managers with the skills necessary to be effective? This essay, based on a roundtable convened jointly by the Knight Collaborative and the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), calls for a reconceptualization of the skills and experience required of higher education managers. At a time when new knowledge, new technologies, new markets, and new demands for service and accountability are reshaping higher education, colleges and universities are clinging to a parochial set of notions about the job descriptions and skills needed by those who would lead and manage the enterprise. The essay argues that without a substantial departure from current practice and habits of mind within the academy, a formidable gap will develop between the level of managerial skill required in the future and what is actually at hand within many higher education institutions. While institutions often turn to outsourcing as a way to fill their own skills gap, an over-reliance on this approach allows an institution to avoid the redefining of managerial tasks and qualifications it needs to attract the talent it requires.

The essay's recommendations call on higher education institutions to: develop purposeful strategies for attracting and retaining skilled managers, including those whose training and backgrounds fall outside of the traditional box; accord managers a license to take risks and reward those whose successful innovations advance institutional goals; and rethink internal career paths—trapping no one, but at the same time holding every manager truly accountable for the meeting of institutional goals. The essay recommends that institutions be cautious in outsourcing strategic decisions, keeping in mind that as more of the important and rewarding work takes place outside a given organization it becomes a fundamentally less interesting place for creative people to work.