It’s no secret that I believe in the power of an excellent faculty at a university or college.  At Gustavus, the faculty made the school and community.  I met them in the local co-op, saw them at midnight showings of new movies, and had dinner at their homes.  The faculty were a large part in my life at college and created an encouraging learning environment.  I quickly conquered my fear of calling my superiors by their first names, and appreciated being able to know them on both academic and personal levels.  While I realize St. Peter is much different from, say, Seattle with its small college, small community, and Midwestern mentality, I believe that some of this comfort with faculty can be achieved by hiring good teachers.

Rarely are good teachers closed-off or secluded people.  While at the U of Washington, my best experiences have been with faculty who add personal experiences to lecture (personal travel photos, comments about a new sunburn, new films they’ve seen, etc.) and who are open to emails and office visits from students.  That being said, it seems like half of the professors I’ve loved are actually not technically employed by the school!  My Chaucer professor retired after this past spring term, and they are not adding another tenure track position.  And a permanent position for a medievalist in English or history?  Forget it.

I cannot understand the resistance of schools to hire quality faculty.  They are the life and breath of the institution!  Why would anyone fight adding an excellent and well-liked teacher to their university?  In my recent experience at a large university (and in friends’ experiences in graduate school), some tenured professors are employed because they bring a certain prestige to the institution.  They seem to not care about the quality of their classes or student interest, and in fact, some shirk their duties to their advisees.  Is prestige really worth the unsatisfactory student experience?  These students will become faculty and probable funders of the university.

With my rant over, I’d like to make a general plea to universities everywhere.  Good educators come in every field and are every age.  The end-of-term reviews should indicate to you how amazing or underwhelming professors are, and there is little point in constantly shuffling your faculty members because you have not kept tenured positions.  Please take a hard look at your popular classes and professors and fill those nonexistent and temporary positions with qualified and passionate teachers.  We, the students, appreciate it, as do those who donate.  Please help to nurture your university by giving quality education by qualified and interested professors.

Professors shouldn’t just teach or help students to get needed credits.  They can inspire true passion and interest and be life-changing.

Men exist for the sake of one another. Teach them then or bear with them.  –Marcus Aurelius

The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.  –Aristotle

Good faculty make living much easier and can turn that bitter root much sweeter.

Advertisements