While Kroll notes that not even administrators are exempt from part time status, something we can’t fully relate to, he writes “the most influential office at the college is human resources.” We can’t assume KVCC ‘s office of human resources is directly linked to the office of the president (though even if KVCC’s message from the president is slightly more substantial than ECC’s greeting from the president, she makes no reference of faculty, so give KY some credit for including the sentence “Each teaching faculty member is of high quality and provides learners with personal attention in small classes.”). Perhaps more ominous is the following statement, where Kroll describes how his faculty teach and then leave, noting “collegiality has all but disappeared.”
This book, Kroll asserts, provides insight into what we already know: “the community college, what the authors call the nouvea college is moving inexorably toward job training.” The book contains nine chapters, which boils down to the idea that because colleges receive less public funding, they have to rely more on meeting the needs of business and industry in order to increase their student numbers to receive more government funding. Perhaps Kroll describes it better than my summary of his summary:
Nostradamus couldn’t have written in better to describe ECC’s current situation. But there’s more doom and gloom: “These are alarming trends for faculty who think of them selves as teachers, as people who love subject matter, teaching, and learning—not as ‘consultants, salespeople, account representatives, trouble-shooters.’” Amen.
In short, as the community college, more and more, resembles and behaves like a business and caters to economic demands, the faculty’s role in the college governance has changed (chapter 4); the role of technology has grown (chapter 5); the reliance on part-time faculty has increased (chapter 6); and the philosophical divide between faculty and management concerning the community colleges’ mission has widened (chapter 7).
Perhaps this is how the administration sees college faculty: the Starbucks barista, a cell phone salesperson, or the annoying kid at Best Buy who thinks you know nothing about cameras/computers.
Kroll describes the final chapter in the book as calling for faculty to redefine their professional identity (because, community college faculty “don’t publish” and, well, you know, it’s a community college, not Harvard—who do you think you are?): “community college faculty must work within the system to foster the academic function of the college. The authors believe that the New Economy is here to stay and that community college management will continue to promote market-driven job training. This works, I suppose, when the college “management” listens to its faculty and encourages some sort of dialogue.
Kroll, for his part, agrees that faculty must work to support the academic function (here, he means teaching rather than wiping out a few short orders of fries or a vente mocha-capa-carmello-latte) because some 80% of community college students transfer to a four year college. Then, he disagrees with the authors of the book, writing that community college faculty don’t need to redefine their professional identity. He also disagrees with the idea of the “New Economy” where colleges should scale back their full-time faculty in favor of part-time faculty: “Instead, they [the authors] might have suggested an even stronger faculty position, one that encouraged faculty to be a site of resistance, in both action and in pedagogy.”
The final paragraph of Kroll’s review cuts even deeper, as he calls for faculty to continue to resist the role administration is forcing on them: “If faculty accept the role of intermediary, they accept students as ‘customers,’ ‘workers,’ or ‘consumers’; they accept faculty as ‘consultants, salespeople, account representatives, trouble-shooters’; they accept the continued reliance on and exploitation of part-time faculty they accept education as job training—job training that, for many community college students doesn’t allow them equality in what the job is, but instead offers just enough training to be stuck in ‘second best.’”
Edison Community College: We’re Second Best!
None of us want that to be our slogan.
Here’s a suggestion for another book for college “management” to read:
“This volume provides a broad overview of community college faculty: who they are, what they do, and what factors affect their career and work. The authors also analyze community college teaching as a profession in an effort to take a fresh look at community college faculty and their work. The goal is to make all readers come to view community college faculty members as colleague making a distinct contribution to their students and to faculty work. Such an understanding is critical in the current policy environment that values postsecondary education for everyone and sees the community college as a major venue for providing that education.”