An Unusual Professor?

A friend tells me I am an unusual professor because, although I am research oriented and work at a research institution, I care about undergraduate education. I see his point but I wonder, is it really true?

1. I do not feel that I care about lower division instruction. It does matter to me, and I think it presents interesting problems and that it is very important, but I do not think I care about it. I wonder if he sees something I do not.

2. I know lots of institutions which do not care about undergraduate education, but I know lots of research oriented people with the best degrees, credentials and publications who do care about it.

What is true?

Axé.

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5 Comments

Filed under Questions, What Is A Scholar?

5 responses to “An Unusual Professor?

  1. historiann

    “I know lots of institutions which do not care about undergraduate education, but I know lots of research oriented people with the best degrees, credentials and publications who do care about it.”

    This is my experience. I think many of us care about doing a good job at whatever level of the curriculum we’re teaching, but sadly, we’re not given the time, space, or resources necessary to do all that we really *should* do. However, I draw the line at working within the strange limits set by my institution. I’m not going to kill myself over a 100-level survey course, when the institution isn’t providing me with the resources. It’s not my job to fill that gap–it’s the institution’s responsibility, because institutions have infinitely more time and money than individuals.

  2. “It’s not my job to fill that gap–it’s the institution’s responsibility, because institutions have infinitely more time and money than individuals.”

    Exactly – although we have some trouble convincing our institution of that! ;-)

  3. I don’t know you, but it sounds like you care about doing a good job, period.

    I think people say that people at research universities don’t care about undergraduate education because they want it to be true. Statements like that one justify a lot of the hugely inequitable arrangements in the US university world. (they also seem to be preventing me from getting a job at an SLAC)

  4. lessons

    Not to be paranoid… but it sounds like there was something in the subtext there about what he said. The ‘caring’ thing, especially caring about things you aren’t ‘supposed’ to, is often code for insults / disparagments about being female and/or about your priorities. Even if he didn’t mean it consciously.

  5. I agree with both servetus and lessons. “Caring” about students in general is often presented in academe as the mark of a less than serious “scholar.” But to the extent that I know you, you seem to care about everything to which you put your hand. A good thing, by my lights.

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