KU's chancellor offered his thoughts about changes university faculty may experience by 2005.
Kansas University Chancellor Robert Hemenway said Tuesday the nation's colleges can win over a skeptical public in the next decade by significantly changing the way higher education is delivered.
"I do believe we're at kind of a crossroads, a kind of watershed at the American universities," Hemenway said.
He spoke in the Kansas Union to the KU chapter of American Association of University Professors about his vision for university faculty in 2005. About 75 faculty attended.
Hemenway said the depths that higher education had fallen in the eyes of taxpayers was alarming.
"People challenge whether or not higher education is an automatic benefit to society," he said. "I happen to think it is."
He said university faculty must respond by embracing opportunities to modify the higher education experience. Those who fail to get on the bandwagon will become academic dinosaurs, he said.
For example, Hemenway said, the professor who declines to integrate computers into his or her work risks professional ruin.
"I think you'll find yourself obsolete pretty fast," he said.
Hemenway said faculty would be expected to adapt to a new definition of workplace. No longer will anyone's work area be defined by the walls of his office or lab. KU will become an outmoded public property if its faculty don't connect more with the state's citizens, he said.
"Lawrence is not going to be the only place where the University of Kansas is happening," he said.
The chancellor said KU's academic calendar, with most classes running August to May, was outmoded. University faculty should offer students the chance to study year round at full throttle, he said.
"It's an agricultural fossil. I think we're going to be challenged to rethink that," he said.
Down the road, faculty must get away from an instructional model that brings students to class for a professor's lecture. Teachers will be more attuned to student performance than their own oratory, he said.
"Faculty in 2005 will be less concerned about seat time," Hemenway said.
Professors will be challenged to modify the curriculum, he said. For example, he said, there were too many courses in KU's catalog and too many degree paths for students.
Hemenway said a key to the university's future, and that of its faculty, was convincing the public a student gets a first-rate undergraduate education at KU. Absent that understanding, he said, taxpayers won't be enthusiastic about financing the university.
The glut of people with graduate degrees will force universities to restrict admission to the extent common in medical and law schools, Hemenway said.
Faculty tenure will come under increasing attack by people distrustful of such employment perks, Hemenway said. Faculty could respond by adopting some form of post-tenure review that offers the public evidence tenured professors remain productive employees, he said.