Tomorrow's Professor: Preparing for Careers in Science and Engineering / Edition 1

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Tomorrow's Professor is designed to help you prepare for, find, and succeed at academic careers in science and engineering. It looks at the full range of North American four-year academic institutions while featuring 30 vignettes and more than 50 individual stories that bring to life the principles and strategies outlined in the book.

Tailored for today's graduate students, postdocs, and beginning professors, Tomorrow's Professor:

  • Presents a no-holds-barred look at the academic enterprise
  • Describes a powerful preparation strategy to make you competitive for academic positions while maintaining your options for worthwhile careers in government and industry
  • Explains how to get the offer you want and start-up package you need to help ensure success in your first critical years on the job
  • Provides essential insights from experienced faculty on how to develop a rewarding academic career and a quality of life that is both balanced and fulfilling
  • Bonus material is available for free download at
At a time when anxiety about academic career opportunities for Ph.D.s in these field is at an all-time high, Tomorrow's Professor provides a much-needed practical approach to career development.

" to prepare for, find & succeed at an academic carreer in science & engineering...this book looks at the full range of N.Amer. 4 year institutions & features 30 vignettes depicting the books strategies & principles."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780780311367
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 4/15/1997
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 436
  • Sales rank: 1,035,586
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.96 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard M. Reis is the Executive Director of the Stanford Integrated Manufacturing Association and the Associate Director for Global Learning Partnerships in the Stanford University Learning Laboratory. Dr. Reis is also a consulting professor in both the Stanford University Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering Departments. Among his many responsibilities is the teaching of a year-round seminar on preparing graduate students for academic careers in science, engineering, and business.

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Read an Excerpt

Tomorrow's Professor

Preparing for Careers in Science and Engineering
By Richard M. Reis

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-7803-1136-1

Chapter One

The Academic Enterprise

George P. Shultz, former U.S. secretary of state, of labor, and of treasury, was also a senior officer in the Bechtel Corporation, and former dean of the Business School at the University of Chicago. He is currently on the faculty at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Shultz was asked recently to compare the three types of organizations in which he had spent so much time; industry, government and academia. He replied, "When I worked in industry I had to be careful if I asked someone to do something because there was a very good chance they would do it. When I worked in government I didn't have that problem. But at the university I very quickly came to understand that it was ... inappropriate to ask".

Tongue-in-cheek as his comment may be, Shultz is hinting at something important about how colleges and universities differ from industry, government, labor unions, churches, hospitals, and virtually every other institution in society.

Clark Kerr, president emeritus of the University of California, supports Shultz's point in a more formal way by noting that:

[American colleges and universities] have mostly been comparatively privileged entities of tolerant societies exercising great self-restraint toward them. And their principal participants-the faculties-have had more leeway to conduct their lives according to their individual wishes than most other members of the modern labor force-they have not viewed themselves, or been viewed by others, as "employees." It has been a world of comparative institutional autonomy and comparative individual academic freedom.

As a possible future professor, it is important for you to understand the unique features of an institution in which you may spend the rest of your professional life. We begin the development of such an understanding in this chapter, first with a brief look at the evolution of higher education in North America. This historical discussion is followed by an examination of the key characteristics of academia, including governance and decision making. Some of the critical issues currently facing all colleges and universities are examined next. A new concept of scholarship originally proposed by Ernest Boyer, former president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, is then introduced. This scholarship concept forms the basis for important discussions in the chapters to follow. We then introduce seven sample schools representing the types of four-year institutions to which most science and engineering Ph.D.s and postdocs will go as new professors. The chapter concludes with a vignette describing Ernest Boyer's views on the role of scholarship in undergraduate education.


With all the downsizing and restructuring taking place in higher education, you might think colleges and universities are looking more, not less, like other institutions. Hahnemann University in Philadelphia, PA is a case in point. The Hahnemann administration recently threatened to fire any faculty member, tenured or not, who is not able to attract research grants providing between 50 and 100% of his or her salary. As Leonard L. Roos, dean of the Hahnemann School of Medicine, put it, "If IBM expects that of its employees, why can't we expect it of the academic community? It's a big business".

