grant crunch and grad. students

David Fleck fleck at stripe.Colorado.EDU
Sun Sep 8 17:52:33 EST 1996

In article <Pine.A32.3.92a.960907125111.120390A-100000 at>,
Sarah Boomer  <sarai at> wrote:
>My partner has several brothers who went through U WI/Madison and had to
>teach virtually their whole careers to make ends meet, often because of
>funding problems.  To our "spoiled" eyes, this seemed outrageous.  

Gee, I thought that's how EVERYBODY made it through grad school.

>Most of
>John's brothers took 8-9 years to finish, having to teach so often.  Our
>average is about 6 years.
>So - are we here at the UW unique/have we been unique among grad.
>programs.  Is this phenomenon something a lot of other programs have
>already gone through or is it something that is evolving rapidly right
>now.  Any thoughts about the ramifications?

I got my PhD at Colorado, in the Dep't of Environmental, Population &
Organismic Biology (aka "EPOB" for obvious reasons) and TA'ing you way
throughout grad. school was largely a given.  That is, at least half the
grad students TA'ed _every_ semester during their careers.  TA'in for 1
year was required, but I knew only one student during my 6 years who only
TA'ed for that brief a period.  In the more physiologically-oriented labs
(= those with lagrer grants) most students got a couple of years of
support off of their advisors's grant; in the more ecologically-oriented
labs, such support was very, very rare.  Teaching was part of the culture;
not doing it, and not taking it seriously, was not appreciatedc by the
higher-ups of the Graduate Committee.  (One notorious year, TA's who got
less than a 3.0 on their student evaluations had to write a letter to the
GC explaining how they were going to improve.)
There was no definite time limit on a PhD, but most seemed to take 5-7
years. One person made it through in 4, but she was the student mentioned
above (who only taught for 1 year).

>As a grad. student who "wants" to teach small college level, I am
>personally envious of all the training that John has gotten - where I
>can't even get a teaching position because my resume is poorly supported
>on teaching (despite *a lot* of guest lectureships).  There have been
>interesting ideas about doing "teaching" track PhDs vs research track to
>solve this evolving dichotomy in PhD job market placement (to meet the
>community college and small college market).  Anyone out there got any
>ideas, thoughts, or experience with this kind of alternate training?

The emphasis on teaching has definitely helped EPOB students get jobs at
smaller schools.  I would estimate that in my own case, my teaching
experience as a TA and as an instructor were about 90 -95% responsible for
my getting an offer for a tenure-track position (albeit at a small,
financially-challenged, very remote school, which doesn't even have a news
server so I have to telnet back to Colorado to read Usenet groups).  Here,
research is still expected; but the main emphasis is on teaching, and
profs. typically carry 12 hours a semester.  Most people seem to try for a
70-30 split between teaching and research. 

	David Fleck (who, despite the address above, is really posting
from the mighty bastion of knowledge called the University of Guam)

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