The Mix of Military and Civilian Faculty at the United States Air Force Academy

The Mix of Military and Civilian Faculty at the United States Air Force Academy: Finding a Sustainable Balance for Enduring Success

Kirsten M. Keller
Nelson Lim
Lisa M. Harrington
Kevin O’Neill
Abigail Haddad
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 196
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  • Book Info
    The Mix of Military and Civilian Faculty at the United States Air Force Academy
    Book Description:

    This report examines how changes to the current military-civilian faculty composition at the United States Air Force Academy might affect cadets’ officership and academic development, cost, staffing challenges, and officer career development. Based on the study’s findings, the report makes recommendations for a faculty composition that best balances these key factors and is sustainable into the future.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-8115-5
    Subjects: Business, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Tables
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xv-xxii)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxv-xxvi)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    The mission of the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) is “to educate, train and inspire men and women to become officers of character, motivated to lead the United States Air Force in service to our nation.”¹ To achieve this mission, USAFA provides cadets (roughly 4,500 students across four class years) with military training as well as a four-year college education similar to that offered at civilian institutions.² Military training is overseen by the Commandant of Cadets (who holds the rank of brigadier general) and a staff of roughly 300. Academic instruction is overseen by the Dean of Faculty (who...

  10. CHAPTER TWO Current Faculty Composition at the United States Air Force Academy
    (pp. 5-12)

    This chapter provides a descriptive overview of the current composition of academic faculty at USAFA. Here, we can see the long-term, systemic implications of previously set policies. The data presented here were provided by USAFA in March 2011.¹

    Currently, USAFA authorizations are for 570 academic faculty members with a mix of roughly 71 percent military officers and 29 percent civilians. However, if we account for military staffing shortages and temporary faculty, actual civilian representation was closer to 37 percent in the spring semester of 2011 when this research was conducted (see Figure 2.1).²

    Compared with the faculty composition at the...

  11. CHAPTER THREE USAFA Senior Leader Perspectives on the Ideal Faculty Mix
    (pp. 13-16)

    As a first step in this study, we conducted semistructured interviews with USAFA senior leaders and academic division heads (all of whom were active-duty or retired Air Force officers) to gather current institutional perspectives regarding the composition of USAFA’s academic faculty. The interview questions focused primarily on the following three broad topics:¹

    the role of different faculty types in helping USAFA achieve its mission

    the ideal military-civilian faculty mix

    challenges to achieving the ideal military-civilian faculty mix.

    Overall, all the USAFA senior leaders with whom we spoke maintained that both military and civilian faculty members play valuable but distinct roles...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR Cadets’ Officership Development
    (pp. 17-30)

    Given USAFA’s primary mission to produce “officers of character,” the first factor we examined was cadets’ officership development, which we define as the extent to which cadets are socialized into the Air Force culture and the role of being an officer. USAFA senior leaders stressed the importance of officership development as a key criterion in how they thought about the ideal faculty mix, and we assessed the role of faculty in cadets’ officership development through those interviews, as well as focus groups with current faculty members, and a survey of cadets.

    As a follow-up to our interviews with USAFA senior...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE Cadets’ Academic Development
    (pp. 31-52)

    Although USAFA is responsible for commissioning officers into the Air Force, it also provides a high-quality four-year college education. Therefore, we identified academics and the extent to which cadets are provided a rigorous and intellectually challenging education as critical factors in our analysis. We assessed the role of faculty in cadets’ academic development through four key sources of information: (1) data provided by USAFA on the academic qualifications of its faculty members, (2) findings from our USAFA senior leader interviews and faculty focus groups, (3) results from our survey of cadets, and (4) a quantitative analysis of potential differences in...

  14. CHAPTER SIX Relative Costs of Military and Civilian Faculty
    (pp. 53-68)

    In this chapter, we describe the relative cost to the government of employing an Air Force officer as a faculty member and employing a civilian as a faculty member in terms of cost per individual. We attempted to capture only those costs that differ for military and civilian faculty. Costs associated with base and USAFA infrastructure (e.g., office space, computing resources, supplies) were not included. Therefore, the costs presented here should not be interpreted as an absolute estimate of the total cost of a military or civilian work-year but as a relative cost intended for use in comparing military and...

  15. CHAPTER SEVEN Faculty Staffing Challenges
    (pp. 69-76)

    The Air Force is having difficulty meeting USAFA military faculty staffing requirements. We explored this issue by gathering information from several sources, including interviews with USAFA senior leaders and staff in charge of faculty staffing, as well as focus groups with current faculty members.¹ We also conducted a daylong information session with the AFPC personnel who are specifically responsible for USAFA military assignments and a selected number of representatives from officer assignment teams to gather additional information on assignment policies and practices and the challenges AFPC faces with regard to USAFA staffing. This chapter focuses primarily on military staffing challenges,...

  16. CHAPTER EIGHT Officer Career Development
    (pp. 77-86)

    The final factor that we examined as part of this research was officer career development, which we define as the impact that USAFA instructor duty has on the professional development of officers sent to teach at USAFA. We examined the impact on officer career development through our interviews and focus groups with USAFA senior leaders and faculty, as well as in discussions with AFPC personnel who were responsible for the career progression of officers.¹ We also examined whether USAFA instructor duty affects officer promotion rates.

    As described in Chapter Three, USAFA senior leaders argued that USAFA produces a “second graduating...

  17. CHAPTER NINE Conclusion and Policy Recommendations
    (pp. 87-98)

    Finding the best composition of military and civilian faculty to achieve USAFA’s mission has been an issue since USAFA’s founding. It is also very difficult for USAFA to find military officers with the appropriate advanced academic degrees to meet its needs, creating further challenges in maintaining a qualified faculty. Therefore, the goal of this research was to examine how general shifts in the current composition of military and civilian faculty would affect factors that are important to achieving USAFA’s mission and the broader Air Force. We identified five factors that we considered critical to examine:

    1. cadets’ officership development

    2. cadets’ academic...

  18. APPENDIX A Historical Background
    (pp. 99-112)
  19. APPENDIX B Interview and Focus Group Method and Analysis
    (pp. 113-122)
  20. APPENDIX C Overview of Cadet Survey Sample and Methodology
    (pp. 123-130)
  21. APPENDIX D Additional Information on Relative Teaching Effectiveness Analyses
    (pp. 131-156)
  22. APPENDIX E Comparison with Carrell and West’s Value-Added Approach
    (pp. 157-166)
  23. References
    (pp. 167-170)