Another industry-like characteristic, increasing demands for accountability and productivity, has resulted in mandated minimum college and university teaching loads in some states. Hawaii and Florida, for example, now require 12 hours of classroom instruction per week or the equivalent for faculty in four-year institutions.

On the other hand, industry has reduced its number of management levels, put more decision making in the hands of those who actually do the "value-added" work, sought consensus across functions, and so on. Could it be that private enterprise is taking on some of the characteristics long associated with colleges and universities? Perhaps, but fundamental differences remain in the culture, governance, mission, methods of generating income, employment security, and accountability between academia and other organizations with which we are familiar.

Historical Perspective

Before looking more closely at these differences, let us consider a little history. Higher education in the United States and Canada began during the 17th century as an outgrowth of both the medieval European universities and the British universities of Oxford and Cambridge. In these so-called colonial colleges, teaching was central. It was viewed, "... as a vocation-a sacred calling-an act of dedication honored as fully as the ministry" [5, Ch.1, p.4]. It was during this time that the self-governing nature of universities developed, as well as the idea that universities were "communities of scholars" [6, p.3]. It was also during this period that the notion of "Town and Gown" developed as a way of "separating" scholars from the local lay population [6, pp.22-23].

The number of institutions and students remained small until the passage in the United States in 1862 of the Morrill Act establishing land grant colleges and universities. Through this act, every state was granted 30,000 acres of land for each senator and representative it had in Congress. The land was then to be sold and the proceeds invested to create and maintain institutions that were to emphasize agriculture and mining (A&M) as a way to produce better educated farmers and engineers. The universities of Arizona, California, Illinois, Texas, and Washington are just a few such institutions formed during this period. The late 19th century was a time when colleges were to provide "useful studies," and when "going to college" was viewed as a way of "getting ahead." As one undergraduate put it in 1871, "A degree from Harvard is worth money in Chicago" [6, p.29]. By the end of the century, 59 separate land grant colleges had been established in 44 states under the Morrill Act. Many of you have attended, are now attending, or will eventually teach at such institutions.

A second significant advance occurred in the 1890s with the establishment of research-oriented private universities such as Johns Hopkins, Chicago, Cornell, and Stanford. A further growth period occurred after World War I with the passage of additional legislation and the involvement of state universities in large-scale applied research.

However, the Golden Age of higher education was clearly the one during the three decades following World War II. The 1950s and 1960s was a period of unprecedented expansion, both in the size of existing institutions and the number of new institutions. In the United States, it was a result of federally funded research, an outgrowth of experiences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory (radar) and the University of Chicago (atomic bomb) during the war. Expansion was also due to the GI Bill and subsequent equal opportunity funding initiatives, and the requirements of a labor force trained in emerging engineering fields, particularly electronics and computers [2, p.22].

Historian John Thelin put it this way:

By 1965 one could speak of an "academic revolution" in which American society had come to rely on and accept the expertise of colleges and universities, indicative of an "information society" whose foundation was a "knowledge industry." Student enrollments had grown, both in actual numbers and as a proportion of total population, such that higher education had been transformed from an elite to mass access.

During the period right after World War II to the early 1970s, the number of college and university professors and students approximately tripled. The number of institutions also grew, as did the number of graduate programs [10, p.229]. The most rapid growth in faculty occurred in the 1960s.

Most of these faculty will soon retire, a fact clearly relevant to those of you considering academic careers. You should be aware, however, that anticipated increase in demand expected from such retirements will be at least partly offset by advances in teaching productivity through instructional television and computers, the increasing use of part-time faculty, particularly at the community college level, and the downsizing or even elimination of some departments. We will discuss the supply and demand topic in greater detail in Chapter 4, "Your Professional Preparation Strategy."


