Involving students in research activities?
Integrating research activities into classroom activities?
Writing proposals for funding?
The Service Roles of Faculty
Review, promotion, and tenure processes?
Roles and responsibilities for institutional governance?
Effective mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students and junior faculty?
Reviewing academic programs for integrity, cohesion, and significance?
Serving on committees, with faculty peers from other fields, in service to institutional goals?
In reviewing this list, some might have recalled conversations among fellow graduate students, maybe even with a faculty adviser. In some cases you may recall advice that too many graduate students today can repeat verbatim, “Don’t waste your time with those things.” I suspect many of you had no formal preparation for most of the tasks you would be asked to do in your first year as a faculty member.
Why should doctoral students, the future faculty, learn these activities? Should graduate programs be expected to teach them? We think so. That is the position of the Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) program, sponsored by the Council of Graduate Schools and the Association of American Colleges and Universities with financial support from the Pew Charitable Trusts and the National Science Foundation.
We clearly are saying, “Yes, it should be a part of the way future faculty are prepared for the full range of faculty roles and responsibilities.” This assertion is based on several assumptions:
The Ph.D. is, and should remain, a research degree.
Not all doctoral students aspire to faculty careers.
Not all doctoral programs aspire to prepare students for faculty careers.
Too many doctoral programs are failing to provide students educational experiences that make them “job ready,” whether for industrial or academic work, upon graduation.
PFF programs are not to be confused with teaching assistant (TA) development programs. TA development programs have made great improvements in the quality of basic preparation available to graduate students with teaching assistantships. PFF programs often build upon this foundation, giving graduate students a more complete awareness of the work faculty members do in each of their roles—teaching, research, and service.
A recent issue of Chemical & Engineering News (November 15, 1999) features a special report on the employment outlook for 2000. The articles make it clear that graduates will find employment, but that skills and interests beyond the research paradigm are being sought by a variety of employers. When department chairs at major research universities assert1 that candidates “should be both qualified and interested in becoming educators,” have “a creative interest in undergraduate education,” and “definitely interested in interdisciplinary areas,” we must acknowledge that something beyond the traditional research experience is desired in a “job ready” candidate.