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Posts Tagged ‘Financial Stability of Private Colleges’

At my current institution, there is a constant battle between faculty members who are interested in preserving the mission of the school and administrators who are interested in preserving the financial stability of the school. Unfortunately, the perspectives of these parties are often at odds. For example, although the creation of programs for non-traditional students several decades ago essentially saved the school financially, there are some faculty members who feel that this move took our institution down a path from which it cannot return. These tensions were present when I visited five years ago, but they have increased recently as continued financial struggles require faculty members to take on more responsibilities without the possibility of raises.

As a result of these tensions, during interviews (whether phone, Skype, or campus) one of the questions that I asked nearly everybody concerned the relationship between the faculty and administration and my questions for administrators always focused on their goals for the institution and how they saw their institution fitting into the changing landscape of higher education in the next few decades. Answers to these questions differed dramatically based on the institution’s financial stability. Those at wealthier schools focused on their vision for the college and ways that they were trying to improve student experiences while those at schools with fewer resources talked about how “every school” experiences financial difficulties that cause tensions between the faculty and administration.

Even at the most elite private schools, with endowments measured in the billions, financial resources affect academic decisions. I am interested in seeing, however, how these tensions will play out at my new, more financially stable institution in the fall. Although there are no special programs for nontraditional students, there is certainly a large number of underpaid adjuncts teaching important courses that allow the school to function. It will also be interesting to track my own perceptions of these differences, such as whether I will see things as less problematic than faculty members who have not worked at schools with fewer resources. In any event, raises will be nice. (Clearly, this is proof that I have already sold out!)

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