The Common Enterprise University and the Teaching Mission
- The Context: A Period of Hyperchange
- The Choice for Tenured Faculty: Independent Contractors or Common Enterprise Players
- The Advantages of and for the Common Enterprise Faculty
- The Responsibilities of the Common Enterprise Faculty
- The Attractiveness to Faculty of the Common Enterprise Model
- A Special Feature: The Sacred Duty and Privilege of Teaching
- Accomplishing the Teaching Mission of the Common Enterprise University
- The University Teacher
- The Arts Professor
- The Adjunct Faculty
- The Global Professor
- Cyber Faculty
In my installation address two years ago I began to articulate a vision of what I called a common enterprise university—a vision born of my observations of the NYU community during the year of transition to my presidency. One year later, I offered an elaboration of that general notion, focused on the role of faculty in the teaching mission—and most particularly the undergraduate teaching mission—of such a university. The elements I set out reflected the realities and aspirations already present at NYU. Indeed, in many ways, I simply articulated the ambitions my colleagues revealed to me in their lives and their hopes.
When I disseminated my reflection on the role of faculty in the version of a great university now embraced at NYU, I emphasized that the circulated version was not a final statement. Quite the contrary: I offered it as the beginning of an iterative process in which others were to participate—an ongoing conversation involving our entire University community and others in higher education. For a year, that conversation has developed nicely. The faculties of schools and departments have offered valuable commentary, and scores of colleagues have provided reactions and suggestions. Other stakeholders—trustees, graduates, administrators and students—also have advanced the multilogue. And I have accepted invitations to share the conversation with colleagues at other great universities.
I offer this draft as the next iteration of what I see and hear as the center of gravity of our collective sense. I anticipate and welcome reactions to this version, which can be incorporated as the process of reflection and articulation continues.
Begin with the undeniable reality that powerful forces—good and bad—are reshaping our society, our times and inevitably our University. Confronting change is not a new challenge for our universities—the present manifestations of one of humankind’s great creations, a creation which traces its existence back nearly 1,000 years. At all times, universities engage not just in the creation, transfer and translation of knowledge as received wisdom; when they are operating well, much of what they do results in a rearrangement, a revision and even replacement of what is known. It is their role not only to develop and extend, but also to challenge received wisdom and to offer improved interpretations; often, it is the role of the university to disprove what we “know” as “fact.” In this way, universities and change are inseparable.
Today, however, what our universities confront is not just change, but hyperchange—and most importantly, hyperchange in the very province in which they live and operate, the domain of knowledge and of ideas. Even the ways in which our great centers of creativity and learning operate in that domain are undergoing fundamental transformation as we witness the continuing collapse of traditional boundaries—in time, in space, in disciplines and in culture.
Universities are quite distinct kinds of organizations, unique in several ways. For example, they ordinarily will buffer their cores from the demands of society at large making only symbolic adaptations. This capacity explains in part their staying power; they are the carriers of tradition. Quite unlike the typical business firm, which could not buffer itself in the same way and survive the competitive rigors of the marketplace, they endure.
There are some desirable consequences of this lack of adaptation to the changing broader context. One is the role of the university as a “reservation” in the society, the keeper of the seed corn. Such buffering avoids the problem of overadaptation to what may turn out to be a passing change in the environment.
In my view, however, the hyperchange we face today compels dramatic adaptation within higher education, rooted in serious reflection on the nature of who we are, what we do and how we do it. In short, universities—which simultaneously serve roles as the pioneers of progress, the chroniclers of change, and the carriers of tradition—are at a critical threshold; the years ahead will see a paradigm shift in our understanding of their nature and operation.
To aspire to and achieve its own version of change, each university must shape its future through an explicit articulation of mission—an articulation which is, in our time and for each institution, the modern equivalent of what historically has been known as the ratio studiorum, a reflective statement of purpose and priorities. On this view, universities are in a race not with each other but with their own distinct vision and ideals, and are called to rethink the scope and reach of how they discover, test, convey and preserve knowledge—applying to their study of institutional self the same principles of continuous, rigorous examination and inquiry that guide academic research and dialogue.
My own university is an example of the most complex and magnificent form of higher education, the modern research university. The research university is designed to provide the broadest, deepest and most immediate forum for conversation and criticism. It does so through steadfast fidelity to two propositions which are at its core.
First, the research university must be steadfast in its defense of intellectual honesty, of pursuing leads where they go, and of listening to and being persuaded (or not) by others along the way. In short, it must nurture the quest for truths both plain and complex, and especially those truths that disturb prevailing assumptions. In this regard the university plays a very different role from the material interest of corporate research, the partisan interest of political think tanks and the more limited scope of even the best policy research institutes.
The scope of knowledge creation within the research university is ambitious and vast, running from basic research through translational research—from the breakthrough insight that has no apparent or immediate utility to the work that applies new knowledge to practical effect. And, of course, it sustains the wonderful artistic acts, from poetry to symphony to palette, from recording studio to stage to screen, which can lift us to another dimension—along with the investigation and interpretation of great creative achievements of earlier generations. As such, the research university is nothing less than the celebration, continuation, and expansion of what defines us as human, our intellectual and expressive experience and our quest for more.
Second, the research university simultaneously must deploy its agents in a powerful act of engaging students in a process of discovery and learning, one fundamentally and palpably different from that which occurs in other contexts. At least for most observers, and not least for its students, the cursus curriculum of the research university is distinct precisely because it captures the specialness of learning in the shadow of knowledge creation.
So both elements—knowledge creation and learning—are intrinsic to the research university of today, and they will be equally indispensable in years ahead. Their combination is the very ground of the research university’s being—defines its most powerful comparative advantage.
Although in this reflection I focus on the teaching mission of the research university, my focus must not distract from the central proposition that the ground of being at the great research universities is research. Universities like NYU, charged with the high task of producing tomorrow’s understanding, must provide our researchers the best colleagues and graduate students to work with, the time they need to reflect, and the necessary facilities to carry out their work. Society depends on our doing so, for a significant part of the wealth of our nation increasingly comes from innovations in technology and organization, and from the creation of new knowledge in the fields and disciplines that we study in our universities. The primary engine of this increased knowledge is the basic research created by the scientists and scholars at our research universities. And that is only part of the story. The health of our society depends on our historians, classicists, and philosophers, among others, who enrich our social discourse by bringing the wisdom and insights of the ages to bear on the questions of our day. Our research faculties bring us, to cite just a few examples, new ways to understand the workings of the brain and cure disease, better methods to design monetary policy, or a better grasp of the history of discrimination, so that we can devise better laws and make better social policies. Though the market value of this basic research often is not obvious, its social value is immense.
Seen properly, the very notion of the research university rejects the false dichotomy—too often advanced—between research and teaching. Those familiar with our great research universities know that both in theory and in fact the greatest classroom professors often are the leading thinkers in their fields. Moreover, those at universities like NYU aspire to cause our students to find excitement, delight and surprise in their learning. Our most distinguished faculty do not just teach; they strive to inspire our students, to light up their minds and to transmit the excitement of their fields. It is characteristic of our great research universities that we refuse to pass the precious opportunity to teach students the pleasure we live in discovery, in creativity, and in sheer curiosity. We will not allow our students to aspire only to a degree, to simple advancement of a career. Thus, dedication to teaching is a hallmark of our research universities, even as they accept the primary burden of advancing the frontiers of knowledge.
Nonetheless, in the days ahead, if we are to maintain and nurture our great research universities, we will be forced ask a greater number of our distinguished faculty to be engaged with our undergraduates, to teach them and to inspire them. We must make it clear to all that the false sense of dichotomy between research and teaching advanced by those who would undermine our great centers of research and learning is without foundation in fact. To do so will require even greater effort by those of us who care, no matter how taxed we already find ourselves.
What I offer today is meant as an aggressive defense of the research university. As one privileged to have studied with those who were creating the next version of the subjects they taught, I gladly join the long list of those who can attest to the magic that permeates such a learning environment. The foundation blocks of that environment are faculty whose research makes a difference in their fields and in the world—and the infrastructure of support which their work requires. Only after such a foundation is well set can we begin the process of integrating meaningful students and learning. This integration—an explicit connection of the great researchers within our universities to students at all levels—characterizes and nourishes the research university. The students who choose to study at our research universities expect to be engaged in a field, in a frame of mind, in a spirit of inquiry and in the excitement of the creative endeavor. And it is this aspect of the research university that justifies the presence of undergraduate students, and the concomitant support of the research enterprise which their tuition provides.
I offer my argument because the high quality and station enjoyed by our research universities can be a source of complacency. Our great universities are so successful, so in demand, and have been for so long, that they may take as granted their value and continued existence; in other words, in a manner quite remarkably at odds with their core commitment to rigorous inquiry, they may fall into an unreflective view of their own excellence—one that is largely autobiographical and simply reifies their view of themselves. And, of course, our research universities not only are not immune from the forces of hyperchange I have described, they are at the center of it. Thus, research universities must give new meaning in a new time to our founding theory and reassert our distinct identity: that at our core we marry knowledge creation and learning, simultaneously supporting and connecting the two. This will not be swift or easy. If research universities do not engage, in a reflective way, with both our enduring purpose and the changed contours of our future, our unique position will be jeopardized.
My fear is that as we move through these turbulent times, a disconnect could come to exist between the ideal and the reality of the research university—a disconnect which ultimately could jeopardize the very existence of the research university. One version of this disconnect might be an unhealthy separation in our universities of the research enterprise from the teaching enterprise. In my view, this version of the disconnect is sufficiently widespread to engage our attention—manifesting itself, for example, in the tendency even at the finest research universities to entrust undergraduate teaching to part-time faculty. Today, at private research universities in the United States, at least one out of every three classes is taught by part-time faculty or graduate students. And this often has been accompanied by a reduced commitment to teaching for many senior faculty.
