Winter 1990 // Volume 28 // Number 4 // To The Point // 4TP2

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Rewarding Service


Robert L. Crom
Director, Extension, Agriculture and Natural Resources
National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges
Washington, D.C.

Norland's article makes points of special significance at a time when issues-based programming is dictating the need for a broader and more diverse disciplinary base.

Certainly, the service obligation of the land-grant university is broader than that described in the Smith-Lever Act. Histories of many of those institutions provide evidence that this perception has been shared by many faculty, deans, and presidents who involved themselves in a broad array of off-campus, problem-focused educational efforts decades before the founding of the Cooperative Extension System.

That evidence also supports Norland's point that all land-grant faculty inherit a responsibility for public service regardless of the source of their salary. Although a university-wide service expectation may no longer be unique to land-grant institutions, the initial legislation coupled with the substantial investment of grants of public lands and over a century of continued help from public (federal and state) funds make a strong case for that expectation.

That expectation also has a logical and pragmatic base. Only after research discoveries are diffused and adapted to application within a state, or beyond, do they yield their ultimate return in economic or social impacts. That's as true for a discovery in engineering, education, or business management as in agriculture or home economics.

Norland quite appropriately suggests performance evaluation systems are an important mechanism for encouraging quality in teaching, research, and service. In fact, they may also exert a significant influence on quantity of service as well. If some faculty aren't devoting time to service, perhaps it's because they perceive the academic promotion and reward system as failing to reinforce the historic service expectations.

As institutions develop and implement performance appraisal systems, as Norland suggests, might there be merit in addressing some additional considerations relating to rewards?

If it's fair to assume that impact on priority problems or issues is one dimension of quality, it becomes extremely important that performance appraisal systems incorporate systematic identification and consideration of societal needs and priorities.

As the solutions to our societal and economic problems increasingly require multidisciplinary team approaches across traditional academic boundaries, administrators and faculties have an increasing challenge. One dimension of the challenge is to find mechanisms for rewarding performance that contributes to institutional goals above, or broader than, those at departmental or college levels. Another dimension is to find means of evaluating and rewarding team productivity as well as individual productivity within that team.