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BRC Proposed Draft Standards Ongoing Series—Faculty Qualifications and Engagement

November 2012

Few accreditation-related topics receive as much attention as the current Standard 10: Faculty Qualifications. The standard places qualified faculty into one of two categories. First, academically qualified (AQ), a category that normally requires a doctorate and ongoing scholarly activity, which is often gauged by publications in peer review journals. Second, professionally qualified (PQ), is a category that requires prior professional experience of a sufficient level and duration, as well as ongoing professional activity.

The Blue Ribbon Committee on Accreditation Quality (BRC) has learned from the membership that this two category framework is neither robust enough nor sufficiently developed enough to guide current and emerging faculty models in high-quality business schools. In particular, current standards do not reference or encourage the increasing emphasis placed on the intersection of academic and professional engagement, which business school leaders worldwide believe is extremely important to meeting the needs of business and society. In response to this significant member feedback, the BRC is proposing a new, more realistic and flexible standard for faculty qualifications that not only recognizes, but encourages, this intersection.

In the proposed standards, qualified faculty could take four different paths depending on their initial academic preparation and professional experience, as well as their ongoing scholarly and professional engagement activities. The paths align with a general framework for understanding faculty qualifications, which is articulated in the proposed Standard 15.

Proposed Standard 15: The school maintains and strategically deploys participating and supporting faculty that collectively and individually demonstrate significant academic and professional engagement sustaining intellectual capital necessary to support high-quality outcomes consistent with the school's mission and strategies. [FACULTY QUALIFICATIONS AND ENGAGEMENT]

This standard is designed to strengthen the intersection of academic and professional engagement among faculty in the scholarly environment of accredited business schools. It recognizes, for example, that professors who have earned PhDs could indeed augment their academic preparation with deep professional activities, which can enhance their knowledge base for teaching. It also recognizes that, in increasing numbers, experienced executives are transitioning to academic careers in business schools, where their ongoing development is based on quality scholarship. These people can, and already do, create significant value by fostering a stronger connection between the academic strengths of a school and the practice of business and management, not only in teaching but also in scholarship. That is, business school leaders believe the proposed standard will positively impact both the educational experience for students and the relevance of scholarship.

Members also told the BRC that the current Standard 10 is often not applied with a sufficiently broad view of the types of research activities that can maintain academic qualifications. The proposed Standard 15 thus reinforces the long-held AACSB belief that there are many ways to maintain intellectual capital as an academic, including a wide range of scholarship (discovery, application/integration, and teaching) and appropriate professional activities. It also reiterates that the types of maintenance activities across faculty should fit the mission of the programs and school. Table 15–1 organizes information about individual qualifications and 15–2 organizes information about how they are deployed in the degree programs.

The proposed Standard 15 continues to provide broad guidance regarding the mix of faculty. The ratios put forth in the proposed draft standards are designed to elevate the emphasis on scholarship, but at the same time provide more flexibility in how it is achieved depending on the portfolio of academic programs and mission of the school. The proposed standard tries to address the complaint that the current Standard 10 has resulted in AQ definitions that support the "lowest common denominator" rather than definitions that appreciate the breadth of academic preparation and ongoing professional development really necessary for quality.

The focus of the standard continues to be on the intellectual capital (content expertise) of faculty to deliver quality business education consistent with its mission and program objectives. Additional standards that cover other faculty-related concerns, such as the amount of faculty resources and faculty management and support, are noted below. The BRC's proposed Standard 5, most closely related to current Standard 9, retains the definitions of participating and supporting faculty and the teaching-related ratios. The proposed Standard 5 also recognizes the relationship of teaching/learning models to the "division of labor" among faculty and professional staff. Proposed Standard 6 is very similar to current Standard 11; however, it excludes attention to developing teaching effectiveness as this is covered in a separate standard.

Proposed Standard 5: The school maintains and deploys a faculty sufficient to ensure quality outcomes across the range of degree programs offered and to achieve other mission components. Students in all programs, disciplines, and locations have the opportunity to receive instruction from appropriately qualified faculty. [FACULTY SUFFICIENCY AND DEPLOYMENT]

Proposed Standard 6: The school has well-documented and communicated processes to manage and support faculty members over the progression of their careers consistent with the school's mission, expected outcomes, and strategies. [FACULTY MANAGEMENT AND SUPPORT]

In summary, the BRC draft standards related to faculty aim to elevate scholarship and allow flexibility in how schools achieve their missions by hiring, developing, and deploying the best mix of faculty.