All photos courtesy of the Ernest L. Boyer Center Archives at Messiah College.
n 1990, Ernest Boyer published Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate, which challenged and redefined views of the priorities and evaluation of faculty. Having written the book near the end of his life, Boyer had a long history of experience in higher education from which to draw, including service as a chancellor in the State University of New York system, the U.S. Commissioner of Education from 1977-79, and president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching from 1979 until his death in 1995. Boyer’s work was rooted in his Christian faith. He spent the first two years of his undergraduate education at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, before completing it at Greenville College in Greenville, Illinois; he later served on Messiah’s Board of Trustees. Early in his career, he also served as an academic dean at Upland College, a now-closed Brethren in Christ institution, and he retained his strong connections with Christian higher education throughout his life. In honor of Scholarship Reconsidered ’s th 25 anniversary, Drew Moser, dean of experiential learning and associate professor of higher education at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, led a team of editors in publishing a revised and expanded edition of the text. Cynthia Wells, assistant professor of higher education, director of the Ernest L. Boyer Center at Messiah College, and a contributor to the new edition, interviewed Moser about Boyer and the new publication; the interview has been edited for length. Cynthia Wells: I am pleased to spend some time talking to you about Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate, Expanded Edition, for which you served as lead editor. Can you tell me the origins of this project?
Drew Moser: I was doing some work for a biography of Ernest Boyer that I’m coauthoring with Todd Ream [professor of higher education at Taylor University], and it suddenly dawned on me as I was citing Scholarship Reconsidered that the
Black and white photo of Ernest L. Boyer at a press conference discussing new educational strategies from the federal government.
most recent edition was the original 1990 version. I realized that we were coming upon the 25th anniversary [and] found it a bit strange that a book would persist so long in its original iteration. So that led to a series of conversations and next thing we knew, we were working on an expanded edition that not only considers Scholarship Reconsidered in its future but also to looks at the impact this book has had on the academy over the last 25 years. CW: Tell me what you think the value of Scholarship Reconsidered: Expanded Edition will be to higher education in general, and what will be its impact on Christian colleges in particular?
DM: Both are really good questions. In terms of higher education in general, this expanded edition represents the informative and important ideas of Scholarship Reconsidered to today’s current climate of higher education. When we think about the important topics, such as tenure or what the faculty role is in an age of what we call faculty “unbundling,” what would Scholarship Reconsidered have to offer in this conversation? Boyer’s ideas are still very relevant – in some ways almost more relevant – than they were 25 years ago. This provides an avenue for higher education scholars and practitioners and leaders to consider his ideas. It also provides a new generation of scholars with an idea of the book’s impact – the fact that it has been cited over 6,000
times and counting in its 25 years shows that it has had endurance and persistence in the field. I think it’s a helpful, viable resource to have conversation in the academy on the issue of scholarship. We’ve also included a discussion guide at the end of the book to help faculty groups or faculty development officers facilitate dialogue on their campuses on what is presented in the book. Boyer’s background was in Christian higher education. In many ways, I think Scholarship Reconsidered was his attempt to bring what he believed was great about Christian higher education to American higher education more broadly. When you think about the framework of Scholarship Reconsidered – the four domains of application, discovery, integration and teaching – and when you dive into what those actually are, you’ll find that many Christian colleges are well-positioned and already doing many of the things that Boyer is promoting and championing. We are by nature and by necessity interdisciplinary enterprises with a strong focus on teaching and on service. A lot of credibility for what Christian colleges are doing can be found in Scholarship Reconsidered. It also provides ways for many Christian colleges that are not Research I institutions – and probably should not endeavor to be Research I institutions – to challenge and support to their faculty and the work that they engage themselves in. It also provides language, tools and frameworks for Christian colleges ADVANCE | FALL 2015