Another Question for Marite

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: Another Question for Marite
By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 08:53 am: Edit

Marite, some time back, there was a thread about the pecking order of various kinds of profs, tenure, salaries and the such. You had a very interesting post to contribute, so I thought I would ask you. My son has a visiting prof for chemistry. I haven't talked to him about his profs yet. He's only been in class for a week, and I wanted him to get a better feel for them before I ask him to rate them. So, what exactly is a visiting prof, are they generally PhD's, PhD candidates, or other? And under what circumstances does a prof become a visiting prof? I looked at the chem dept. web page and found a name listed, but no bio. Thanks!

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 09:20 am: Edit

there are way more profs than there are positions. At the community college level there are profs with Phds and they consider themselves lucky to have a job in their field.( heck at my daughters high school there is an alum with a grad degree from an ivy and he is happy to be there)
At the university and LAC level they may have visiting profs who are on leave from another college and are simply gaining experience by teaching in another region, a prof who may be very good but budget considerations keep the college from hiring permanently hence the "visiting" afflilation.
My daughters advisor has several ph.ds I beleive and is on the tenure track but for undisclosed reasons is moving on and will probably be "visiting" at anoother college soon. She is really disappointed he is a great prof and has been a good support to her, he will add to any campus

By Marite (Marite) on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 09:32 am: Edit

Pecking order (not sure it applies in every case):

I. Tenure track:
1.instructor (often someone who has not yet completed Ph.D. by the time s/he starts teaching); will move up once Ph.D. is in hand.
2. assistant professor. Contract may be for 3 or 5 years, may be renewable. (Many math assistant profs at top schools fall into the non-renewable 3 or 5 years category). If the contract is not renewed and the assistant prof is not promoted to next level, s/he has one more year after the review. This allows the prof to line up another job and the college to fill the slot with another prof.
3. associate prof: next level. Demonstrated research and teaching abilities. In most schools, it comes with tenure (life-time guaranteed position). A couple of universities (Harvard and Yale?) do not grant tenure at that level.
4. Full prof: Highest level, with tenure. Some associate profs never make it to the full prof level, especially if they do not produce evidence of further research after acquiring associate prof status.
5. full prof with named chair. The most prestigious level. Salary comes from set aside endowment.

II. Non-tenure track:
preceptors (usually in language courses)Ph.D. is not required.
lecturers, senior lecturers. They usually have Ph.Ds and teach only one or two courses in addition to other duties, usually administrative.
preceptors and lecturers work on contracts whose length vary from institution to institution.

Adjunct profs or part-time profs. Usually have Ph.Ds.; they are paid by the course, no benefits, no participation in decision-making.

Visiting Prof: a prof from another university, usually on sabbatical leave from his or her home insitution. Usually visits for one semester or one year. The visiting prof will ordinarily not be here next year. Some time, a university will hire a visiting prof for a multi-year period to fill in for a regular prof who is on a multi-year leave from his or her university, e.g., to serve in the government. Or the prof may be tapped to serve in the school's administration, is not relinquishing membership in his or her department, so his/her slot is not freed up and a permanent replacement cannot be hired.

Hope this helps. In the case of your S, likely the visiting prof will not be there next year. But s/he is probably as fully qualified as regular faculty members.

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 12:24 pm: Edit

Thanks for the input. I am anxious to talk to my son to see how he likes his profs.

Marite, I read with much interest your posts on the class size thread, particularly your statement - and I am paraphrasing here - that a large class size does not indicate a poor experience, just as a small one does not guarantee a good one. We were at dinner with friends yesterday, and their son is at the University of Texas, which has notoriously large freshman classes in some subjects. His Intro to Chemistry lecture has 450 students. He absolutely loves the class. He says the prof is very engaging and humorous and his lectures are anything but dry and boring. Lends support to your theory.

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