By Ian T. Durham, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Physics at Saint Anselm College
I've been a full-time professor for 11 years now (four years as a department chair and program director). I teach at a liberal arts college and so in addition to teaching, I am expected to publish, present at conferences, and bring in grant money (though not to the extent that people at research universities are expected to). In addition, I am expected to serve on committees and support the school in a variety of endeavors (e.g. giving a presentation to accepted high school seniors who come to visit the college). None of this bothers me all that much. I am of the belief, incidentally, that teaching and research should feed each other. Teaching helps you hone your knowledge in a given area and research helps keep your teaching fresh.
Here's what bothers me (and note that I am not one of these people that wants to see a return to the 1950s -- I do think there is room for reform on the part of the faculty):
- The increasing marginalization of the faculty by bloated (and yet still growing!) administrations. Incidentally, this is why college costs so much. My college, which is average (but could be better), is populated by what Ben Ginsberg at Johns Hopkins has called "deanlets" (these are people who have "Dean" attached to their names for sometimes mysterious reasons). In addition, there has been a huge increase in the amount of paperwork we have to do, largely in the name of "accountability." But the accountability seems to be aimed only at the faculty. Meanwhile, inept administrators can seemingly do whatever they like without any consequences. In addition, people with nary a clue as to how a classroom can be effectively run are telling us we're doing it all wrong.
- How does one become a professor at universities such as Harvard, Stanford, Caltech, and MIT? Can someone indulge us with a narrative? What is the selection process?
- Do professors ever benefit from the senior research theses of undergrads?
- When should I transition from calling professors Dr. X to calling them by their first names?