Non-traditional route to full-time professorship

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by chrisjm18, Feb 3, 2020.

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  1. felderga

    felderga Active Member

    I definately want to read his research and work on African American serial killers...sounds intereting ...
    chrisjm18 likes this.
  2. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

  3. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    I bought a new suit a few weeks ago. Call me an optimist for thinking that I'll have a place to wear it someday soon.

    Anyway, it made me think about images we project and I feel like a lot of my conclusions about menswear apply to degrees to a certain extent.

    This suit looks good. I did one of those made to measure websites. Easily the best fitting suit I had out of the box and, honestly, made me rethink how some of my other suits fit. They always looked fine to me but now I have a basis for comparison and I like this styling better.

    To the outside world, none of this matters. While this suit may look better than every suit in my closet all of those suits in my closet were worn for countless job interviews and saw me through multiple promotions. They were fine. I walked in wearing a suit and all was right in the world. I do not expect that with this new suit that I will go back to the office and my VP will take one look at me and immediately promote me for reasons he can't quite put his finger on. I do not think that every male co-worker will suddenly be envious of me and every female co-worker will suddenly be attracted to me. As tempting as it is to view this suit through the lens of an axe body spray commercial, it's just a suit. That said, if you walk into a job interview with a truly ill fitting or otherwise inappropriate suit it will be a mark against you. But there is a diminishing return in terms of suit quality and its effect on your job search. Realistically, the $200 suit you got on sale at Joseph A. Banks is going to get you the job just as well as the $2,000 custom suit. The reason is because the suit is one aspect of you as a candidate. You're not being hired because of your suit. You're not being hired solely because of your education. You're being hired as a package deal.

    I have seen young men walk in and try to get hired based on their suit. They are very often fresh out of school and think that if they dress like an executive for an entry level position that we will be so overwhelmed by their amazingness that we will immediately offer them jobs as senior management (and many express disappointment when we don't).

    My experience in higher ed teaching is but as a humble community college adjunct. I can tell you that in my experience there are people who relied solely on degrees and schools to get the job. They got there fine because it's a community college. It's a bit hard to argue that someone with an M.Eng. from Cornell isn't qualified to teach engineering technology. However, it's also quite hard to argue that the personwith an M.Eng. from some unheard of state school in rural Alabama is not qualified to teach engineering technology, particularly when s/he has years of experience in that field. It's a package deal. To a small community college just having an Ivy League diploma might be enough to get you into the interview. It lends gravitas to a faculty with, frankly, underwhelming paper credentials. But those seem to be the exception more than the rule. The rule at my CC and at schools like Syracuse or Binghamton is that, yes, you need a Masters or a doctorate (depending upon what you're teaching and if the position is adjunct or tenure track). However, for tenure track especially, you need publications and publications that are relevant to the position for which you are applying. Everyone in the English department may have a PhD in English Lit. However, if they are trying to fill a named chair for a professor of poetry then they're going to want someone whose expertise is poetry. A well published candidate in the field of poetry but whose doctorate is from Athabasca is going to be a stronger candidate than someone with a PhD from Harvard but whose publication history revolves solely around Shakespeare.

    That doctorate is your suit. Without it you are too out of place in the interview to be taken seriously. With it you check a box. If you lack anything interesting to say and anything meaningful to add to the conversation of your field of expertise then you're not getting it no matter how well tailored and fine it may look.

    Every time we come up with examples of someone with a doctorate from a for-profit school working full time in academia they tend to fall into two buckets; faculty who clearly were hired with a masters and earned a doctorate after the fact and people with extensive practical experience who earned a DL doctorate. And it's really easy to get dismissive of those and say "Well, but they weren't hired because of their doctorate they were hired because of their expertise/masters degree!" Yeah, because no one is hired "because of their doctorate."