This is quite troubling, for to be attractive to students, the research university must ensure the connection between research and learning which is its justification. We must take care to avoid a set of incentives which create and reinforce a dichotomy in which faculty are not encouraged to view the teaching enterprise (including the undergraduate teaching enterprise) as a natural concomitant of the research enterprise—and vice versa. We must be especially careful lest research come to be seen as the privilege and teaching undergraduates as a painful chore.
Let me give a concrete example of the kind of institutional reflection I believe is necessary. Since becoming NYU’s president, I have come to recognize that there is a national problem observable in the increased use of part-time faculty in research universities. Though NYU’s Faculty of Arts and Science does not use significant numbers of part-time faculty, other schools at NYU do—and often it is for the good reason of getting practitioners into the classroom. But our use of part-time faculty clearly goes beyond what it should. We must consider the educational issues involved and address the conditions of work for those who are part-time faculty. I would like NYU to be a leader in resolving this matter, and I know that our community can rethink the deployment of part-time faculty who supplement the regular faculty. But it will require us to reflect carefully on our goals and the available means to achieve them.
So, for example, one possibility is that the right path is the creation of more full-time teaching positions. But can we afford that? Are there ways we might be able to afford it? The solutions we can afford may not be perfect, but we live in a world of constraints. Perhaps some faculty should be hired specifically for their teaching; hence their teaching responsibilities would be larger, nearer that of teaching institutions, and higher than the general faculty of NYU who are obliged to devote a considerable portion of their time to research. Given their role, they would not be eligible for tenure, but some form of contractual relationship that promises reasonable, but not guaranteed, continuing employment unless performance reviews and curricular needs led to it. Only reflection of the sort I offer here—and the engagement of our community in a conversation about it—will lead us to the place most in line with what we hope our university will be.
The more I think about the impact and implications of the changes around us, the more powerfully I am attracted—at least for NYU—to a version of the research university which I call the common enterprise university. I turn therefore to describing the role of faculty (beginning with the tenured faculty) in the teaching mission of the common enterprise research university in particular.
The conventional wisdom among the public, encouraged by a set of popular books written largely by ideologues outside the university and with relatively little experience of it, is that professors in research universities are essentially under-worked, over-indulged and primarily productive of solipsistic tracts. The data are quite to the contrary. Notwithstanding the fact that work of the mind is extremely taxing and difficult to sustain over long periods of times, and thus not susceptible to clock-punching, there is hard evidence that professors in higher education generally work on average 50 hours a week. And in research universities the number is even higher—60 hours a week. My observation of my own colleagues is that these numbers understate considerably their contribution to the University. And it is some of the most senior and most distinguished members of our community who make the greatest contributions, not only in the time they devote to their pathbreaking and sometimes life-changing research (which often drives them around the clock), but also in the time they spend with students or engaged in other service to the University.
Nonetheless, there are examples in elite universities of faculty who, even as they work very hard, view themselves simply as independent contractors, and there are too many forces at work, both inside and outside the research university, that press against a sense of institutional loyalty, foster the independent contractor model, and excuse toleration of a professor who generally is absent from the wider intellectual life of the university. Thus, for example, our celebrity society has come increasingly to influence the academy, stimulating an economy of rewards and recognition which tends to push faculty members to seek financial compensation and psychic satisfaction outside their university—and, indeed, sometimes to consider it honored by their affiliation. To such faculty, tenure may be no more than a retainer, the university a comfortable base, but merely one of many clients.
Contributing to this attitude is a phenomenon that is otherwise powerfully positive: the acceleration through the internet and the communications revolution of a disciplinary community characterized by a continuing conversation that is unconfined by the boundaries of institution, space or time. The result is that scholars may come to regard their academic specialization and not their academic institution as their primary allegiance. This phenomenon could accelerate even further as now unimagined technological advances offer faculty more absorbing and more meaningful membership in virtual academic communities that literally can span the globe.
But properly understood, the development of external disciplinary communities will not be resisted or inhibited by the common enterprise university. Indeed, both the new university and the new virtual communities share the same core values of conversation unconstrained by conventional boundaries. As the scholar is drawn into broader, even worldwide dialogue, it is vital to create a parallel, palpable, and human community—experienced simultaneously and differently—a community which is equally a part of the scholar’s life. As the disciplines themselves change, becoming venues of cross-disciplinary work, loyalty to the discipline and the call of the common enterprise university actually will reinforce each other. For what is involved in both is the breaking down of divisions and a movement away from a view of self as independent contractor—in short, a summons to engagement. In effect, the common enterprise university both taps into and amplifies a trend that is emerging in the disciplines themselves.
In my view, the challenge is not to discourage faculty loyalty to disciplines or even to stifle their taste for celebrity, but to produce appreciation that one of the best tools for inquiry and insight is examining intellectual formulations and artistic acts, not just with colleagues in the same discipline, wherever they are located, but from the perspective of colleagues both within and outside one’s discipline—and present at one’s own university. Put another way, there is a richness at home, sometimes discovered quite serendipitously and without the affirmative act of reaching out to other communities, that can be invaluable; this domestic advantage powerfully validates the call to common enterprise.
In responding to that call, we must advance and fulfill the paradigm for which so many of the faculty already strive—of active engagement across the span of university life. But realities of time—of daily responsibilities and long-term demands—force them, indeed cause them, to fall short of this ideal. Enabling and encouraging an involved common enterprise faculty will be fundamental to the new version of the university and will be its most visible manifestation—in some ways the most difficult change to achieve, in other ways a natural extension of ambitions and aspirations widely present within the faculty itself.
The faculty who embrace the common enterprise will be willing to impose wider demands upon themselves as part of a social contract with others similarly obligated. This will apply to all faculty, but it is especially important for tenured and tenure-track faculty. For the most part, faculty members are already generous with their time, performing a whole range of duties without compensation—from reviewing papers and books to serving on external reviews—work that other professions frequently compensate. This should be matched, and in the best cases it already is, by an analogous commitment of precious time and energy to one's home university community in the form of increased intellectual discourse with one's colleagues and students.
In the university I envision, faculty will be present—not just on the campus, but of it. They will welcome and engage with colleagues of differing views and expertise. They will be even more available to mentor and advise students, a primary element of the faculty-student relationship, and to continue the classroom conversation outside of class. And in doing so, they will dedicate their time and energy not only to their graduate students, but also to undergraduates. They will participate in alumni or admissions activities. In all this and more, they will internalize the collective interest as part of their own interests—and they will embrace this notion of the common enterprise university as grounded in part in the collective faculty responsibility and ownership of the institution which provides and nurtures the base from which they conduct their activities.
This is not to gainsay that there are moments, hours, periods of time in the research and creative endeavor that must be spent alone; the creative process demands it and indeed it is indispensable to the realization of the common enterprise. For example, humanities research by its very nature can depend on individual investigation and reflection upon a given issue or problem. The humanist often works alone in the library or archive to master a body of material, to understand the broader context in which it exists or was produced, and to follow the sources to other relevant and revealing materials. While group projects are undertaken, the more traditional product in the humanities is the work of a single author and even the collaborative projects tend to be collections in which each participant contributes an individual text. But there are pressing reasons, both principled and practical, that summon even the soloist toward this ideal. And the answer to the summons is not only vital to the viability of the research university in the twenty-first century, but congenial to the interests and conducive to the success of the research scholar.
In this time of hyperchange and increased complexity both within the domain of knowledge and within universities themselves, no single person or small group of people, no matter how well intentioned, can define the full ambit of what the university should be, and no simple aggregation of special interests can conceive and constitute the community’s vision. The university must begin to operate as an indivisible organism where each part simultaneously attends to collectivity and individuality.
There is an essential and urgent necessity for genuine faculty ownership of an increasingly complex entity, reaching across disciplines and in every university's case into a wider world. The definition of who we are, what we do, and how the university will be structured—the ratio studiorum—must be developed in a transparent, dialogic and iterative way. Administrative mandates cannot prescribe purpose; dictates will not engender dedication. The relatively democratic structure of governance at most universities, unlike that of corporations, makes enforced change impractical and undesirable. The faculty must do their part as principal architects for the entire enterprise, thinking as members of a community. Or to put it another way here, and as we shall see in other areas, most must begin to act as members of a symphony orchestra.
In remarks addressed to the American Association of University Professors in 2003, remarks essentially decrying the commercialization of the academy, David Bollier offered a vivid and compelling description of the commons—one quite apt for the different context in which I am using the term. As he puts it:
Unlike markets, which rely upon price as the sole criterion of value and which, to that end, try to reduce everything to numbers, a commons is organized around a richer blend of human needs. In a commons, identity, community needs, duty, fame and honor—among other things—matter. Transactions are based on ongoing moral, social and personal relationships and shared commitments.
He then continues:
The commons describes the very essence of academia. Openness, sharing and collaboration are fundamental to its success. While some might think it a bit odd to talk about academia as a commons, I think it helps us recognize academia for what it is: a powerful alternative to the market for accomplishing some serious and significant work. It is a highly productive "gift economy" in which value is created by the members of a community giving and taking and sharing without contractual quid pro quos or money.
The willingness of faculty to adopt this attitude is so essential to the effectuation of the ideals of the university we seek, that, in the common enterprise university, one consideration for appointment and promotion, in addition to scholarly achievement, will be potential or actual contribution to a continuing and wide-ranging academic dialogue among faculty and students. And for its part, the university must sponsor more and more initiatives fostering that discourse.
