What advice can you give new professors and those who want to become university professors?
FRANK E. CUMMINGS III: “There are many more areas you have to be accomplished in besides your subject matter. You have to be aware of what I call the big picture. Even though you work in a department, that department is part of the college. That college is part of the university and the university is part of the community as a whole. You are linked to that. It’s not just reciting the things that you learned in graduate school. You have to understand how all of that’s connected. Committee work is extremely important, I found. Learning more about how your particular area is connected to the whole university is an invaluable experience.”
ZVI DREZNER: “You must have patience. You will very frequently have the feeling that ‘the students are idiots.’ Never show that feeling in front of students. Remember that when you studied any material for the first time, you did not get it all immediately. Conveying (even implicitly) a feeling that you are superior to the students may turn them off and they may become disinterested.”
JANE V. HALL: “Consider why you want to do this. If you do not have a passion for your discipline that is so strong that you want to share your knowledge with your students, this is not the career for you. You are embarking on a job that actually pays you to continue learning and to create new knowledge. However, it also imposes an obligation to be active and to work with large numbers of not always well-prepared students. It is your job to do your best for them anyway.”
STEVEN N. MURRAY: “Have a clear and organized plan. Communicate clearly. Explain what students will be expected to know, how they’ll be graded and what their responsibilities are. Make sure your students understand your expectations for their performance and make them high. Give them examples. Remember that you are the expert in your field and they are there to learn from you. Finally, have fun! You may be a major influence in somebody’s life. You have the capability to change their lives. You ought to enjoy that.”
NANCY L. SEGAL:“Bring your natural enthusiasm for your topic to the classroom because it will always serve you well.”
RAPHAEL J. SONENSHEIN:“Ask your colleagues lots of questions. Graduate school does not teach you to teach. You have to learn it yourself, and in dialogue with other teachers. Then, find your own style; it will be unique. Mainly, your colleagues can help you avoid mistakes, but don’t imitate them. Be yourself. Don’t force humor; just be open to it. If you’re not a comedian, let your students be funny instead.”
HALLIE YOPP SLOWIK: “Seek opportunities to work with colleagues across campus. Become a part of the larger university community. Stay involved in your profession by conducting research and participating in conferences. Working at a university is an exhilarating experience. The opportunities for intellectual stimulation and professional development are limitless; indeed, at times they are overwhelming. There are many challenges, but if you truly care about your field and its future, if you see yourself as one who will always have more to learn and if you are sincere in your respect for and interest in students, you have selected the right profession. Enjoy it.”