Tuesday, June 21, 2016
How the Place Works
I could tell you what the provost of a college at UCSC means (roughly), but it is nothing like what the provost and vice president of academic affairs does at a Cal State.
UC has one President, with each campus having a Chancellor. CSU has one Chancellor, with each campus having a President.
Teaching students in grad school what "provost" means would be pretty useless, unless you expect them to memorize hundreds of different hierarchies.
I'd put "how academia works" as a priority for grad school (with the exception of CCs of course, I think most programs do okay in this), but "how the university administration works" as part of orientation for new hires.
My college has a very good orientation program for new faculty, but "how this place works" is not part of it. They have minimal knowledge of policy, or even that there IS policy, now that it is all electronic rather than in a booklet given to all new hires. Sadly, this extends to some of the newer deans, who can be weak on process.
But I also agree that it should start with some sort of education as a grad student. I learned a lot of it over beer with some astute faculty members and the rest when I accidentally got on a committee where I got to know the Provost personally. Finally, what Gas Station Without Pumps says is important because titles do vary. It is the function that should be emphasized as well as the diverse nature of higher ed itself. (I also blogged a lot about the different nature of jobs in academia, way back when I still blogged actively.) Quite a few good people, possibly including some who complain a lot on Inside Higher Ed, fail to get a job because they either don't know how to find and get a job at one or don't want to work at a CC or a 4/4 regional U.
OTOH, I think it is worth noting that the (often vast) majority of PhDs do NOT end up in professorial positions. So before we talk about required courses in the operation of higher ed, I'd say there's a higher need for required courses in things like preparing a resume, how to interview, and basic management (hell, useful if you were in academia. The stories of terrible advisors I've heard...).
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