So the notion of a common enterprise university is grounded in part in the rightness and necessity of collective faculty ownership in order to conceptualize and realize the fundamental purpose of the modern research university. But, there is another ground for it, a utilitarian one, in these troubled financial times: the principle of common enterprise is more powerful when we know that even the most well-endowed research universities will have to pursue a new regime of economic discipline. Universities will have to do more with less than they recently expected—or assumed they would have to accept. And the difficult trade-offs that will be required must be wisely made, widely shared, and broadly embraced. Here too, the faculty must play a central role.
The harsh reality of the times cannot be denied. The gulf between public esteem for higher education and public willingness to pay for it is wide and growing wider as deficits deepen nationally and in virtually every state. But these present challenges are only prologue to a more general and long-term trend. Although higher education experienced a relative prosperity during the economic boom of the 1990s, it will now feel the impact not only of falling government revenues, but of reordered government priorities. Ill-advised as this may be as a matter of enlightened public policy, higher education will lose more ground in the competition for public resources, falling farther behind defense, homeland security, healthcare, and K through 12 education.
This waning government commitment comes at a time when the costs of providing a superior education are spiraling—the costs of hiring the best faculty, stocking libraries with an expanding range of more expensive books and journals, obtaining and sustaining the latest facilities in technology and the sciences. At the same time, the explosion of new academic fields and curricular areas, from human genetics to cognitive sciences, yields great societal and academic benefits, but at a high cost to the institution. And, in traditional fields as well as new ones, as Max Planck observed, each new advance in knowledge costs more than the one before. It is not only true that first come the easier questions, then the harder ones; it is concomitantly true that first come the less expensive questions and then the more expensive ones. For example, the cost of instrumentation is not only rising, but each new “gadget” has a shorter half-life. Light microscopy—fluorescence—confocal—two photon—multi-photon microscopy: a light microscope costs $10,000 and lasts a lifetime; a confocal microscope can cost well into the six figures and is outdated within ten years. But even as these costs press in on universities that desire excellence, the possibility of generating additional revenues internally through increased tuition, also has become more problematic. The rising cost of higher education is already beyond the reach of some promising students and, not withstanding an enormous infusion of financial aid from within the university, gaps remain.
Taken together, these factors—the reality of decreasing government support, the need for increasing investments in both traditional areas and new knowledge and teaching, and the limits on tuition—manifest the depth of the dilemma faced by universities committed to high standards and even higher aspirations. We will generate the resources to fulfill our mission only if we move to common enterprise, with its emphasis on faculty engagement in the setting of priorities as well as faculty ownership of the decisions made and in all parts of the university, led by the faculty, a willingness occasionally to sacrifice for the collective good.
In a way, and at several levels, the universities and faculties of today confront an academic version of the tragedy of the commons, Garrett Hardin's celebrated parable challenging the widely held assumption that each individual acting out of self-interest inevitably will secure that interest and simultaneously benefit the whole.
He told the story of a medieval hamlet, with a large common pasture for the village animals. Every villager, motivated, as free market theory held, by self-interest, continued to add more animals grazing on the common land. Eventually, and this is what the traditional theory did not predict, the ever larger herd destroyed the pasture and with it the village’s prime source of food.
The tragedy of the commons lay in the failure of individuals to predict, perceive, and understand their true stake in the wider community—their failure accurately to gauge the effects their actions would have on the whole and then ultimately on themselves. Confronted with a decision to change a system nearing the breaking point after it had sustained the village for centuries, the villagers refused to see the consequences, held to what they assumed were their personal interests, and unwittingly defeated those interests while destroying the collective good.
That is now the threat—intellectual and financial—to higher education. And the tenured faculty, in furtherance of their fiduciary obligation, must lead the way to the common enterprise solution. As an intellectual matter, disciplines cannot persist in a hegemonic insistence that issues be seen through their lens alone; each department or school’s individual quest for more space on the academic horizon, regardless of the effect on the commons, can diminish the ability of other disciplines to achieve genuine advancement—and the university's collective capacity to strive for, let alone achieve, excellence. As a practical matter, our universities can meet the demand for greater progress with scarcer resources only through common enterprise.
Those as gifted as the tenured faculty in elite research universities will demonstrate more self-knowledge than the herdsmen of Hardin's medieval village, and in doing so will recognize that the future depends on asking what is right for the whole institution and not just for themselves as we share and distribute the university’s “commons,” its financial resources.
In sum, the case for the common enterprise faculty is based on a combination of principle and pragmatism. The argument in principle flows from the reality that only common enterprise can define appropriately the ideal of the research university for our time, and only a cooperative and interactive faculty can avoid an intellectual version of the tragedy of the commons. The pragmatic argument flows from the financial exigencies of our time and the necessity of collective activity to define an appropriate response to them, a version of the problem of the commons in its classic economic form.
The stage is now set to delineate in a preliminary way the general responsibilities of the enterprise faculty. Here it is worth noting that, while the parable of the commons is a useful tool for understanding the necessity to move toward the enterprise university model, our discussion of it runs the risk of understating the moral claim made upon faculty by the common enterprise university. For at its base, Hardin’s answer depends ultimately on enlightened self-interest; in other words, for him, the ground that forces collective action remains self-interest. But the common enterprise university makes a more aggressive and expansive claim—one that forces faculty to regard themselves often as cooperators in the complete enterprise. At its root, such a university is not a Leviathan in Hobbes’ sense—an institution necessary to cabin harmful and occasionally self-defeating action. Rather, it is the center of a shared and noble endeavor, the joint production of knowledge and the dissemination of it.
Within this framework, it is heedless self-interest rather than cooperative behavior that calls for explanation. The independent contractor in this model is not just a defector, but a person who does not understand the nature of the emerging university. The difference between the transformative common enterprise university that constitutes the category change we seek and the modern university into which we have been born is, at the end of the day, the difference writ large between two individuals who are going for a walk together and two individuals who each happen to be walking the same path.
We no longer can afford what Frank Rhodes, the former President of Cornell, calls a “one sided obligation,” in which “the university is expected to provide tenure, compensation, professional support and the protection of academic freedom for the professoriate, while the reciprocal obligations of the faculty member are nowhere specified.” Rhodes presents an asymmetrical relationship. But in my view, universities, their presidents, and their administrations have been complicit in the problem; in a way, there has been a mutual default of duty. Specifically, research universities too often have not made it possible for faculty to fulfill the entirety of their role. Even in the best resourced of universities, for example, we see large classes, inadequate classrooms, outdated instructional equipment—all signs of a failure to create conditions conducive to faculty success in their undergraduate teaching. Whoever is at fault, whatever the cause, and whoever contributes to it, we can no longer tolerate a dereliction of obligation on either side.
For his part, Rhodes proposes a “Socratic Oath for Faculty in Research Universities.” What I believe we need is an expression of mutual commitment on the part of both the university and the faculty. As I have said, there are many in the faculty for whom the sense of obligation is never in question; they live it every day, and often do not even experience it as an obligation. So rather than suggesting an oath per se, I would offer in the form of an oath a description of the attitude and spirit which imbues and will imbue the kind of faculty I associate with the common enterprise university:
“I understand and expect that the university I join will provide for me the sacred space—of place and mind—in which I will be free with no restraint of thought or orthodoxy to pursue a life of inquiry and exploration and to share the fruits of that life with colleagues, students and all who are interested. In return, and as part of that life, I commit my talents and my time to my university community as a sanctuary for knowledge creation and a center for the learning of a new generation. I commit to do my part to advance outstanding scholarship, the expression of the human spirit, and excellence in education. I commit myself to do my part to help others do theirs—to promote the engagement of colleagues and students—graduates and undergraduates alike—in the full life of the university. I commit myself to full citizenship in this great and common enterprise.”
This pledge sees those of us privileged to live the professorial life as called to a vocation as in Frederich Buechner’s sense of the word—“the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.” The university of the future depends on this commitment—not only from its faculty, but from its administration as well. Only in this way, only through mutual commitment, can the ideal of the common enterprise university be realized fully—for those who create, who teach, who lead and who learn.
The faculty of such a university will have deep in their souls an inclination to build community—a spirit that will display itself in different ways at different moments. This, for example, may involve a reversal of conventional assumptions about seniority. The key is to understand that, with regard to institutional direction, senior faculty, even as they exercise authority, must view themselves as standing not just at a shaping point but at a listening point. In short, the generation in power must accept that one of their most crucial roles is to hear and heed the voices of the next generation of leaders; they must be willing to do something different than if they simply regarded themselves as in charge and in command. They must accord a disproportionate (though certainly not exclusive) influence to their younger colleagues—those tenured in the last ten or fifteen years. The next generation of leaders must be rotated through the most influential committees, so they shape the direction of the university without diverting them into administration at the peak of their scholarly activity. In the ideal, without losing their role as originators, senior faculty should become to a greater degree implementers, giving deference to the hopes of their junior colleagues. Influence moves in both directions: the senior faculty mentor the newer faculty, but the newer faculty have a substantial role in shaping institutional direction.
I recognize that this strategy for institutional continuity and organic, consensual evolution may not win ready acceptance from some who have climbed to the pinnacle. Any of us can become locked into conventional modes of thought; unsurprisingly, we may resist the notion that at times there is a new language to learn, new ways of formulating old questions, new questions that need to be asked and answered—and that all these new phenomena usually are more clearly seen by scholars who are younger in years or experience. So the common enterprise university must resist a hierarchy and tradition that suppress younger faculty and make them wait their turn. Instead, such universities—in an iterative and progressive process—must foster an empowering inter-generational relationship across its faculty.
