Teaching-intensive (R2) Universities
Contributed by: Gabe LaHue
Our attention turned this week from adjunct positions and the associated labor issues to the benefits and challenges of being a full-time professor at a teaching-intensive university. We were lucky to host Tialitha Macklin, an Assistant Professor in English from California State University, Sacramento, who spoke to us about her experiences and advice.
Dr. Macklin's position is 60% teaching, 30% administration, and 10% research. This translates to teaching three courses each semester the first year and four courses each semester thereafter (commonly referred to as 3/3 and 4/4). It is clear that Dr. Macklin is extremely passionate about teaching and she advised us to avoid taking on too much of an administrative workload (to the degree possible), especially when first hired. Her research expectations are to publish a peer-reviewed article about once per year, and these publications can revolve around the work that one is doing in the classroom. She is a major professor for 5 - 10 graduate students and professors in her department serve on the thesis committees for all students since it is such a small department.
After giving us an idea of what her position entails, Dr. Macklin shared some advice about the job application and interview process for aspiring professors. First, she encouraged us to send out more applications, since it is frequently the applications that one doesn't expect to hear back from that pay off. Suggested questions to ask when interviewing included:
- What is their favorite thing about the school? (Hint: It should be the students)
- What percent of newly hired professors get tenure?
- How many people are in the department?
- Is there an opportunity to create new courses?
- What is the work-life balance like at the institution?
This last question was particularly stressed, as maintaining an adequate work-life balance appeared to be one of the most challenging parts of working at a teaching-intensive university. However, for those that can maintain that balance or cope with a very demanding workload, working at this type of university can be very rewarding.
Special thanks to GTC member Stacy Wittstock for inviting our speaker for this week.