Monday, May 11, 2009

Mediocre U.? Huh?

I was reading this opinion piece on the Chronicle of Higher Education on Careers. The author reports back on a forum discussion where people talk about your first job influencing your career. Essentially should you go get a teaching job right after you get your PhD, or should you publish your heart out and try to get to that R1 institution where fame and fortune lies (or so they say).

I quite honestly don't get where this vitriol is coming from. Why is it that teaching faculty get little respect. If you want a 5/5 course load, why shouldn't you be judged on your teaching ability? Why are we hearing all this whining about getting a 3/3 course load and time for research and if you go teach at a community college you're not as good as someone in an R1 (research) institution.

People go to college to learn. They attend college for educational purposes (well that and Frat parties if you are going to one of the party school teeheehee), so why isn't there an expectation that these superstar faculty (or those who wish to attain superstar status) complain about teaching and about applying to Mediocre U.

What makes a University Mediocre is the quality of its faculty. If the faculty try hard and they succeed to educate and change the lives of people who come in through those doors, the university is not mediocre. It kinda seems to me that these guys are ranting because they want to be part of an Old-Boys Network, but they've done doodly squat to prove their teaching ability and their ability to do research.

One quote that I liked was this. It applies to ALL jobs you apply to:
But when you are on the market, you cannot afford to internalize the dialogue of "crap universities" vs. "places where I belong." Because, as others have noted, if you have the (mis)fortune of interviewing at a school like mine (we prefer the term "regional comprehensive," thanks, as opposed to "s***hole"), you won't be able to conceal that attitude as well as you think you will. We will smell it on you. The senior folks in my department are trained at sniffing it out. And then we will not hire you, despite your fancy degrees and publications. I saw it happen this year on a search, which is why I offer this cautionary perspective.

OK, enough of a rant LOL
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