The Cleveland Stater is published online and in print by students enrolled in the School of Communication at Cleveland State University.
The Innerlink: A CLASS Publication
Expertise in a given field comes in many forms. For academia, research is king. If someone is known for his published works, it establishes him as a foremost expert in that field. In the professional world, success is measured by excellent skills-based work, management and organizational leadership.
At a university, scholarly knowledge and professional knowledge come together, but they don’t always mesh. Academics typically hold the highest ranking teaching positions and industry professionals who come to teach are in and out every few years.
This fundamental problem in higher education is epidemic at Cleveland State University. As an urban institution working to build strong ties with the community and businesses around us, CSU has a responsibility to show industry professionals who come to teach the same respect for their skills as their colleagues who conduct scholarly research.
The institutional manifestation of respect for individual work and teaching comes in the form of the rank of tenure. Tenure is a time-honored tradition at colleges and universities world-wide that acts as a shield to protect professors from the politics of higher education. Administration cannot fire a tenured professor without extreme cause, such as the professor committing a crime.
However, it’s mostly those professors from academic backgrounds, holding doctorates, who are considered for their work and awarded tenure. Meanwhile, people who have first-hand knowledge of how industries like business and media work from having successfully worked in those fields are shown the door after their time as term faculty expires. Valuable MBAs and people with master’s degrees who come to CSU to help prepare eager students for working in the professional industry of their choice aren’t getting a fair shot to grab the brass ring of tenure.
CSU does recognize the importance of professionals in the College of Education and Human Services. There, professionals from nursing, social work, education and other fields hold clinical positions that allow them to teach with the same job security as their scholarly colleagues. But that’s only one piece of the university picture.
Some of the problems with this issue can be budget related. We’re sure that we’d have more tenured professionals if the collective bargaining agreement between the university professors’ union and CSU didn’t have caps on the professional service and clinical positions. This doesn’t excuse the issue, though.
The bodies responsible for accreditation are possibly more to blame than anyone else. In pretty much every school and department, the accreditation bodies are looking for doctoral-level people to fill the roles as professors. The problem is that not every program is created equal. A chemistry class benefits from a professor active in doctoral research, leading the way as an expert in their field. However, a marketing class would be much better served learning its course theory from someone who has applied those concepts in a practical matter that relates to that field of study.
We have seen turnover involving great instructors leaving because they don’t qualify for a tenure track. Just like building a sports dynasty, we need consistency to become elite as a group. Thankfully, our school does have the fortune of professors who are active in doctoral work, but also have first-hand industry knowledge, but this is a rare breed of professor.
In nursing, accrediting bodies want professors to be doctoral level, but most nursing schools don’t even have doctoral nursing programs. The supply for professors can’t meet the demand for nurses in the work force. That creates a fundamental problem that stretches beyond the example of the nursing program. This problem begs for someone to stand up and take action.
We can’t stand by and watch as some blind higher power dictates how students in higher education are supposed to be taught. Being prepared for the working world is a key component to a university education. Well-rounded knowledge, theory and practical skills are all part of the mix.
The time to stand up for the dynamics of a university learning environment is now. Let’s take our mantra seriously and make sure when people see Engaged Learning on the door, they know exactly what it means.
Editor’s Note: Vince Fratiani wrote this editorial on behalf of The Stater.
Higher academic standards overdue at CSU
ON THE FRONT PAGE
Board expected to raise tuition
Enrollment numbers up for fall '09
CSU and Cleveland Play House prepare to move to Allen Theatre
CSU acquires Heritage Suites, Prospect apartment complex
Jehovah's Witnesses come to CSU
Restaurant and park to highlight changes on Euclid Avenue
Archives offer glimpse into CSU history
Communication program revised
Local businesses fight through the summer grind
We take a look, piece by piece and level by level.
A SPECIAL FEATURE BY THE CLEVELAND STATER STAFF
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