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Public Health Rep. 1983 Mar-Apr; 98(2): 145–152.
PMCID: PMC1424424
Attitudes of faculty members of schools of public health toward public service.
C L Harper, J Veney, and C Davidson
Public service has long been considered one of a traditional triad of academic functions--teaching, research, and service. Yet even in schools of public health, where service is purported to be an integral component of the institution's mission, faculty generally do not accord as high a value to service performance or approach it with the same degree of commitment as they do research and teaching. A study was conducted to examine faculty perceptions and attitudes toward the service function and its relationship to teaching and research within schools of public health. The data were taken from a mailed questionnaire survey of 20-30 faculty members in each of 20 schools of public health in the United States. The response rate was 71 percent, or 387 returned questionnaires. Respondents generally felt that the greatest value of service lies in its potential for enhancing the image and prestige of the school, and in the fulfillment of the community obligation of the institution. The possibility that service might bring about improvements in faculty research and teaching, or improvements in health services and public health, was rated significantly lower. Thus, respondents did not view service as useful for its contribution to their own careers or to public health practice as much as they regarded it as a beneficial contribution to the reputation of the institution. This view undermines the traditionally held notion that public service either benefits a particular constituency outside the school or enhances the professional development of faculty members themselves.
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