Beyond this, when resources are scarce, the ethos of common enterprise may show itself by a willingness to restrain personal demands in order to liberate resources to bring new possibilities to the university. And even when resources are available, this attitude could display itself, with extraordinary psychological and symbolic significance, by combining a demand for research funding with a willingness to commit to the university for a period of time, thus affirming the institutional value of the investment. I have been impressed by the readiness of colleagues to forgo even reasonable demands for personal rewards in order to free resources to attract other colleagues and build excellence. And recently, I proudly informed my trustees, even as I requested a programmatic appropriation, that the professor in charge of the program had agreed to repay the funds if he left the University prematurely; indeed, in accepting this obligation, he observed that it would be a recruiting tool, clearly proving his commitment in a way that would enable him to bring others to us.
It should be acknowledged that faculty often are prevented from making a full contribution to the common enterprise by various problematic conditions, some of which are created or at least not sufficiently mitigated, by their own universities. Among these problems are the obvious ones: large classes, inadequate classrooms, and outdated instructional equipment. Less obvious, perhaps but also significant is the fact that the volume of publication required for mere respectability as a researcher appears to grow every year. The felt need to produce these publications leads many to think less, to converse less—and to teach less—than earlier generations of scholars. This pressure to publish, driven in part by an inflationary spiral within each of the academic disciplines, often comes at the price of forfeiting the better ideas that further reflection yields. But it is also due to demands exerted by administrators who measure the success of academic units in terms of reputation-based rankings. More publication yields higher visibility, and higher visibility yields higher rankings. Measuring ourselves against our ideals rather than one another would do more than anything else to bring about the common enterprise university. And the way to begin measuring ourselves against our ideals is to de-emphasize reputational rankings and reexamine our conception of what they supposedly measure—namely, academic excellence. When "excellence" is operationally defined in terms of rankings, it comes to stand for visibility and prominence rather than for any genuine academic or intellectual virtues. We too often forget the word "excellence" can also be a translation of the Greek term for virtue, arete.
Thus, my colleague David Velleman, from whom this thought is derived, proposes that we reconceive academic excellence as academic virtue—which he would take to include outstanding creativity in research as well as the other qualities found in the citizen of a common enterprise university. As Aristotle argued, he says, the individual virtues are in fact inseparable and can be truly attained only through the attainment of complete virtue. Thus, he suggests that the unity of research excellence and teaching excellence is grounded, not in the synergy between the activities of research and teaching, but in the character of the excellent or virtuous academic, whose several virtues are only aspects of an indivisible intellectual virtue.
So the responsibilities of the common enterprise faculty express the ideal of academic virtue, which I believe our times demand be made real, of cooperative activity with a distribution of roles and an interaction among them, reinforced by the mutual respect and responsiveness of all participants—and especially by their contribution not only in their specific role, but in helping others to succeed as well.
I believe that a university which demands so much of tenured faculty will not compromise its ability to secure the talent it seeks. Indeed, based on my experience, although perhaps counterintuitive, is that creating such a social contract of obligation will make the common enterprise university irresistibly attractive to some of the finest scholars—because a good number of those who are drawn to the life of the mind derive joy not so much from material reward, although those rewards must be sufficient, but from a stronger sense of vocation. And happily this is increasingly the case the greater the faculty member’s personal claim on excellence.
It is self-evident that many of the best in higher education, were they focused on financial gain, could earn multiples of their academic salaries elsewhere. And many of the best, although concededly not all, are attracted powerfully and primarily to the satisfactions of unfettered inquiry, the serious and at times even playful exchange of ideas. They are also likely to value the return that flows to them from building a stronger university, one committed to excellence and centered in a vibrant intellectual community.
There will be a sufficient number of the most talented who, even as they value increased professionalism and specialization, will also prize the chance to look to the discoveries, insight and progress that can be achieved by interacting with colleagues in their department and by transcending disciplinary and departmental divisions. Indeed, in today’s university, even those who conduct their research and exercise their creativity in isolation wish and need to display their work to others for reaction and criticism, for even the soloist understands at some level that every act of knowledge creation finally becomes dialogic. Each scientific formula or historical claim will be tested and refined; each poem, each work of art or literature, can inspire fresh creativity. In the common enterprise university, the dialogic process, intrinsic in any view of higher education, will be celebrated and elevated. And this in itself will be a magnet attracting the abundance of talent that will make the concept of the common enterprise university viable.
Moreover, large numbers of extraordinarily talented faculty will be drawn to the notion of common enterprise because they will see a link between their own interests and the collective. The best faculty are ambitious with respect to what they want to accomplish personally in their teaching as well as in their research, but the wisest will realize that neither ambition can be achieved easily in a university composed only of independent contractors. For example, there are severe limits in what one can achieve in teaching class A if other faculty are not teaching powerful classes in B, C, and D. And, with respect to research, an analogous point can be made: with the possible exception of a few intellectual geniuses every generation (and even they may not be exceptions), scholarship is inherently communal, both because it builds on what others have accomplished and because even the deepest insights can be improved by testing them with colleagues across a range of disciplines.
This proposition actually has been tested and validated. The enterprise ethos is alive and robust in many of the great schools and departments in the country; we see it here at NYU in places ranging from the Tisch School of the Arts to the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, from our Division of Nursing to our Fine Arts Department. And, for example, in recent years, NYU Law School has witnessed a remarkable migration to it of leading established faculty, still in their prime, from other outstanding law schools. Initially many assumed that this was the result of offering excessive financial rewards, but this was never the case. To the contrary, it was sometimes the case that new faculty had fewer personal emoluments at NYU than at the institution from which they came. The magnet for many was to build something special in a place that was open, innovative and risk-taking—to create an extraordinary community of ideas and shared aspiration. Great universities are legendary as magnets because of their sheer quality as genuine learning communities built on a foundation of concern and caring for each other and for everyone’s scholarship and teaching. The issue is not levels of compensation, but the character of intellectual life and sense of community.
The common enterprise university must be confident of this proposition. It need not—indeed, it must not—participate in an academic equivalent of baseball's free agency market. This does not mean that it should foreswear totally attention to disciplinary markets or that it should adopt utterly egalitarian compensation—in effect, imposing a tax on even the best of common enterprise players in an effort to create a world of equal dignity, based simply on academic rank and length of service. My response is no.
Compensation does matter, even to a faculty member dedicated to the principles of the common enterprise. Faculty members are human beings with families and real world responsibilities and aspirations. Although the very best of them in plain fact have chosen a less lucrative vocation, often foregoing the possibility of enormous financial rewards, asking them to forego all recognition of their special value—treating all professors the same—would be wrong and it would not work.
So the common enterprise university can choose to participate in a market for faculty talent, but will not engage in bidding wars or set unwarranted new salary benchmarks. And, where it does participate at the top of the market—meaning the true market, not one created by aberrant free agent salaries set by schools that need to rely on them to attract faculty—it will insist that the professors who join the community be animated by those non-financial values deemed core to the enterprise, and not simply by monetary gain or individual status.
Today, the normal, non-aberrational market generates differentiations within ranks, within departments, and within schools. These markets often are set by factors beyond the control of the universities, such as the marketability to external actors of expertise in law, business, economics or science. I would submit that every member of the common enterprise faculty has a stake in accepting this normal market because everybody at the university benefits from having the best of colleagues. Indeed and ideally, all faculty members should seek to create a faculty to which they could not be appointed—one in which the next generation, even as it benefited from the experience and insights of senior colleagues, surpassed their achievements. In this world, faculty would view the addition of stronger colleagues not as something that moves them down a ladder of status, but as something that lifts them by elevating the team. Once we accept this, markets have two additional advantages. First, as imperfect as they sometimes are, they aggregate judgments of the relative importance of someone’s contribution. Second, actually allowing the external market to set compensation—to have it value faculty—is less disruptive than a process of ongoing ad hoc internal evaluation. So the challenge for the common enterprise university is to accommodate two apparently conflicting realities—the market as a relative gauge of academic standing and the absolute imperative of community. What can erode community is a system that would require scholars to put themselves on the market to prove their worth or force them to pay a hidden tax for their loyalty by not doing so.
Of course, the call of the common enterprise university, the call to walk together, with differentiations but without disproportionate rewards, will not be appealing to everyone. Some exceptional professors will prefer fewer obligations and greater rewards: for them, the paradigm I suggest may well be utterly unattractive. So a university based on common enterprise must be willing to forego the opportunity to bring them to its faculty.
Finally, it is worth acknowledging that, just as the common enterprise university is interested in trying to develop common enterprise faculty members, so too it must foster common enterprise departments and schools. Indeed, ideally every organizational division at the common enterprise university ought to be judged by its values.
Thus far, we have offered some exemplars of the responsibilities that flow from the Socratic Oath that will define the common enterprise faculty. Although we have viewed these responsibilities through the lens of the tenured faculty, all faculty will share them to a very real degree. So now I turn to one responsibility—indispensable to the ideal and success of the common enterprise research university, where all faculty will be especially obligated—the sacred privilege of teaching.
Every faculty member—from the most senior world-renowned scholar to the most junior adjunct—must embrace the importance of integrating knowledge creation with knowledge transmission and understand their place in the process. Without this, the justification for undergraduate education, and even for the new Master’s Colleges at research institutions, disappears—and with it the resources that sustain research, maintain programs of advanced study, and undergird intellectual life more generally across the community.
The principal responsibility for this integration lies with the tenured faculty, who have been chosen for their dual capacities in knowledge creation and transmission, in effect making them the primary incarnation of the core purpose of the research university. While I am unwilling at this stage to subscribe to a single formula for deployment or any other like it, I am certain that the research faculty at our great universities must accept that undergraduate teaching is a vital part of their vocation. The curricula and teaching of major research universities ought to look very different from the curricula and teaching at even the best liberal arts colleges and universities. At the same time I am equally certain that research universities must reexamine their curricula to distinguish those courses where the use of research faculty is appropriate and advantageous from other courses where it would be unnecessary or even counterproductive. And I am convinced that education at the research university would benefit from a review, based on institutional goals, of the frequency with which many courses are offered.
