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Ph.D.'s and DOF's
I should be moving, but instead, this thread attracted my interest. As one
of the younger coaches (with PhD in hand, whew!), I had to look at what
is starting to happen in the communication field. Unfortunately, most of
the forensics jobs out there (witness the Linfield position just posted)
are *term* positions *unless* you have a PhD.
I made a difficult choice--instead of going for a school that would help
me gain coaching experience, I went to a school that was #1 in my field
but wouldn't offer me any coaching opportunities (they gave me a
fellowship instead). For my PhD, I also went to a school that gave me a
fellowship, which also precluded me from coaching. I volunteered as a coach,
but as I learned at several job interviews, it's *not* the same!
While on these fellowships, I saw what faculty members had to say about
forensics. I've seen faculty tell grad students working with programs,
"You're spending too much time on forensics. You should worry about
publishing/classes/papers." We're in a day and age when many grad.
students are needing pubs in order to get their first jobs. As many of
you have mentioned, we need to do something to boost our reputation in the
academic community...in a day and age where budgets are tight, and we've
seen too many good schools lose programs or come to the brink (which
happened while I was at LSU, but look at Washington, Wright State, etc.),
we have to justify ourselves more than ever. I applaud what Steve and
Jack and others are doing to help our reputations.
Ken Broda-Bahm mentioned the number of PhD programs allowing students to
be either DOF's or ADOF's is decreasing--he's right. And when PhD
programs have a team, only one student is often given the assistantship,
and there is a natural tendency to protect one's territory. And in many
cases, the assistantship is taken by someone who already was a coach
somewhere else. So the mentoring process isn't always happening. Further,
the number of communication education programs (where "forensics
education" would likely be found) is decreasing. The pool dries up even
Steve Hunt made one comment that I think was unintended: "...schools that
produce *real* DOF's." (I would add Indiana Univ. to his list). It seems
to me that we could be stuck in a quandry--the next generation of DOF's
(like me) will likely come from big programs w/o much support, if
they're not coming from the big name institutions. (If we get PhD's --
we may have a lot of MA's bouncing around from school to school that
isn't good either for the coach or the profession.)
Let's face it--our administrations *want* PhD's. One of my former grad
school colleagues, David Chesier, realized it and went back for his PhD.
All of the fluffy comparision books (US News, etc.) all use the statistic
of the percentage of PhD's on the faculty. Many schools (mine included)
won't look at a new faculty member unless they have the PhD in hand. And
as someone mentioned, once many forensics coaches get the PhD, they start
thinking about leaving the activity. I interviewed at one school where
there were 5 former DOF's on the faculty.
One other comment--to the students lurking on this thread...you're
probably wondering, "What's in this for me?" Your coaches want to stay
and coach you! I nearly lost a coach because he didn't have his PhD (he
finished at the last possible moment). In the IE world, Illinois State is
about to lose their head coach because he has to go and work on his PhD
(and he's not the only one!). Many coaches don't want term positions that
force them to leave after they bring in new classes of students. We want
to see people mature from being a freshman to a graduating senior. Yet,
many colleges won't let your coaches be full-time. What can you do as
students? Talk to other professors--praise your coaches and let those
professors know all your coach does for you. If you're inclined, go to
the Board of Trustees and encourage them to make your coach full time and
tenure-track just like everybody else. Administrators need to hear that
coaches are important to students.
This is an extremely complex issue, and I'm glad it's been brought up. I
don't claim to speak for those of us who are recent PhD's, but the issue
is just as important from our end of things. Who will come along in 10
years and be the next generation?
Thanks for reading.
Michael Dreher (PhD)
Director of Forensics, Palm Beach Atlantic College
Archive created by Jonathan Stanton (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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