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What Colleges and Universities Want in New Faculty
by Kathrynn A. Adams

To supplement the rich personal and programmatic experience that is found in Preparing Future Faculty programs and to highlight what colleges and universities look for in new faculty, Kathrynn Adams, professor of psychology and interim dean at Guilford College, elected to conduct a review of the research literature. Her findings reinforce the lessons learned by most PFF participants: that institutions expect the faculty they hire to be effective teachers, competent researchers, and active participants in academic life and that graduate schools should prepare their students to conduct a sophisticated job search and to know the many options they have for an academic career.

The Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) program was launched in 1993 by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) to develop new models of doctoral preparation for a faculty career by including preparation for teaching and academic citizenship as well as for research. Through a series of four national competitions, grants have been awarded to forty-three doctoral-producing universities and their departments to develop and implement such model programs that bring expectations of undergraduate professors into the graduate preparation of future academics. One stipulation of grants has been that the universities cannot do this work by themselves; they must form a cluster of diverse institutions so that the graduate students can have direct, personal experience with faculty life as it is lived in institutions with different missions, student bodies, and expectations for faculty. Often the students work with an assigned teaching mentor at another institution.

As one might expect, these arrangements generated new kinds of conversations among graduate faculty, partner faculty, and graduate students. When these groups discuss what is needed in new faculty, the answer is always that they need more than specialized knowledge in their academic disciplines. Knowledge of one's field is necessary but not sufficient. One outcome of these conversations is a much greater appreciation among all participants of the range of colleges and universities and the different expectations they have of their faculty. This kind of awareness allows graduate students to find an appropriate “fit” between their interests and the needs of an institution and expands the range of their options for an academic career. It also allows faculty members who are rooted in a single institution to develop a much more nuanced understanding of how their discipline is practiced in different institutional contexts.

The most general outcome of this arrangement is to align undergraduate education more closely with graduate preparation. Graduate faculty involved in PFF have come to know more about the career destinations of their graduate students and to shape programs, such as PFF, so that their students are more likely to get the jobs they want and to succeed in them.
We publish this essay so that more faculty members, particularly graduate faculty, can understand what is involved in faculty work in different kinds of institutions, especially those other than research universities, where the vast majority of faculty jobs are located.

Jerry G. Gaff
Co-Director, Preparing Future Faculty
Association of American Colleges and Universities


Anne S. Pruitt-Logan
Co-Director, Preparing Future Faculty
Council of Graduate Schools

Other PFF Occasional Papers


About This Publication
What Colleges and Universities Want
in New Faculty
How Do Preparing Future Faculty Programs Prepare Students for Faculty Roles?
1. Teaching
2. Research
3. Academic Life
What Do Graduate Students Say About
the Benefits of PFF programs?
4. Job Search
5. Academic Options
What Do New Faculty Members Say About
the Benefits of PFF Programs?
Works Cited

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