My experience at NYU leads me to be optimistic about the willingness of even august professors to commit themselves to undergraduate education. Some of our leading researchers, senior and junior alike, find it extremely rewarding to teach large introductory courses, ranging from economics to German history. And every one of our University Professors has agreed—and in the future will be expected—to teach a Freshman Seminar. For twelve years, I myself have done so—first, as Dean of the Law School and now as President of the University. It may seem unusual to have beginning students taught by advanced scholars, but in recent years, our best research universities have increasingly pursued this path. It is both crucial and achievable to expose students to the most advanced habits of thought and academic materials from the start of their university careers. I have found in my own Freshman Seminar that examining and reflecting on highly demanding constitutional law materials on state and religion present a challenge that freshmen can meet in a way that stretches their minds, broadens their horizons, and lets them push themselves to a new level. To me, this is the kind of education that is possible only in a research university, where the most senior of its tenured faculty are genuinely committed to the newest of its students. It happens that students experience such encounters quite positively—in part, of course, because they are being exposed to those defining their fields, but also because people who choose to teach such seminars are naturally attracted to the enterprise of teaching and its rewards, and, frankly, are more likely to be naturally gifted teachers.
Serendipity, however, and natural gifts alone, cannot be relied upon to deliver all that we want for every student. There is a rich store of knowledge produced by talented researchers on pedagogy—and every faculty member, even the most talented, could benefit from it. Thus a feature of the common enterprise university will be the expectation that all faculty members should engage with this knowledge and that venues will be created where they can share ideas about teaching successes and failures, work together to improve the process of knowledge transmission as a whole, and raise the effectiveness of every professor in it.
Faculty who choose the common enterprise university embrace a magnificent notion of themselves as players in an intellectual symphony, creating a concert of the most advanced ideas with their colleagues and their students. The privileges of playing in such an orchestra are extraordinary—and for those who understand the rewards, the obligations are not only acceptable, but welcome. Of course, every faculty member—including, perhaps most of all, the most senior renowned scholar—must accept and live the importance of connecting the research and teaching missions of our great universities. The principal responsibility for this integration lies with the tenured faculty, who have been chosen for their dual capacities in research and teaching, in effect making them the primary incarnation of the core purpose of the research university. But, in this orchestra, various roles (and various titles) each associated with functions, will be assigned. This is not only right but indispensable—because, notwithstanding that every course, introductory or advanced, should be an integral component of the educational mission of the university, the tenured faculty do not do all the teaching in the research university of today, and I would not argue that they should do it in the research university of tomorrow.
The increased use at all universities of part-time faculty is a symptom of what I mean to highlight here. Just thirty years ago the National Center for Education Statistics reported that just over twenty percent of university professors in America were part-time; by 1999, that proportion had nearly doubled. According to the American Council on Education's Center for Policy Analysis, the number of part-time faculty grew nearly eighty percent in the last two decades of the twentieth century—to more than 400,000. Two thirds of the faculty appointed in the last five years of that century were part-time.
But the increased use of part-time faculty merely illustrates the emergence of a set of new—and sometimes creative—relationships between the university and some of its faculty. Over half of all new full-time faculty appointments in the past decade have been to positions that are not tenure eligible; or, to put it differently (and to incorporate the increased use of the part-time faculty) in the year 2001, only one in four new faculty appointments were to tenure track positions. The future will see more of this, and the common enterprise university will embrace the development of these new relationships and will integrate them consciously into the academic team.
This conscious integration is important. Today, even as new relationships have emerged, too little if any thought has been given to the definition, role, and rewards of accorded faculty who carry significant responsibilities in the teaching enterprise of the research university. Even less attention has been paid to connecting the deployment of those faculty to the ideal of the university. What results is a kind of unexamined, often accidental and incidental evolution of faculty forms and functions, which has led to the existence of a host of actors inside the research university whose presence may be critical, but who are frequently underappreciated and undervalued.
Let me be clear that I do not see the emergence of these new faculty relationships as diminishing the core commitment of tenured faculty in the common enterprise university to the full implementation of its reach and teaching mission—including, of course, undergraduate teaching. Thus, while I am unwilling to offer a uniform formula to describe the role of tenured faculty, I am certain that great universities will insist that faculty accept that undergraduate teaching is a vital part of their vocation. This is not to say that every tenured professor must teach undergraduates every semester. Our aim is a moving of the dial, a reweighing of the balance, so every student will be exposed to knowledge creators in a meaningful way—in short will have contact not only with those who write the textbooks used in the classroom, but also with those who are forging the ideas that will inform the next generation of those books. For the moment, I offer this as a possible benchmark: that, even in the first year, students should be able to enroll in more than one class with an actively engaged leader in the field—and by the senior year, a majority of a student’s courses ought to be taught by such professors.
I will not pause here to review the taxonomy of titles that have blossomed in the research university—or to enumerate the variety of privileges, rights, and worth attendant to each. Suffice it to say that at most research universities, there are scores of such titles, and they have sprung up ad hoc. This in turn has generated increasingly stark divisions and valuations—in research and teaching and among segments of the faculty, with too many feeling they are second or third-class citizens.
One explanation frequently offered for the proliferation of faculty forms is financial. While financial pressures are real on every campus, such an explanation should not suffice in the conversation about the ideal, and it does not have to suffice in the small handful of leading universities such as NYU where the choice need not be made on that basis. The fact is, or at least I will contend the fact is, that new forms of faculty ought to exist quite apart from financial considerations, because they bring value to the academic enterprise and indeed for some roles, bring a unique value and are superior to deploying tenured faculty. So it is time to reflect on the necessity and role of the complex set of players that exist in the university that is and that I see in the university to come—a blend to be modified depending on circumstance and each institution's ratio studiorum. Achieving this blend requires a serious self-reflective process to distinguish the courses at a research university where it is appropriate to have knowledge creators teach from those courses where it is not appropriate, and may even be positively undesirable to have them in that classroom.
Today I propose to discuss five broad categories of faculty, by and large outside the tenure system. I will give each of these categories a name; I emphasize, however, that any connection between the name that I offer and the use of a similar term in the taxonomy of titles now existing in any university is purely coincidental—and I refuse to be limited in my exposition by any assumptions arising from the status quo.
First I will discuss what I call the University Teacher—a category which will evoke existing forms of faculty on many campuses. Then I will turn to the arts professor—a category that enriches research universities like NYU, which incorporate leading schools of the arts and performance studies. Next is the part-time, or adjunct professor. Then, the global professor. And, then finally, the cyber professor, a new kind of faculty member who combines knowledge of a field with special technical expertise. These five categories do not exhaust all of the categories outside of the tenured faculty—for example, emeriti faculty, visiting faculty, or faculty fellows (recent doctoral graduates who, though teaching full time, have not yet moved to the tenure track). The five categories I do treat are sufficient, however, to capture the principles of faculty deployment I mean to advance here.
I recognize that some of these categories are not only unfamiliar, but in one case entirely new and I describe this entire set of categories again in the spirit of an invitation to debate and to experiment on whatever scale is appropriate in a particular unit, department or school. There is no formulation or category which would apply in all of the varied local contexts captured within the research university—certainly not one as diverse as NYU. What I offer is a set of templates designed to provide a discussion of the appropriate principles of operation.
I define the ideal of the university teacher as someone chosen through a rigorous academic review process to join the faculty because he or she has been adjudged to be capable of conveying the most advanced stage of a discipline and of appreciating the creative side of the venture, while possessing a particular ability in knowledge transmission. The university teacher causes students to think, to reason, to question and ask the right questions, to push beyond conventional assumptions, and to reach higher than they might have reached on their own; the university teacher will instill in students a desire to understand the subject and to see the beauty of linking that subject to others. He or she will be capable of appreciating and of participating in the research enterprise. But he or she will have chosen to tilt the personal mix of research and teaching more dramatically in the direction of teaching than would be appropriate for one seeking tenure. The university teacher will dedicate a full professional life to the university as an active participant in the institution and a premier participant in the education of students. The university teacher will not be given the lifetime position we associate with tenure, but the possibility of remaining with the institution for a whole professional career will be very real.
As my colleague John Mayher has noted in our conversations, teaching is a highly complex art/science which must be deliberately learned beyond simply practicing it. Teachers must, of course, know their fields, but such knowledge is not sufficient to insure pedagogical proficiency. And, indeed, how they know (and how they learned) their fields can also influence how effective they are as teachers of it. Indeed, one of the paradoxes of having field-expert teachers is that by and large they are selected from the small fraction of the learner population who “got it” immediately whether the “it” is physics, literary criticism, economics, statistics or history. As such, they may find it hard to communicate with and to understand the experience and perspective of neophytes for whom the subject is a struggle. Undergraduate students, especially when they are general education/liberal arts learners, need an empathetic understanding that they may not “get it” immediately, and that they are not inevitably interested in subjects that they may only be taking to meet a requirement. Even potential majors need learner-friendly introductory courses, however, since bad introductory teaching can turn off even those who might be intrigued to pursue more depth in a field.
I suggest not that research universities compromise the research mission that defines their core, but merely that their interest in teaching—and particularly in undergraduate teaching—become more pronounced. I also am suggesting that a cadre of master teachers dedicated to advancing this agenda (and supported by institutional moves designed to enlist the tenured faculty as well) makes the effort more likely to proceed.
The challenge to develop a curriculum that engages the very best of our students is greatest in the liberal arts core since the cutting-edge research in those disciplines is less explicitly or directly connected to future practice than it is in the professional schools.
