Archive for Friday, September 29, 1995


September 29, 1995


A new study indicates research -- not teaching -- is what drives Kansas Board of Regents universities.

State universities in Kansas urge young scholars to be prolific researchers rather than spellbinding teachers, a new study of faculty opinion says.

"In the three-part mission of a university -- teaching, research and service -- teaching was coming out second-best," said Dominic Guzzetta, visiting professor in the Jones Institute for Educational Excellence at Emporia State University.

Guzzetta, former president of the University of Akron who lives in Las Cruces, N.M., interviewed 40 faculty at the six universities in the Kansas Board of Regents system, including Kansas University.

He chronicled their views on teaching and research and presented his findings to regents in a report.

Faculty interviewed had an average of 14 years of teaching experience. He spoke to full professors, associate professors and assistant professors on condition their identities not be revealed.

Major conclusions of Guzzetta's report:

  • Most went to work at a university primarily to teach, but research and public service demands frequently drew their energy away.
  • Faculty gravitate toward professional activities where rewards are the greatest; their perception is rewards are geared to research and publications.
  • Faculty see merit in broadening the definition of research and scholarship to relate more to the teaching process.

Alan Black, KU president of Faculty Senate and professor of architecture, said most KU faculty understood that star power came from construction of a body of published work instead of teaching.

"At least while untenured, there is pressure to publish, to do research," Black said.

Official KU policy is that teaching and research carry the same weight in terms of raises and promotions.

However, Guzzetta said expectations for research production continued to grow while the standard for teaching remained the same.

The reality is that regents universities placed a premium on research. For example, universities make money when a faculty member obtains a research grant. There's not an equivalent financial incentive for universities to raise the level of teaching.

``The reward system is geared pretty much to performing at that level, more so than teaching,'' Guzzetta said.

He said university leaders should accept as academically respectable the faculty whose preference is primarily teaching.

"I notice some faculty really not interested in teaching," Black said, "but probably a majority would spend more time teaching if they could."

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