There are currently about 3600 (1600 public, 2000 private) accredited institutions of higher education in the United States, up from approximately 3400 in 1987, the last time a survey of such institutions was conducted by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching [11, p.A17]. These institutions enroll approximately 14.5 million students and award slightly over two million degrees, a quarter of which are in science and engineering [12, pp.2/6-2/10]. While there is considerable variation among fields, Ernest L. Boyer, the Foundation's late president, points out that overall: "There is now more higher education than ever in history ... and predictions of decline are simply not supported by the facts".

A similar growth pattern exists in Canada. Current full and part-time enrollment in higher education exceeds 870,000, up from 630,000 in 1980-1981 [13, p.29]. Canada currently has 80 institutions offering bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees [13, pp.64-67].

The Carnegie Classification

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching groups accredited U.S. institutions into 11 categories based largely on their mission. The categories are: Research universities I&II (Res. I&II), Doctoral universities I&II (Doc. I&II), Master's (comprehensive) universities and colleges I&II (MA I&II), Baccalaureate (liberal arts) colleges I&II (B A I&II), Associate of Arts colleges (AA), Professional schools (Prof.), and specialized institutions (Spec). (Note: A new term, Metropolitan University, not formally part of the Carnegie classification, has recently come into use among a number of Master's institutions located in urban areas.) Table 1-1 describes the basis for these categories. Institutions are classified according to the highest level of degree they award, the number of degrees conferred by discipline, and, in some cases, the amount of federal research support they receive, and the selectivity of their admissions. Table 1.2 lists the number of schools by Carnegie classification. Figure 1-1 shows the proportion of institutions by category. Figure 1-2 summarizes the above information, and also includes data on the enrollment of students and degrees granted. (Note: The small differences in institutional totals between Table 1.2 and Figure 1-2 are due to differences in reference dates.)

Canada does not use the Carnegie classification, although it is not that difficult to "assign" Canadian schools to the Carnegie categories. We will refer to the Carnegie classification often throughout this book. It provides a convenient way to examine the characteristics of colleges and universities of interest to you as a future science or engineering professor. While science and engineering teaching takes place at almost all types of colleges and universities in the classification, we will concentrate on those 1500 U.S. and Canadian schools offering four or more years of higher education, i.e., Res. I&II, Doc. I&II, MA I&II, and B A I&II. Virtually all of these schools require a doctorate degree of their newly hired faculty.

Where New Faculty Come From-Where New Faculty Go

The Appendix lists all 236 U.S. doctorate-granting institutions. These schools award approximately 41,000 doctorates per year, with the top 35 schools awarding 16,874, or 41.5% of the total. It is from these schools that essentially all U.S.-educated science and engineering faculty will come, but it is certainly not where all of them will go. Of all the faculty at four-year institutions, approximately 55% are at Research and Doctoral schools and 45% are at Master's and Baccalaureate schools.

An interesting example of where faculty come from and where they go can be found in my own academic neighborhood. Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) are both Research I institutions. San Jose State University is a Master's I institution. All are within 50 miles of each other. Stanford has 221 full-time engineering faculty of which 109, or 49%, received their Ph.D.s from either Stanford or UCB. Yet, at San Jose State University with a total of 97 engineering faculty, 36, or 37%, are also from Stanford or UCB.

Of course, some of you now attending Research universities as graduate students and postdocs attended other types of schools as undergraduates. You have been exposed to Master's and Baccalaureate schools, but probably at a time when you were not yet considering an academic career. The key point in all of the above is this:

Graduate students and postdocs preparing for academic careers must consider not only the 250 or so schools from which new faculty come, and to which, of course, a number return, but the other 1250 or so schools to which almost half will go as new professors.

Teaching and Research Emphasis

The relative importance of teaching and research varies by type of institution. As will be discussed later, there is increasing talk about putting more emphasis on all forms of scholarship, including teaching at research universities. However, most of this talk comes from university presidents and deans, not from faculty. As Boyer points out, "Almost all colleges pay lip service to the trilogy of teaching, research, and service but when it comes to making judgments about professional performance, the three are rarely assigned equal merit" [5, Ch.2, p. 15]. Whether or not the institutional incentives and faculty reward systems can be restructured to bring about this change is a matter of much debate. We will look more closely at such efforts at various points throughout this book.

