Administrative Issues Journal


Across the institutional spectrum, universities are attempting to reposition themselves as more research dominant institutions, a pattern referred to as “mission creep.” Such changes in university missions have several critical implications for faculty members and their work. In this qualitative study, we interviewed ten tenure-track faculty members to explore how they make sense of and respond to Sun University’s creeping university mission. Through qualitative data analysis, we found that faculty use organizational scripts to construct and make sense of their role, yet they do so towards different ends. Some faculty members own the transition and attempt to contribute to its success, while others negotiate the transition by mobilizing these very same scripts. Finally, a third subgroup resists the transition to research status altogether by using the organizational scripts in different ways. Ultimately, this study shows the importance of organizational scripts as faculty members used them in disparate ways to carry out the personal ambition and hopes that faculty often have for their work.