    So my advice to anyone who may read this thread now or in the future is this; if you want to be full time faculty and are coming from less traditional beginnings then make something of yourself that would make you highly desirable for such a role and in a field where experience really matters. You have a great shot of getting there was a nurse or a CPA or an engineer or, to a lesser extent, an HR professional (we can also work at the university in HR so, we have a solid plan B). But you're going to have an uphill battle if you want to teach history, literature, philosophy etc where there are many candidates with degrees from highly prestigious schools and are disciplines which lack, for the most part, any way to have "experience" in them not related to higher education teaching and academic publication.
  4. warguns

    warguns Member

    This is an area where you have to watch out for "ringers". These are folks that got a job at a college, were well-lived or had some connection and got the easiest possible doctoral degree to get tenure. Ive known MANY cases like this.
  5. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

  6. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Why do you have to "watch out" for them. Are they dangerous?

    I've written many times about the utility of a nontraditional doctorate in just such a scenario. It would be helpful to know why we should be wary of it.
  7. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    I agree that's odd phrasing, but he may just mean that "ringers", as he calls them, skew the data if one is deciding whether a non-traditional is likely to work for them.
  8. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Possibly. I contend that it is the ONLY way a nontraditional degree will work for you in traditional academia.
  9. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    I believe that Shawn Ambrose earned his doctorate at Capella before he was taken on at St. Francis, but I don't remember for sure and sadly he's no longer around to tell us.

    Even if so, I'd admit it's a Tellarite argument, because exceptions like that that prove the rule are exceedingly rare.
  10. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member


    Dr. Narketta Sparksman-Key, associate professor at Old Dominion University, was hired as a TT faculty after earning her Ph.D. from Capella. She did not previously serve at ODU.
  11. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    I didn't say there were zero examples, I said exceptions like that that prove the rule are exceedingly rare.
  12. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    I know. I think you were trying to share an example of someone who might have been hired after earning their doctorate. So, I basically shared an example of someone who certainly did. I was merely reaffirming what you were saying. Rich is the one who suggested that there were zero examples of this happening.
  13. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Let's be sure what we mean by "this." I was clear that you certainly can find examples of people in traditional academic positions who hold nontraditional doctoral degrees. I was also clear that it required a nontraditional pathway, that you'd need someone at that school who really wanted to hire you--that the degree allowed for it. "None" refers to finding people who earned a doctorate nontraditionally and then pursued a traditional academic position in the traditional way.

    Even that is probably technically wrong; someone has probably done it. But the main point is that earning a doctorate nontraditionally generally doesn't put one into a position of conducting a traditional search for a traditional academic position.
  14. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

  15. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Chris: do you know how she obtained her position? If not, the example isn't relevant. In fact, her bio implies that she secured the position first, then earned the Walden doctorate.
  16. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    Maybe you should check her CV!
  17. not4profit

    not4profit Active Member

    I am curious how we measure this. For example you could get a distance ed doctorate from Liberty or Jacksonville State or St Leo or Valdosta State. Are those considered non traditional? Or is it just the Waldens, Phoenixs, Capellas, etc. That are considered non traditional.
  18. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    It says she's a lecturer. So does her bio page you linked. Her LinkedIn page says she's been a full-time assistant professor for four months, having held other non-academic positions before that, as well as being a part-time lecturer. An unreasonable conclusion would be that the school hired her as a tenure-track professor on the basis of her Walden doctorate. A more reasonable conclusion is that, upon graduating, she got work at the school and--over the course of 7 years--worked herself into a full-time assistant professorship (tenure-track or not?).

    Again, I maintain that going to a nontraditional doctoral program to obtain a traditional academic job is folly. But Dr. Bryant's example is one many people should take heart in. She got work at the school and then took most of the next decade to turn it into some sort of full-time teaching gig.
  19. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    Non-traditional = not full-time, brick and mortar... even if it's at Harvard.

    She started as a lecturer in 2013, the same year she finished her Ph.D. Even if it took 7 years to get an FT, tenure-track position, she still got it based on her Ph.D. Heck, some traditionally prepared Ph.D.s work as underpaid post-docs for 5+ years before getting a TT position.

    GSU also have another guy (visiting professor/instructor) who is pursuing his Ph.D. at Walden. Pretty sure he could earn an FT position when he's PhinisheD.

    BTW, GSU currently has 4 tenure-track positions for Fall 2021. CJ peeps: Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology (4 positions)
  20. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

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