Drawing from the literature on faculty culture and striving institutions, my exploratory case study sheds light on the work tensions and experiences of faculty at a striving university. As the pursuit of prestige permeates the American higher education landscape, a greater understanding is needed on how institutional striving towards prestige influences faculty work. While variation exists in the work of professors across institutional types and disciplines, one constant holds true: too many responsibilities are competing for faculty members’ time. Current research on faculty work posits that the modern professor encounters disparate demands that make achieving a balance challenging.
Using a conceptual framework of faculty culture, I present the tensions in faculty work at the institutional, disciplinary, and individual levels as well as at the overlapping components of each. With data from interviews with arts and science faculty, my findings suggest that faculty members at a striving institution find themselves situated at a university in the middle of an identity crisis which creates a series of frustrations for faculty. Further, faculty hold affiliation not only to their institutions, but they are simultaneously members of their respective disciplines. Thus, they are socialized to a set of norms and expectations from their fields while attempting to satisfy institutional expectations. Complexities emerge within and across the university and disciplines that faculty must navigate. My work adds to the empirical discussion concerning striving institutions and faculty work with implications for both practice and scholarship.
Education Policy and Leadership
Michael S. Harris, Ed.D.
Sondra N. Barringer, Ph.D.
Denisa Gándara, Ph.D.
Alexandra E. Pavlakis, Ph.D.
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Ellis, Molly, "Core Tensions: An Exploratory Case Study of Faculty Work at a Striving Institution" (2019). Department of Education Policy and Leadership Theses and Dissertations. 3.