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An Integrated Approach to Academic Reinforcement Systems

Institutional Management in Higher Education

Over the last few years, university professors’ careers have undergone a change approaching a true revolution: a major diversification in career models, from fundamental research to professional innovation to knowledge transfer; increased use of computerised tools and the Internet in both teaching and research; the all but mandatory requirement to form research teams and networks, often multidisciplinary in nature; the growth in partnerships with industry for both training and research; and ever more complex and demanding regulations governing intellectual property. We also see more competition, often ferocious, among universities and between academe and private companies to attract the most promising candidates. In this context, it has become more vital than ever before for universities to put in place reinforcement systems that are both fair and capable of motivating excellence and of attracting and retaining the best people. In past decades, the traditional reinforcers were the merit pay system and tenure, not counting other incentives used on a random and situational basis, generally in the absence of well-established rules. The current context demands a richer, more complex, more transparent and more diversified reinforcement system that will integrate a set of incentives that are more closely tied to current academic needs and faculty members’ quality of life. This article, which is based on the experiences and thought process of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Université de Montréal and on the orientations of a number of North American universities, illustrates an integrated approach to academic reinforcement systems, from hiring to retirement, and a merit pay model adapted to the university of the 21st century. The need to review promotion criteria and standards is particularly emphasised...

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