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From the Letters to the Editor column of the October 2003 Perspectives

The PPF Program at FSU

Christopher Versen, November 2003

To the Editor:

In the September 2003 issue of Perspectives David Allen Harvey presents an informative and, for my part, a welcome discussion of the reality of the academic job market. In opening his article he mentions the Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) session at the AHA annual meeting. As a graduate student representative of Florida State University's PFF program (developed by Jonathan Grant and Robinson Herrera) in that session, I thank Harvey for mentioning it.

The FSU program organizes excellent in-house professional workshops guided by faculty members, many of whom have just come out of the job market. Among the most beneficial of these workshops are ones on polishing c.v.'s, building a publication history, the job application and interview process, course development, classroom management, the use of research, writing, and teaching technologies, and on standards of professional ethics and conduct. Program-organized trips to associated schools that range across the academic spectrum expose us to a variety of programs and environments and thus to the job market we soon will be entering. Our work with mentors from these associated schools gives us a view of and experience in academic life outside a research university. Moreover, the PFF program is heartily supported by our own department's faculty and administration, which has led to increasing graduate student participation in faculty searches and on department committees for curriculum development, department policies, and student appeals. The program introduces students to the wide-ranging responsibilities of faculty members and demonstrates the importance of collegiality and high ethical as well as academic standards. In addition to building a more open and interactive department, such exposure and experience is invaluable to our professional development, and it is an essential complement to the academic development at which too many history programs stop. But from the perspective of a student who is soon to be in search of a faculty position, the most important indicator of success is the 100 percent placement of newly minted PhDs who participated in the PFF program in tenure-track positions. I cannot say enough about this program at FSU, and if anyone is interested in knowing more, please contact me at crversen@comcast.net.

—Christopher R. Versen, Florida State University