Faculty Examined

I ATTENDED JOURNALISM SCHOOL in the late ’70s, when half the students in class had been inspired by Woodward and Bernstein and a hefty percentage of the professors were tough daily newspaper editors who treated us all as annoying cub reporters. On the first day of one class, a craggy white-haired Chicago Tribune editor—our teacher for the course—grimaced in our general direction and said, “There. I’ve smiled at you. It’ll be the last time.”

My teacher for the weekly three-hour writing lab was the Midwest bureau chief for Newsweek, who had a friendlier style and a sly sense of humor. He would hold mock press conferences, where he would pretend to be a politician or crime victim; we would swarm around, calling out questions about the manufactured crisis of the day. “What’s your name?” someone would always ask. He’d always reply, “Frank Maier. The usual spelling.” Keep in mind that anyone who got a name wrong received an F on that particular assignment.

These were the “practitioner professors” of my major, the adjuncts of their era. They weren’t academics, and they didn’t spend their whole lives teaching. They were the experts who came in from the field to show us how the work was really done. None of their classes were easy, but all of their lessons have proved valuable to me at every point in my career.

Adjunct and practitioner professors have always been part of collegiate education, but in recent decades their numbers have risen dramatically. Adrianna Kezar, a USC professor who studies adjuncts as a research specialty, not only chronicles those climbing numbers, but suggests that overreliance on adjuncts can result in poor student outcomes unless schools deploy that segment of their workforce with thoughtfulness and intention. In “Adjusting for Adjuncts,” we talk to her and many others to get a comprehensive picture of how some business schools are incorporating nonacademic, non-tenure-track faculty into their programs—and how they could do it better.

In this issue, we also examine the changing roles of business professors and what business schools are doing to support, reward, and motivate their faculty. In “All Facets of Faculty,” administrators describe how they are expanding their faculty development programs to make sure their professors have the skills to become “better educators, better researchers, and better leaders.”

And the industry will need these multifaceted faculty, says IE Business School’s Santiago Iñiguez, AACSB’s new board chair. In “The Next Phase of Business Education,” he acknowledges that management education is a mature industry, but one that is ripe for rejuvenation. While higher education is in a period of “deep-rooted change and widespread disruption,” he writes, management education will flourish if its leaders innovate and adapt their approaches to teaching tomorrow’s leaders.

These future leaders will draw their inspiration from a wide range of faculty, whether they’re scholars undertaking complex research or practitioners fresh from launching their own startups. The classroom might change and the global environment might radically transform, but if students are going to learn how to navigate the complex business landscape, we’ll always need great teachers.