Recruiting and retaining new generations of community college faculty



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Much generational research has been conducted in the last decade, prompted most likely by the drastic social and technological changes of the late 20th century, the increase in enrollments in higher education, the increase in families with two working parents, and the meteoric rise in the widespread use and acceptance of emerging technologies. These changes, experts have argued, have led to greater than usual differences between and among the generations. These differences have been the subject of much research on the behaviors and interactions of the generations (Veterans, Baby Boomers, Generation Xers and Millennials) socially and in the workplace. Current generational research has shown that major differences exist between the workplace values and motivations of younger workers (Generation X and Millennial) and older workers (Veterans and Baby Boomers). Indeed, private sector employers have determined that applying the same recruitment methods and workplace practices that have been used commonly for the last 50 years does little to attract and, perhaps more importantly, retain younger workers. Therefore, these types of employers have begun to rethink their long-held practices. This study focused on a group which had not been studied closely for generational differences: community college faculty. The problem addressed was the question of whether or not the generational characteristics exhibited in private sector employees would also be apparent in higher education. That is, do future faculty have noticeably different workplace values than their older colleagues and are such differences likely to influence the recruitment and retention of future faculty? This question is especially important in light of increased demand for faculty, especially at community colleges, due to anticipated retirements of older faculty and increased student enrollments. This study ascertained, through focus groups, interviews, and surveys, whether or not such differences existed in the population studied and offered suggestions to address any differences. The research results indicated that statistically significant differences do exist in the importance of various areas related to reasons for choosing to teach in higher education, reasons for accepting a particular position, and reasons to consider leaving a position. Specifically, Institutional location, Institutional climate, Personality of colleagues, Family environment, Tenure, Opportunity to do research, and Ethnic diversity were all significantly more important to future faculty than to current faculty.