A Business School Dean Looks 10 Years Back & 10 Years Forward

Kata Graduate School of Business

Katz Graduate School of Business

Do you think we’ll eventually see the end of tenure?

Because universities are struggling to figure out what to do, they are hiring more and more of these contract faculty. Just the current actions alone over time suggest that tenure may not disappear but the number of tenure-stream positions will decline. That will become a battle in universities in coming years. I don’t see anybody who has tried to take tenure on and try to eliminate it. What’s happened is that the easy solution is that schools have hired larger and larger percentages of contract faculty.

Tenure is going to become a really privileged status that only a few people have. It’s partly cost issues but it’s also partly the competition. Schools can offer people big reductions in their teaching loads. As a public university, we couldn’t have people who teach only one or three courses a year. I don’t think it would be acceptable. Privates may have an easier time maintaining tenure than the publics, but as the differences occur it will bid up some prices, too.

There was a recent estimate that the cost to a business school of a single academic article by faculty is roughly $400,000. That seems awfully high and difficult to justify.

It’s possible that numbers in the hundreds of thousands could be accurate because if you take into account that fewer people are sole authors what happens is that you might have two, three or even four of your faculty on a top article. If your reward system doesn’t divide by four, then it’s possible it would be very expensive. I don’t know that cost itself is a problem if the work people are doing is really valuable and is helpful. The challenge is that there are articles published that go into top journals but don’t necessarily have a lot of practical relevance. That is going to be an issue.

The AACSB is beginning to get at the practical level of faculty research. What the AACSB is doing right now is they have put the marker out that you have to provide measures of the relevance of the research in 2013 guidelines. Five to seven years from now, I think you’ll see them congeal around certain metrics. Right now there is a lot of room for people to find ways to demonstrate relevance.

Over the next ten years that will be on the front burner and it will be interesting to watch. How are they measuring the practical relevance of articles? If we are spending several hundred thousands of dollars on articles that don’t add to knowledge and are not relevant to practitioners than it is a problem.

What impact do you ultimately think technology will have on business education?

Universities are going to have to adjust to the fact that students are using technology more. If we ignore it, it is at our peril. There is going to have to be increased use of technology but I’m not sure that what some of the entrepreneurs are suggesting is where it will make a difference. As I look at things, I think technology gives us increased ability to measure student performance. I think we will see it make a difference there before we see everyone in online courses. That enables competency based education models.

The progression isn’t toward MOOCs but using the tech to measure success and figuring out ways to give students in person guidance with online learning. It’s not going to go away and schools have to deal with it. I don’t know of many schools that are doing more than just experimenting at the edges right now. When I talk with different deans, I hear more people say they are concerned they are behind on technology than they are ahead. I don’t like ‘the sky is falling’ kind of approach that some people have been taking because I don’t think it is going to happen that way. iI’s not a tsunami we’re seeing. It’s like a dam and the water is rising slowly on the other side.


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