November 15, 1999
Volume 52, No. 12
Eugene Rice to speak on the 'New American Scholar'
Prominent education scholar Eugene Rice will present a public lecture, "Where Love and Need Are One: Teaching in the Life of the New American Scholar," Nov. 18 at 4 p.m. in Cox Hall.
Rice, scholar in residence and director of the Forum on Faculty Roles and Rewards at the American Association of Higher Education (AAHE), will touch on issues particularly relevant to the Emory community in his lecture, which is sponsored by the University Advisory Council on Teaching.
Currently the Faculty Council, in collaboration with the provost's office and the Council of Deans, is embarking on a two-year examination of the role of Emory faculty, examining every aspect of the life of the professoriate at the University. The bulk of Rice's work these days focuses on exactly this topic, and he has coined the term "New American Scholar" for what he sees as the future for those entering the field of higher education.
"There is a changing of the guard--in 10 years the faculty is going to look very different than it does now," said Rice, referring not only to the fast-approaching retirement of Baby Boom professors but also shifts in gender, race and ethnicity, and other factors. "There's a sea change in terms of the strengths of departments; English and history and sociology are not the first majors anymore. We're becoming professionalized."
For most of his career, Rice was a professor of sociology and religion at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., where he helped initiate the experimental "cluster college" concept. Prior to moving to the AAHE, Rice was vice president and dean of faculty at Antioch College in Ohio. His teaching and research focus on the sociology and ethics of the professions and the workplace.
"I've been a professor all my life and have commitments to academic freedom and academic autonomy, and I think we're shifting from how we go about our work," Rice said. "The kind of autonomy that attracted most of us into the profession is not going to be there. We're going to have to work in groups, and technology is going to trigger a lot of that."
Not that Rice is a doomsayer for academia. He does believe higher education could stand to be more efficient and productive; he sets up a dichotomy between the "collegial" and the "managerial" mindsets and says the two groups could learn from each other.
"We need to learn to talk one another's language and work collaboratively," he said. "Instead, we're developing an oppositional culture, and you get faculty kind of digging in. Then you get people from external constituencices like law and business who are being made administrators, presidents and development people, and they come with a kind of antagonism to faculty; they don't understand the collegial culture and the importance of tenure. So there's this strain."
Another problem lies with students being conditioned to think of the university as "where you go to hustle for private advantage," Rice said. "We've sold education to students on that basis, that you can make a higher starting salary if you have a four-year education, and the more prestigious the university, the higher the starting salary.
"We haven't talked about education as part of the public good, as preparing us to participate in a functioning democracy.
"Still," Rice said, "there's much good in what we've done. One of the reasons we have so many foreign students is that American universities are the envy of the world. Yet for us to contintue to be seen as that, we're going to have to address what we're doing."