While some Research universities, in at least some departments, do an excellent job of teaching undergraduates, generally speaking, more emphasis on teaching occurs in Master's and Baccalaureate schools. Evidence for this difference can be seen in how faculty from each type of school responded to questions about the importance of teaching and research in the awarding of tenure at their institution.

Table 1.3 shows the percentage of faculty who replied "very important" in responding to a series of questions on this subject. These results indicate that research publications and grants are perceived as much more important in tenure decisions at Research and Doctorate-granting institutions, with the reverse being true with respect to teaching at Master's and Baccalaureate (liberal arts) schools.

There is a tendency among some academics to view the Carnegie Classification as a hierarchy topped by selective liberal arts colleges and major research universities. Boyer discounts this view, pointing out that the classification is not an attempt to build a pyramid in terms of quality. "It doesn't talk about quality, or hierarchy in terms of good or bad," he states. "It is not a measure of creativity or innovation. It talks about the level of complexity of program. It doesn't do more, and it shouldn't do more. It's a beginning point, not an end point" [11, p.A17].

Boyer's comments not withstanding, faculty at a number of schools are feeling the pressure to help their institution "move up" in the Carnegie categories. From 1987 to 1994, there was a total of 433 category changes. Sixteen Research II institutions shifted, all to the Research I category. Eighteen Doctoral institutions shifted, one to Research I, 16 to Research II, and one "down" to Doctoral II. The shifts among MA I&II and B A I&II are not as easy to interpret since what is "up" and "down" is less clear in these categories [11, p.A20].

During the last seven years, the University of Alabama at Birmingham moved "up" three steps from the Doctoral II category to the Research I category. Commented Kenneth J. Rooren, executive vice president at Birmingham, "We've been striving to get to the top ... We didn't develop a strategy to become a Research I institution, but we did develop a strategy to gain excellence and breadth" [11, p.A17].

Recently, the University of California, Irvine, announced plans to "vault" into the ranks of the top 30 research universities by expanding its presence in biomedicine, the neurosciences, and related fields.


Excerpted from Tomorrow's Professor by Richard M. Reis Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Preface xiii

