Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Conference offers advice for future faculty

More than 300 graduate students and postdoctoral scholars found strategies and resources for life beyond graduate school Wednesday at the ninth annual “Preparing Future Faculty Conference."

Hyeonho Hahm, a doctoral student in political science, said he enjoyed “actually hearing about practical issues that faculty face,” adding, “The commitment of CRLT (the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching) and Rackham to these topics is something I appreciate.”

  From left, Chiron Graves, assistant professor of biology at Eastern Michigan University, and (Ilana Blumberg, associate professor of English at Michigan State University's James Madison College, participate in the plenary session for the "Preparing Future Faculty Conference." (Photo by Pamela Fisher, Center for Research on Learning and Teaching)

Click here for online conference materials, including videos of selected presentations.

The intensive half-day gathering was designed to help those entering the job market successfully transition to faculty life at different types of institutions.

New this year was a session that explored what it’s like to be an academic administrator, without leaving behind a faculty career. Another new session on dual-career issues and faculty work-life balance featured two faculty couples who have negotiated two-career job searches while raising families.

A diverse group of more than 30 presenters hailed from U-M and other institutions, including Eastern Michigan University, Michigan State University, Oberlin College, University of Toledo and Albion College.

Over the course of 13 sessions, panelists with various institutional and disciplinary perspectives addressed such topics as adjusting to a new institutional context, starting and running a research lab, the tenure track process, and faculty work life.

Plenary panelist Chiron Graves, now an assistant professor of biology at Eastern Michigan University, remembers attending the conference as a graduate student. He stressed the value of the information about differences in academic communities, saying, “70 percent of Eastern Michigan’s students work 30 hours or more, which is quite different from U-M.”

Other sessions provided concrete advice for successfully managing the academic job search, including developing a teaching philosophy, interviewing for academe, tips for negotiating a job offer, and strategies for navigating a challenging job market.

A doctoral candidate in the School of Natural Resources and Environment, Dana Jackman liked how the presenter modeled use of i-clickers in a session about developing one’s teaching philosophy.

“Not only did I learn how to write an excellent teaching philosophy,” said Jackman, but “I saw an excellent example of how to use instructional technology in the classroom. Who knows, maybe i-clickers will show up in my teaching philosophy.”

The conference was sponsored by CRLT, the Rackham Graduate School, and the Career Center.