A successful undergraduate curriculum and successful undergraduate teaching in a research university must begin and not end with contact between students and teachers at the cutting edge. In at least one—and better more—first and second year experiences, the research faculty and the learners must come together to experience what and where the excitement is. Lewis Thomas wrote some years ago that we teach science all wrong because we teach it as answers not questions, as problems solved, not problem finding. The same seems to me to be true of every discipline, and while some background of knowledge and experience is surely needed to join the conversation of a field, it doesn’t require full traditional survey and much of it can be learned in the context of the new explorations. Faculty in each field must rethink what it means to be invited into the current, cutting-edge conversations of their discipline.
The advantage of reconceptualizing the learning encounters structured by the curriculum in these ways would be to bring researchers into contact with learners where they are at their best: intrigued by the problems they are trying to solve, not where they are often at their worst: delivering the same lectures year in and year out on material that no longer really interests or challenges them however much it might have in the past. Not every course need be so structured, but if enough were, it might transform the learning and teaching most students experience here. Nor must such classes necessarily be small. And such restructuring and reconceptualizing could put undergraduate teaching close to the center of the enterprise. It would be less likely to be perceived as a duty, or a burden, or a distraction from the central research mission of the faculty member but an integral part of it.
It will be my claim that university teachers will be and ought to be key players in the symphony—in other words, as I have said before, that even in a world unrestrained by considerations of time and resources, the tenured faculty is not best suited to cover every course. In part this view is derived from an application of the principle of comparative advantage to the enterprise of undergraduate education in our research universities. Simply put, though the importance of exposing undergraduates to those who are engaged in advanced research cannot be overstated, it would be a misallocation of aggregate faculty time to run that principle to an extreme where every course were taught by such persons; this point led me to the benchmark I stated earlier. Moreover, as undergraduate education at our universities moves—quite felicitously in my view—in the direction of increasing the time devoted to student contact outside of class, whether to continue the classroom conversation or to provide career and personal counseling, the kind of time and devotion I associate with the master teacher becomes more important. And, finally incorporating into the enterprise a set of actors singularly devoted to the development of pedagogies to integrate research and teaching is bound to be beneficial.
Let me explain: Imagine a model of the knowledge creator, the tenure track faculty member, who did have unlimited time, energy, and will to commit on every front. If this model were realizable, if there were no boundaries, that faculty member would be constantly engaged in creation, transmission, and translation of knowledge into the world of implementation, ultimately becoming one of the leading practitioners of the theory. This has been the assumed ideal for research universities, repeatedly articulated, largely unsubstantiated, and wholly unexamined. In setting out the conception of the common enterprise university, I explicitly reject this conventional wisdom—and I am willing to argue that even in a hypothetical and unrestrained world, it would not advance but undermine the academic enterprise to dispatch tenured faculty across the entire spectrum of knowledge transmission.
To the extent the university does dispatch the knowledge creator into knowledge transmission, a division of self is required, and a certain amount of that actually enriches knowledge creation. But I submit that there is not only room, but a demand for certain people who are single-mindedly devoted to teaching first and foremost as their primary identity at the university. This is true as a simple matter of both economic justice and academic duty. The dependence of the research university on the presence of undergraduates to sustain its Medici role as a sponsor of research demands a fulfillment of the undergraduate's right to and need for a certain number of teachers who are dedicated exclusively to their education and mentoring.
There is another independent argument for relying on university teachers as opposed to their tenured colleagues for certain kinds of courses in certain parts of the curriculum. While there is a duality to the tenured faculty member which demands a capacity for both knowledge creation and transmission, even and especially at this pinnacle of academic life, we must recognize that in teaching there can be different required strengths, skills, and course demands. The assessment of teaching cannot be as bipolar as it would appear to be when listening to vernacular conversations and the conventional question: “Is he or she a good teacher?” My experience is that in the broadest terms it is unnecessary to make the compromise between excellence as a knowledge creator and excellence as a knowledge transmitter as one builds a research faculty. But that is in the broadest terms. It is sometimes necessary to ask: “Is this scholar the right teacher for a particular context?” Some who are brilliant in seminars are ineffective in large classes. Some who are brilliant with students whose basic and intermediate skills have been carefully honed would be disasters in introductory courses.
Although we demand competence in teaching from all members of the tenured faculty, they are differentially competent in ways that should not be characteristic of university teachers. The reality is that there are extraordinary knowledge creators who need careful deployment in the knowledge transmission side of the enterprise—and even if this were not the case, it would be unwise to assign knowledge creators to courses where students are not called upon or are not yet ready to integrate their learning with exposure to the research or creative process.
Put another way, not every course is, or should be, designed to provide that integration. For some courses, a commitment to using faculty talent wisely could lead us to conclude that a knowledge creator should not be in that classroom; thus, there have to be alternative players in the symphony, university teachers who are truly first-class in the teaching enterprise. Building the intellectual foundation that will prepare students for participation in the creative enterprise requires a special talent—to take highly nuanced ideas and present them without oversimplifying or misrepresenting complex realities and to do so in a way that will stimulate in students the fire and passion to pursue the path.
The university teacher often is someone who can operate at a level of creativity and to a very real extent does, especially in the area of teaching, but has chosen primarily the wonderful calling of immersion in knowledge transmission. What may not be obvious in this vision is why people would choose to be a university teacher rather than a tenured professor. Such questioning misses the truth that there is an inherent satisfaction in leading students in the discovery of knowledge, in awakening their innate curiosity, in showing them how to learn and even in some cases shaping their lives. That mission can be the heart of a rewarding vocation—one that is immediate in its impact and gratifying in ways that research is not. And the experience of successful university teachers frequently is overwhelmingly positive in character compared to that of even the most successful scholars and researchers, who, by the nature of their role, must subject themselves to criticism, skepticism, and even a certain negativism as their work is scrutinized in the most intense way.
But we must also recognize that for the common enterprise university to succeed, and for it to be rational for people of great talent to choose to be university teachers, stereotypes of status must be broken. All faculty must come to think differently about their colleagues. Everybody will have a role and respect, but that does not mean that everybody will have the same rights and responsibilities, just as appreciating a percussionist and a violinist in a symphony orchestra does not mean that they are the same. The university I envision will not be one that devalues roles, but one that genuinely values different kinds of faculty.
This forces the question: if valorization is what we seek, should university teachers be eligible for tenure?
Such a view is not without a surface appeal. First, an appeal to the attractive principle of egalitarianism would seem to support extending tenure to the university teacher. The university teacher is vital to the success of the university and deserves to be appreciated; no one can deny that. And, tenure might be viewed as an expression and sign of this appreciation. Upon reflection, however, the egalitarian argument merits little discussion, for it ultimately either claims too much (the call for “the recognition and respect” extends to many, other than university teachers for whom tenure clearly would be inappropriate) or, if it is accompanied with some principle of limitation which avoids the problem of overinclusion, it depends upon the validity of that principle of limitation (such as the need for tenure as a protector of those whose academic freedom is vital to the university’s success). This suggests a second possible rationale for extending tenure to university teachers: that the university teacher should enjoy in the classroom the protection of inquiry we associate with academic freedom—and that protection frequently has been associated with (and certainly is buttressed by) the institution of tenure. Upon examination, this proposition, like the one raised on the simple principle of egalitarianism, also fails, for it misses—and in some sense undermines—the unique role tenure plays (as distinct from the protection of academic freedom) within the research university, and ignores the imperative that its scope must be guarded jealously.
There is no denying that all within the university must be free from censorship and censure. The university is the sacred space where ideas are born and transmitted, where the unthinkable can be thought freely and expressed openly, and where the unimagined can become the object of dreams and aspirations. And clearly successful instruction requires an open classroom where unpopular ideas can be explored without the threat of censure. Academic freedom is cherished and guarded by the university as necessary to preserve this sacred space. However, this protection is necessary for all in the university—students, teaching assistants, adjuncts and university teachers as well as tenured professors. In short, academic freedom is important for many for whom tenure clearly is inappropriate; and the university has a compelling interest—indeed a duty—to guard the academic freedom of all, not just a few. Thus, while it is true that tenure initially was viewed as a protection of academic freedom, the university of that time was far less complex than the modern research university, and it contained far few actors. Today the notion of academic freedom is firmly established and necessarily wider in scope; and this vital universality of scope decouples academic freedom from the institution of tenure, for it is obvious that not all of those who are entitled to academic freedom are eligible for tenure, let alone entitled to it.
Indeed it is worth noting that tenure in some ways is insufficient to provide the protection of viewpoint that must prevail in every classroom and for every faculty member, tenured or not—for without a robust commitment to academic freedom, a controversial professor, even if tenured, could be prevented from teaching in an area where his or her controversial views would be expressed. In short, what is needed to safeguard the integrity of the classroom, the university teacher’s core domain, is the protection of academic freedom, not the provision of tenure.
There exists a set of justifications for tenure within the research university, a set independent of academic freedom; and, upon examination, these justifications appropriately limit the privilege of tenure to those who engage not only in teaching the knowledge and wisdom of today but also in creating that which will be taught tomorrow.
The first of these justifications arises from the principles of governance which drive the research university, an institution personified at its core by its tenured faculty, and thus governed by them directly and through their agents. On this view, those in the university administration are the agents of the faculty, and the university has a significant interest in circumscribing carefully (in terms directly related to institutional purpose) the membership of this faculty group charged with governing its future and protecting its essence. Those in this group can be expected to make a firm commitment to the university and its core activities, and the university can be expected to make a parallel and quite special commitment to them. Tenure and its concomitant requirements describe the conditions appropriate to the reciprocal long-term commitment; it is a protection and privilege like no other, reflective of the role at the heart of the institution associated with those who hold it. Such is what we might call the governance justification for tenure.
