Preparing Future Faculty

Tim Harris, October 2002

To the Editor:

The "Preparing Future Faculty" programs initiated by many universities in the past few years are a great advance in higher education. Yet, if all participants must be doctoral students, then what about those who aspire to be community college faculty? Doctoral degrees are not required at this level. Why are potential community college faculty members more or less banned from participating in such a wonderful program?

A PhD is a research degree. It is not a "teaching" degree. For example, a person pursuing a PhD in history is, in reality, pursuing a degree in historiography rather than the teaching of history. It is for this very reason that many freshly minted PhDs are not prepared to be teachers in an institution of higher education. Granting that most are superb researchers and will contribute much to the field of history, it does not seem reasonable that one must have a PhD in order to be a good teacher of history at the college level. This is particularly true considering the statistics revealing that many recent history PhDs, who obtained their degrees from research universities, end up obtaining employment in traditional liberal arts, or "teaching" institutions.

Thus, I ask the question: Why does one have to be a doctoral student in order to participate in the "Preparing Future Faculty" programs across the nation if you do not have as your goal teaching in a university? If, indeed, community colleges are institutions of higher education, then graduate students at the MA level should be allowed to participate in the PFF program. The overwhelming majority of MA programs in history do not offer internships for their students in order for them to gain teaching experience. These students just have to gain that experience "somehow."

The PFF reinforces this flawed manner of thinking. Community college history faculty matter. Moreover, they should have the same opportunities to participate in the PFF as do doctoral students.

—Tim Harris, Lexington, KY