The Faculty Promotion And Merit System In China And The United States: The Cases Of Wuhan University And The University Of California, Davis

Research & Occasional Paper Series: CSHE.13.12 UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY THE FACULTY PROMOTION AND MERIT SYSTEM IN CHINA AND THE UNITED STATES: THE CASES OF WUHAN UNIVERSITY AND THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, DAVIS 1 October 2012 Cristina Gonzalez University of California, Davis Yamin Liu Wuhan University Xiaoling Shu University of California, Davis ABSTRACT Copyright 2012 Cristina Gonzalez, Yamin Liu, and Xiaoling Shu, all rights reserved. Any serious inquiry about improving the quality of a university must begin with an examination of its faculty promotion and merit procedures, since a university’s quality cannot be higher than that of its faculty. In this essay, we will examine the tenure track or regular faculty promotion and merit systems at the University of California, Davis, and Wuhan University, with a view towards understanding how they motivate the professoriate and foster creativity. In our analysis, we will pay special attention to compensation, as well as to work-life balance, issues. Our hope is to extract some lessons for these and other institutions of higher learning in the Unites States and China and, perhaps, even in other countries. As more and more universities around the globe aspire to become world-class universities, the issue of faculty rewards is becoming paramount, for there can be no world- class universities without world-class faculties. INTRODUCTION In recent times, many developing countries have shown great interest in improving their higher educations systems, investing in their best institutions in order to transform them into “world class universities” (Douglass, King & Feller; Salmi; Altbach; Wildavsky; Clotfelter; Gutek). China has been particularly proactive in this respect (Ryan; W. Morgan & Wu). A giant economy, growing at a fast pace, China is eager to build up with similar speed what Wanhua Ma calls its flagship universities (p. 32), that is, the best institutions of higher learning, which are basically those participating in the 211 and 985 projects. The 211 Project, established in 1994, seeks greatly to enhance the quality of one hundred leading universities in the 21 st Century (thus, the name 211). The 985 Project, created in May of 1998 (thus, the designation 985), provides additional funds to the top thirty-nine institutions, most particularly, to the top nine of these (Li, pp. 17-18). There is great competition for funds and status, which is why Chinese universities are very interested in quality assessment. It is not a coincidence that the first worldwide ranking of universities was carried out in China, where the relative status of higher education institutions has taken on great importance. The government and the public there share the ambition for a significant number of Chinese universities to become world-class institutions in the near future. According to Nian Cai Liu, in 2003, the Institute of Higher Education at Shanghai Jiao Tong University conducted its Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU)—the first evaluation ever undertaken of all universities around the globe—to determine where Chinese universities stood relative to others and to establish some benchmarks (p. 64). No Chinese university ranked among the top 100. The study concluded that there were a variety of reasons for this, including a lack of funding and a lack of autonomy. The Chinese higher education system, which is the largest in the world, is growing and needs models. After the creation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, it followed that of the Soviet Union, in which scholarship was separated from teaching, the former being conducted in research institutes of various kinds, and teaching was offered by specialized schools We would like to thank Barbara Horwitz, Ellen Switkes, and Yunhua Xiang, who read the first draft of this article and offered insightful comments. We also are grateful to John Douglass and Judson King for their advice and encouragement.