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Institutional Adaptation and Professionalization:
Faculty Recruitment in Colleges of Visual Art and Design

An Abstract Submitted by

Gail Victoria Landrum

Committee Chair (Deceased): Ronald L. Nuttall, Ph.D., Boston College
Substitute Chair: Ted I. K. Youn, Ph.D. Boston College
Additional Members: Mary M. Brabeck, Ph.D., Steinhardt School of Education, NYU
Ismael Carreras, Ph.D., Boston College / Eidetics Marketing Research

Visual arts higher education is under-researched.  A study of decision-making practices within this organizational sector was conducted to investigate indications of vulnerability on the part of art and design colleges to the forces of exogenous, normative field pressures for conformity in faculty recruitment practices.  Decisional behaviors related to faculty search routines were examined comparatively among three distinct organizational sectors of post-secondary art and design higher education: 1.) specialized mission colleges for visual arts, 2.) four-year liberal arts colleges, and 3.) research universities.  Several variables were identified as possible factors influencing outcomes for the recruitment of practicing artists and design professionals into full-time teaching positions.  These factors were manipulated within an L8 Taguchi fractional factorial design, as part of a multi-modal approach that incorporated three research instruments developed to ascertain determinants of faculty selection.  Hypothetical job candidates possessing varying levels of the factors were presented in a series of descriptive written vignettes to a sample of 170 participants comprised of department chairs, academic deans, program directors and coordinators who responded to an online survey to assess institutional preferences in recruitment.  A multiple regression analysis was performed to test the significance of seven individual variables in predicting two criterion measures: 1.) the likelihood of hiring and 2.) perceived qualification and competence for full-time faculty work.  Effect coding of categorical variables was used to determine potential interaction between the seven individual factors of candidate desirability for selection and institutional categories representing the three organizational sectors.  A statistically significant interaction between the prior teaching factor and two institutional categories was observed.  Other significant factors for job candidate selection were also identified: possession of terminal degree (MFA or its equivalent), prestige of degree granting institution(s), earned honors and awards, exhibition history, and candidate’s gender.  The artist residency experience was not demonstrated to have a significant predictive role as a factor in faculty recruitment. Results of the two regression analyses suggested partial evidence for institutional isomorphism – expressive-symbolic search behaviors intended to assuage collective anxiety under conditions of uncertainty.  A Kruskal-Wallis analysis of rank-ordered recruitment methods was also conducted, which indicated preferences for local faculty searches among visual arts colleges.  An ANOVA of the seven vignette factors determined that terminal degree attainment had the most significant effect on candidate selection, suggesting an emerging trend toward professionalization in the visual arts college sector.

The Study of Visual Art and Design Academicians

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