Acknowledgments xv

Introduction xvii

PART I Setting the Stage 1

Chapter 1 The Academic Enterprise 3

Unlike Any Other Institution 4

Key Characteristics 6

Governance and Decision Making 13

Institutional Issues 18

A New Look at Scholarship 20

Seven Sample Schools 22

Vignette #1: A Place for Scholarship in Undergraduate Education 27

Chapter 2 Science and Engineering in Higher Education 37

Comparisons Across the Institution 38

Departments of Science 47

Departments of Engineering 48

Interdisciplinary Collaboration 51

Scholarship Across the Disciplines 53

Vignette #2: Science at a Metropolitan University 54

Chapter 3 New Challenges for the Professoriate 59

Forces for Change in Teaching and Research 60

Implications for Faculty Scholarship 71

Vignette #3: The Laboratory Without Walls 76

PART II Preparing for an Academic Career 81

Chapter 4 Your Professional Preparation Strategy 83

The Decision to Pursue an Academic Career 85

Supply and Demand—What is Going on Here? 90

The Three-Pronged Preparation Strategy 95

Vignette #4: A Ph.D. Career in Industry 102

Chapter 5 Research as a Graduate Student and Postdoc 107

Choosing a Graduate School or Postdoc Institution 108

Choosing a Research Topic 111

Choosing a Dissertation Advisor/Postdoc Supervisor 118

Writing Your Own Research Proposals 123

Carrying Out Your Research—An Example 125

Publishing 126

Attending Conferences and Other Professional Meetings 129

Presentations 131

Supervising Other Researchers 133

Managing Research Projects and Programs 1 35

Networking 137

Vignette #5: The Research Continuum 137

Chapter 6 Teaching Experiences Prior to Becoming a Professor 143

Why Teach as a Graduate Student or Postdoc? 144

Types of Teaching Experiences 148

How to Find the Right Teaching Opportunities 155

Preparing for a Successful Experience 156

Your Teaching Portfolio 157

Vignette #6: Teaching as a Postdoc 160

PART III Finding and Getting the Best Possible Academic Position 165

Chapter 7 Identifying the Possibilities 167

Explore Now, Search Later 168

Deciding What You Want 170

Researching What Is Out There 173

Preparing for the Search 176

Vignette #7: From Industry to Academia 177

Chapter 8 Applying for Positions 183

Setting the Stage 185

Preparing Your Application Materials 192

The Application Process 206

Positions Outside Academia 214

Vignette #8: Diversity Issues in the Hiring of Science and Engineering Faculty—An Illustration from Astronomy 216

Chapter 9 Getting the Results You Want 221

Your Negotiating Approach 222

General Principles for Responding to Academic Job Offers 224

Dual-Career Couples 232

What to Do if You Do Not Get the Offer You Want 233

Vignette #9: The Dual-Career Job Search 237

PART IV Looking Ahead to Your First Years on the Job - Advice from the Field 241

Changing Gears 243

Chapter 10 Insights on Time Management 245

Setting the Stage 245

Vignette #10: Establish Your Absence 246

Vignette #11: Set Long-Term Goals 248

Vignette #12: Keep Something on the Burner 250

Vignette #13: How to Help New Faculty Find the Time—One Department Chair's Approach 252

In Addition: Sources of Faculty Stress, Faculty Efficiency, the Urgency Addiction, and Achieving Balance in Our Lives 253

Chapter 11 Insights on Teaching and Learning 261

Setting the Stage 261

Vignette #14: Five Elements of Effective Teaching 266

Vignette #15: Developing Engaged and Responsive Learners 268

Vignette #16: Team Teaching in an Interdisciplinary Program 271

Vignette #17: The Upside-Down Curriculum 272

In Addition: Characteristics of Successful Teachers, Course Planning, Teaching, and Learning with Technology, and Developing a Teaching Portfolio 275

Chapter 12 Insights on Research 289

Setting the Stage 289

Vignette #18: Keeping Your Research Alive 294

Vignette #19: A High-Leverage Approach to Industry-University Collaboration 296

Vignette #20: Multidisciplinary Research and the Untenured Professor 298

Vignette #21: Cross-University Collaborations 300

In Addition: Writing Research Papers 302

Chapter 13 Insights on Professional Responsibility 309

Setting the Stage 309

Vignette #22: Service to Your Department and Your Profession 313

Vignette #23: Consulting and Other Industry Relationships 315

Vignette #24: Teaching and Learning Standards 318

Vignette #25: Professional Responsibility and Academic Duty 320

In Addition: Appropriating the Ideas of Others, Conflict of Interest, and Freedom of Information? 322

Chapter 14 Insights on Tenure 327

Setting the Stage 327

Vignette #26: Leveraging Wherever Possible 333

Vignette #27: Understanding the Priorities 335

Vignette #28: A Second Chance at Tenure 337

Vignette #29: Taking Another Direction 340

Vignette #30: Lessons Learned 342

In Addition: The Ten Commandments of Tenure Success, Tenure as a Political Process, and Getting Help Along the Way 344

Chapter 15 Insights on Academia: Needed Changes 351

Helping Graduate Students and Postdocs Prepare for Academic Careers 351

Helping Graduate Students and Postdocs Find Academic Positions 354

Helping Beginning Faculty Succeed 353

PART V Appendixes 363

Appendix A Possible Items for Inclusion in a Teaching Portfolio 363

Appendix B Statement of Personal Philosophy Regarding Teaching and Learning 367

Appendix C Professional Associations for Academic Job Seekers in Science and Engineering 369

Appendix D Questions to Ask Before Accepting a Faculty Position 373

Appendix E Sample Offer Letters 381

Appendix F Elements Found in Most Successful Proposals 387

Appendix G Common Shortcomings of Grant Proposals 391

Index 393

About the Author 415

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