Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Duly Noted

From an article in the Sept. 29 Chronicle, based on a study by Cathy Trower and Richard Chait of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, on the factors that lead younger faculty to stay at a given college:

Janet L. Vaglia, an assistant professor of biology at DePauw University, in Indiana, says her level of engagement with her colleagues has been a key factor in how happy she is there. And Ms. Vaglia was particularly pleased to have a good cohort of professors her age. At her previous institution, she says, the older faculty members were "distant" and did not communicate with each other.

"a good cohort of professors her age." Hmm. Interesting.

"Life is Relationships" so a cohort makes sense.
I'm guessing that the "good cohort of people her age has to extend beyond biology. DePauw is a smll school, about 2200 students and about 240 full-time faculty (I know all this because I got my BA there). (More biology faculty than I would have expected--14 full-time people). Amazingly enough 8 assistant professoers, so there's either been a lot of recent expansion or a lot of recent turnover.
I'm at a university where I have a large number of acquaintances to socialize with (say 20-30?), who are either junior, or roughly my age, or childless, or single--and yes, it greatly improves my quality of life and my contentment with my job. Also, from talking to grad school friends, I get the sense that I am lucky to have this, not all do.
Oddly... This is one of the primary things that keeps undergraduates at an institution too.

And... It's one of the things that keeps females in the STEM disciplines.

How crazy!
I'd agree that having good relationships on campus is important, but I'm not sure age is the key factor; I think mindset and attitude (towards teaching, politics, life, etc.) are more important than age. For instance, when I started teaching at my campus most of the faculty I socialized with were nearing retirement, but they were great people who made working there a lot of fun.
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