The governance justification implies that eligibility for tenure must be limited to those appropriate to the governance role of this cohort within the university. Thus, the tenured faculty must internalize and manifest the full scope of the university’s activities—balancing and integrating in their own lives the dual mission of teaching and scholarship. Only as such will they be viewed as capable of advancing this mission. In other words, since the mission of the research university is integrated, its core governance (as opposed to the advisory and commentary role played by other shareholders) properly is entrusted only to those whose lives manifest such integration.
The core governance role of the tenured faculty connects directly to the requirement in the tenuring process that candidates meet the highest standards of internal and external validation, standards calculated to probe the capacity of the candidate to reflect the essence of the research university itself and its defining indivisible objectives of knowledge creation and transmission. Only the central role of tenured faculty within the university justifies the vast institutional energy and scrutiny each tenure case entails.
It follows that the extension of tenure to university teachers is generally inappropriate, for the most skilled and valued university teacher, by virtue of the function we associate with that role, in most cases advances only one of the university’s two defining objectives. The university teacher’s contribution to the enterprise is valuable and must be celebrated; however, the relationship of the tenured faculty to the university’s governance explains why the research university would resist extending tenure to its university teacher faculty.
The limited scope of tenure does not depend on the governance rationale alone, however. The distinguishing features of the research university (as opposed to the best of liberal arts colleges) are its commitment to the creation of knowledge and its concomitant capacity to offer students the advantage of learning from and working alongside from those engaged in research. In the simplest terms, the research university manifests this commitment by hiring faculty committed to creativity as well as to teaching and by creating an environment within which creativity can flourish. Tenure plays a series of interrelated significant roles especially important to the creation and sustenance of this environment.
First, tenure shifts some of the risks associated with creativity from the creative actor to the university; moreover, this shift enhances the university’s capacity to foster the production of knowledge. Viewed in this way (and, it is worth noting that the antecedents of this view can be traced to the founding of the University of Bologna), tenure provides the opportunity for indulgence in the contemplative life. Put another way, without the protection of tenure, the individual professor would be forced to internalize the costs of taking chances, of pursuing risks, and of being unconventional, daring or imaginative—in short, without tenure, the professor would be vulnerable to existing scholarly tastes and the preferences of colleagues. This is not a matter of academic freedom, but of the freedom of intellectual choice, autonomy and creativity.
To be sure, researchers always bear some of the costs associated with pursuing a research agenda. A scholar who devotes a period of life to pursuing a particular thesis risks having its claims undermined by the objections of others; such disappointment is the scholar’s alone to bear. If a life spent attempting to solve a problem in logic fails, that too is a failure the scholar must bear. So too are the disappointments of those who might struggle without success to compose a great piece of music or to author the next great novel. Tenure does not protect against such risks; but it does eliminate the vulnerability to the preferences and tastes of the time, and in so doing it safeguards the pursuit of precisely those acts of creation which lie at the core of a research university. Thus, the university appropriately accepts (by granting tenure) the costs associated with shifting to it the potential risks of unorthodoxy because doing so increases the possibility of producing in the aggregate precisely the sort of creativity upon which the theory of the research university depends.
There is yet another dimension to this point. In the absence of tenure, pressure would exist to pursue projects with an immediate instrumental value and to avoid projects if their instrumental value is unclear. This would be disastrous even on its own terms, for what is ultimately instrumentally valuable may seem at an earlier time to be utterly without value. In the early part of the last century, few saw the value of basic research into nuclear isotopes or non- Euclidean geometries or theories of relativity. Fewer still could have predicted the impact of replacing the paradigm of three-dimensional space and one-dimensional time with the paradigm of space-time or the Cubist movement in art. In the same way that tenure reduces the vulnerability of researchers to conventions of taste and preference, it reduces the analogous vulnerability to the prejudices of instrumentalism, the antithesis of creativity.
Of course, the university ought only to absorb the risks associated with a system of tenure if it makes its tenure decisions wisely and diversifies its risks among the faculty. Thus, once again, the university must insist that tenure standards be demanding and enforced vigilantly. At the end of the day, some of the judgments a university makes to tenure particular faculty yield wonderful results, and others do not. It cannot be otherwise. Nonetheless, so long as it devotes the resources necessary to making tenure decisions carefully and objectively, the research university makes a wise investment by tenuring those who display not only excellence in teaching but also excellence in creating new knowledge.
In short, in many ways, then, the tenure system is a way of reallocating risks away from those engaged in creative acts to the university—risks associated with scholarly taste, rhythm, and instrumental value. These are risks inherent in the scholarly endeavor and by offering tenure the university commits itself to sharing, if not to internalizing fully, the risks in order to protect the core activity of creativity. There are risks of a different sort associated with the teaching enterprise, and the university properly mitigates them (for example, through vigilant protection of academic freedom) to encourage and foster excellence in teaching. But, the importance of mitigating such risks does not justify tenure for university teachers.
There is yet another reason why, at least in the research university, tenure is available only to those who do both research and teaching, and not even to the most revered university teacher. By definition, the university teacher is measured by what is done in the classroom day after day, year after year. While teaching must be consistent in its rhythm, the creativity and genius at the highest level does not reveal itself at regular intervals. Even a genius may experience a hiatus of years before following one insight with another. A demonstrated capacity for creativity, the relevant tenure standard, lives comfortably in a world of hiatus. Once faculty members have demonstrated that capacity, they will not actuate it on a scheduled and predictable basis. We expect and even welcome this. A knowledge creator can experience vapor lock—and tenure removes obstacles for many gifted scholars so the creative process can wax, wane and flourish.
On the other hand, we cannot accept university teachers who are good one year and not the next. Still more, our understanding of what it means to be a good teacher undergoes constant reexamination. This is especially true now in a period of hyperchange which calls for adaptation to new methods, modalities, and sometimes whole new ways of looking at a subject. So while tenure appropriately eliminates the pressure of deadlines that might constrain freedom for thought at the frontier, a periodic review of freshness is appropriate for the university teacher who can and should be judged on evolving standards of excellence in the classroom.
None of this means that university teachers should not and will not have long-term relationships with the research university as long as they are meeting the standards expected of them. This raises the question of who sets the standards and evaluates the university teacher. The common enterprise university will give a lot of thought to how excellence in teaching ought to be measured. I suggest that it do so through a combination of tenured professors expert in the discipline relevant to the particular university teacher and other university teachers; this team would be charged with evaluating both substantive knowledge and transubstantive capacity, where teaching skills can be generic regardless of discipline.
Finally, the proposition that tenured faculty have a special role in governance in the research university does not imply that the university teacher (or, for that matter, any of the other members of the university community) have little or no role in governance; to the contrary, each member of the community (and certainly the university teacher) has a legitimate proprietary interest in the university and hence a valid basis for an involvement in governance. Surely, therefore, the delineation of an appropriate role in governance for university teachers will be a key element to valorizing their position as part of the common enterprise.
Moreover, there are myriad ways unrelated to governance in which the common enterprise university must valorize university teachers. Much attention must be paid to honoring the university teachers—for example, by according special recognition and rewards to the best; by integrating them into the intellectual dialogue, encouraging their participation in conferences and symposiums; and, by making them truly part of the academic mainstream. The university also must provide resources to help university teachers continue their engagement with their fields. And, simply, the tenured faculty must display, in their personal interactions with their university teacher colleagues, a healthy respect for their significant contributions to the common enterprise. Without this, the notion of the common enterprise university will not thrive.
It has long been part of the human experience that some of the greatest truths can be known only experientially—some would say mythologically—and are unknowable in traditional cognitive terms. Every research university encompasses some exploration of this experiential side of our being. And some of the great research universities, NYU among them, have gone beyond this to embrace the full range of our humanity more aggressively by creating schools to treat and teach the performing arts.
So I turn now to the arts professor—a magnificent example of how in the most complete version of the university, the dichotomy of knowledge creation and knowledge transmission sometimes provides an incomplete picture. NYU is the proud home of the Tisch School of the Arts and of performance and creative arts programs in our Steinhardt School—offering perhaps a proof that the most inspired and inspiring acts of knowledge creation are themselves manifest in artistic expression. The work of some of my best colleagues at Tisch and Steinhardt has been described as sometimes quirky, ambiguous, idiosyncratic, heretical, and unconventional. In their work, they create illusions, put on masks and make up stories to get at the truth. Such is the essential role of art in the university and the world. Look at Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, which created a body of knowledge about the distortions of American justice as substantive as any law text and which is studied in law schools across America. Art transmits its knowledge through the experience of its particular discipline—in the case of Miller as a performed work, a piece of theater.
The channeling of such creative energy through the rational structures of the University has created one of our pinnacles of excellence. And we embrace it. So the arts professor consists of those wonderful souls who are capable of the creativity just described. Their formal status within the university, usually at their choice, presents itself sometimes in the form of the tenured professor and sometimes in the form of the university teacher. And at Tisch, this system was deliberately constructed as part of the basic architecture of a new and radically different way of relating the arts to a university structure—and it works. There is perhaps no better evidence of the fact that different modalities of faculty can live in harmony and mutual valorization, because no one familiar with the story of Tisch would doubt the extraordinary contribution of that faculty’s university teachers to the perception of the school as a place of innovative, cutting-edge, imaginative creation.
At the same time, the common enterprise university will value and valorize adjunct faculty who truly can make distinctive contributions. In my lexicon, an adjunct professor is someone selected because he or she, while forswearing a full-time academic life, comes into the classroom as an exemplar of the application of knowledge creation in the world outside the gates. His or her commitment to the university will be less intense, since it is a part-time commitment in both directions.
Consider the advantage of such adjuncts at a university like NYU. Blessed by our location, we are able to draw on the unparalleled pool of talent in the world's capital city. To bring that breadth of experience and expertise to our students is not an expedient measure; it adds another layer of richness and depth to a liberal education.
