Teaching at a Primarily Undergraduate Institution
>>> oh, so NSF "primary undergraduate" = "liberal arts"
Fri Jun 24 04:21:45 2016 - permalink -
How Do Research-Intensive Universities and Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (PUIs) Differ?
Is a faculty position at a liberal arts college any different from one at a research-intensive university? Certainly. It differs from a comprehensive university and a community college as well.
My friends at research-intensive universities feel immense pressure to conduct cutting-edge research and to obtain the support to conduct it with small armies of people who depend upon them for their livelihoods. My friends at community colleges feel immense pressure to teach long hours with lots of students, and like their research-intensive peers, the really successful ones work lots of long hours. As a liberal arts college professor, I have to teach quite a bit, and to do publishable research with undergraduates. To be successful in gaining tenure and promotion, it takes a lot of time and effort to do both well.
It turns out that I really do like teaching, so the balance of teaching and research at a liberal arts college was a perfectly satisfactory option—and indeed preferable to a national laboratory or industrial setting for me. The type of research I do must be tempered with the reality of the institutional resources available— my school has a strong science program and collaborations are great things in most science disciplines these days, making it more possible than ever to do big science at smaller institutions. I have made a living doing some riskier cross-disciplinary research that may not always pay off in terms of research publications—but often does—and it always pays off in terms of student training and preparation.