Preparing Future Faculty
The University of Kentucky's Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) Program is part of the national PFF initiative begun in the 1990s (see history below). Its purpose is to provide professional development guidance to graduate students who wish to explore or pursue a faculty career at one of the types of institutions of higher education (research universities, regional comprehensive universities, independent universities and colleges, community colleges, or for-profit universities). The overall focus is on readiness for the dynamics of faculty work in the areas of research, teaching, and service. The program emphasizes discovering individual fit and matching it with institutional fit (the workplace's mission, expectations, culture, etc). The program's entry course, GS 650, offers students the background, language, and tools necessary for understanding and gauging this crucial match.
Students may take GS 650 alone or may follow it with other GS courses, such as GS 610 (College Teaching) or GS 630 (Instructional Technology). These courses will accrue for students who want to pursue a twelve-credit-hour Certificate in College Teaching and Learning (see link to an application and more information). A few academic departments at UK also offer discipline-specific versions of a PFF course, and some offer college pedagogy courses. Students pursuing the certificate may apply some of these departmental hours to their certificate completion (course eligibility is usually determined on a case-by-case basis). The Certificate in College Teaching and Learning curriculum culminates in a mentored teaching practicum, whereby the student is placed as primary instructor of a course (usually at another institution's campus) for a semester's emersion in college teaching, as well as in the culture and character of the specific institution. The practicum is particularly valuable to graduate students who have not had the benefit of serving as a graduate teaching assistant with full responsibility of a course. It also allows students a more complete picture of the institution's work environment and a faculty member's work-life.
Description and History of PFF at The University of Kentucky
Launched in 1994 with 17 cluster groups representing 85 different types of institutions, PFF has rapidly gained support for its role in developing new educational models that introduce graduate students to the day-to-day realities of the professoriate. Students benefit from such opportunities as teaching apprenticeships, forums to discuss job hunting and criteria for tenure, and discussions about the roles and rewards of faculty careers at teaching institutions as well as large research institutions. The University of Kentucky was one of the original cluster groups and was awarded an additional three-year grant under Phase II of the Preparing Future Faculty Initiative. Phase two extends the work of the project and its four major goals:
- Institutionalize PFF principles in existing PFF programs.
- Expand PFF to reach to a wider number and variety of institutions.
- Define the intellectual bases of PFF to help reform and improve graduate preparation for faculty responsibilities.
- Mobilize the higher education community to reshape doctoral education nationally.
Goals of the Preparing Future Faculty Initiative at the University of Kentucky
The Preparing Future Faculty initiatives are designed to help graduate students further develop their teaching skills and explore the various aspects of an academic career on a college or university campus. Specific goals are to help graduate students:
- Acquire information about the teaching and learning process and faculty roles at a variety of institutions of higher education;
- Gain a realistic perspective on the skills required for success as a faculty member;
- Examine their fit with an academic career in higher education in general and at specific institutions;
- Demonstrate, document, and reflect upon their teaching skills; and
- Compete for faculty or other professional positions.