Adjuncts can offer students exposure to knowledge, experience, and insight from creative and professional careers that have changed society and even the very disciplines we teach and study. Thus, at NYU, Spike Lee brings his extraordinary gift to film students. And law students learn from Marty Lipton, who has changed the face of corporate law.
Not every adjunct will be as famous—and no one should teach in the classroom who should not be there. But it would be shortsighted and dogmatic to deny the special qualities that adjunct faculty can bring—whether they are celebrated movie directors, leading public officials, or social workers who know how theory works in practice.
As I have said, adjunct faculty do not conform to the ideal academic paradigm. They are not constantly present; the opportunities for serendipitous engagement with other faculty and with students outside the classroom will be rarer; their participation in the wider academic dialogue will be intermittent. But in contexts where these costs are outweighed by the benefits of their rich experiences, adjunct professors have much to offer that we should prize.
This is also true of a relatively new but increasingly important category of faculty, the global professor. By this I mean a distinguished academic from outside the United States, who, if not willing to move here permanently, is willing on a long-term continuing basis to commit a portion of the year—two or three months—to the research university. Global professors engage in collaborative research with others on the faculty, teach courses on a compressed schedule, and make themselves available to the university’s students throughout the year—when students study abroad or through cyberspace.
Global faculty add perspective and dimension—both inside disciplines, which may manifest themselves differently in different cultural contexts—and always in a more general sense, because they bring their version of reality and the richness of their distinct values into the wider university conversation. As the pace of globalization accelerates and the value of integrating cultural perspectives other than our own is accepted in disciplines or professions that have not already embraced it, the university will enlist an increasing number of global professors. For example, NYU long has had a reputation in international education, but it now seeks to become the paradigmatic global university. To that end, first its law school, now its faculty of arts and sciences and other parts of the University have taken up the challenge of systematically assembling a truly global faculty.
While we have found that it is often possible to bring leading scholars from other countries to NYU full time, we also have discovered that when this is not feasible we can attract them to NYU and involve them in teaching and research, not on a superficial and episodic basis, but for a long term, recurring involvement in our teaching and research. Based upon our experience, global professors are increasingly central to the common enterprise university of the future and over the years they will help create powerful constellations of leading thinkers and artists from around the world. Indeed, although I treat the global professor here as a separate category of faculty, the notion behind it reflects the broader evolution of the university itself into a global institution appropriate for our time. As such, the global professor becomes metaphor and symbol for a university-wide transformation.
Parenthetically, the structure of the relationship between the university and the global professor may be duplicated usefully with a set of domestic actions as well. The visiting professor, in residence for an academic year or semester, is quite familiar—and, of course, will continue to be a part of the landscape. The university will see a new set of actors—for example, a senior staff member at a private or national laboratory or research center—who, while not coming to the campus for a full semester, would become part of the faculty in the manner described here for global professors.
The next form of faculty that I will discuss is inspired by the enormous possibilities affecting both research and teaching that are opened up by the continuing hyperchange in technology. Gradually, if sometimes grudgingly, we are letting technology transform the way we think, teach, and learn in the research university. And the truth of the matter is that all faculty will have to be expert in new technologies. As new generations of students take technology more and more for granted, they will demand faculty who deal with technology as readily and deftly as they do. Students who were apparently born with a mouse in their hands will themselves become faculty. In brief, I think that all faculty will, within a generation or two, be acting like cyber faculty, even if much of their teaching is done face-to-face and on-site. This involves more than just technical capacities. Just as there will be great research in pedagogy that will be brought to bear in teaching, there will be a whole wisdom that will integrate technologies into research and teaching that will not be known to the domestic computer user, and will require more than the traditional IT department provides.
But thus far, the response of universities has been bifurcated. Some have created new technology ventures to produce digitized versions of instructional materials, with the aim of delivering high quality content to what were assumed to be vast untapped markets of prospective students. Other institutions of higher education have pursued an electronic infrastructure which enables the traditional faculty and students to work more efficiently within the traditional modalities. I believe both responses, while useful, only represent early waves of much more dramatic innovations essential to realizing the full potential of technology for teaching and learning in the new research university.
So, at least for a significant transition period, I believe it is necessary to create a group of faculty whom I call cyber faculty, a set of new actors within the university charged with linking the coming waves of technological innovation with the challenges and aspirations of higher education. Cyber faculty will have quadruple-powered capacity: first, a level of technological sophistication well beyond what we associate with all but a few of today’s faculty and possibly even beyond what we will associate with many of tomorrow's faculty; second, an unusually creative appetite for deconstructing traditional teaching and research and reconceptualizing them; third, an advanced competence in a substantive and traditional academic discipline; fourth, and most important, an unusual talent to inspire collaboration among contributors with diverse expertise in innovation.
The cyber faculty will be viewed fully as faculty colleagues with a specific mandate within the academic enterprise to integrate research and teaching into the new world of scholarly cyberspace. This is very different from what we typically find today in our IT service organizations, our libraries or our centers for teaching excellence, where talented and dedicated people are not nuanced in their engagement with the material, only intermittently collaborative with the knowledge creators, and then often purely as facilitators.
To cite just one example of the difference the cyber faculty can make, they will be key to “distributed learning”—a richer curriculum in which individual teachers and students will have more choices, more flexibility and more access to interaction and information. Increasingly, students will be empowered to shape and tailor their learning experiences and to be engaged in a continuing dialogue with their teachers. Surely the classroom will not disappear, but conventional formats will be amplified and—yes—sometimes replaced. Part of the teaching enterprise will occur in a virtual classroom through a partnership that will link faculty and students with counterparts around the world. This will not only deepen the education of students but strengthen the viability of the university itself, which is today so personnel intensive that it cannot capture maximum efficiencies. The cyber faculty can bring technology and teaching together in ways that enrich knowledge creation, reconfigure courses, increase accessibility and possibly (but not necessarily) reduce costs.
The creation of a cyber faculty will require an investment of resources, but one that is essential to enhance and speed the integration of technology into what universities do. True, some faculty, already masters of technology, have brought it into their work; however, far from demonstrating that cyber faculty are unnecessary (at least for an interim period), what has already been achieved by some faculty provides tantalizing proof of the potential technology offers for all. We are already witnessing signs of this at NYU, where individuals are demonstrating the importance of this new category. Some are at work in collaborations of our scholars and practitioners to create new technological infrastructure and new multimedia contents for transformative approaches to learning. A team of faculty at the School of Medicine has created Surgical Interactive Multimedia Modules, which combine rich media-enhanced lectures, annotated imaging studies, pathology data, and digitized video footage of both animated and real surgical procedures. With these modules, a student in the surgery clerkship can pursue multiple lines of inquiry, interacting online, with the story of a patient—from presentation to treatment and follow-up. Students thus gain self-paced exposure to information and problem-solving experiences not available in the classroom or even in the hospital setting. Faculty can focus more on guiding the students’ engagement in learning because they need less class time to transmit information.
Inspired by this experiment, the Medical School is now launching a collaborative effort to apply the same approach to other areas of the curriculum. The collaboration crosses departments at the School; enlists computer scientists at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences and researchers in the Center for Advanced Technology; and engages the Information Technology Services, the Libraries, and the Center for Teaching Excellence in a deeper and more meaningful way, revealing new possibilities and creating new expectations that adumbrate the cyber faculty member of the future.
Conceivably, some cyber faculty may never enter a traditional classroom, and hence will not be evaluated on their capacity for traditional teaching. Instead, their performance will be normed on their ability to create in their colleagues and in the life of the university an actuation of the technological revolution, the effects of which have only begun to be felt in the research and learning process.
In short, we must encourage, draw on, respect and reward an appropriate blend of the array of faculty actors I have described here. This will be a foundation of the new research university, creating a culture of institutional citizenship that honors equality of voice and the role of all members of the community. The notion of faculty governance which will characterize this university does not entail faculty literally running the institution, and goes far beyond mere consultation. It entails instead meaningful inclusion of all faculty in a discussion of institutional priorities, conducted in a way that enables them to balance the variables and complexities of decision making. It entails a commitment by university leadership to conference ideas with faculty in a transparent process that empowers them to participate meaningfully in shaping both aspirations and strategies. This inevitably will add heat to exchanges, which is surely a sign of institutional health and of a faculty secure enough in their academic freedom to argue and to disagree. In these ways, the university becomes not only a protected place of open and vigorous exchange but also a sacred space where democratic principles are modeled.
I have argued that many of the best of the faculty of today will embrace this vision and not reject it as just abstract theory. And I have asserted that universities will invite and evoke that response by adding another element to our traditional criteria for faculty—not just excellence in scholarship and quality of teaching—but a dedication to the university community. I have acknowledged that some potential faculty will be allergic to this ideal; but for many, the very demand will appeal to their higher and more aspirational conception of themselves, will raise the standard of their ambitions and affect every aspect of what they do. For them the mutual obligations of the social compact will be a positive and even irresistibly powerful magnet.
For NYU and other great research universities the common enterprise ideal is the best, and in the end the only way to fulfill our mission for the faculty, students and society of the twenty-first century. This story is not just about one university. It is proof of the power of an idea that I believe is the way forward for great research universities. Each institution will find its own path. But I am convinced that the guiding principles are the same: self-reflection, but not self-absorption, at the institutional and individual level; respect for the rigor of scholarship, but equal respect for the vocation of teaching; the cultivation of the autonomy of the individual mind and creative spirit coupled with the integration of every mind and talent into a community of learning. In my view this is the research university of the future, rooted in enduring principles but ready to encompass and enhance the best possibilities of this transformed and transformative era. I look forward to that—and to the dialogue ahead—at NYU and all areas in higher education.