Being a faculty: duties

I already posted this in the forums, but was not sure where exactly to put this. So I am having this blog entry as well.


Throughout the entire course so far we have gone through various aspects of academic world. Faculties are the engines of academia. They help academics progress, survive and adapt. Usually when we think of the term faculty we think of only teachers, educators , professors, lecturers etc. However there are people directly attached to the university or academic institution but indirectly attached to the process of teaching also referred to as faculty.

Le t us evaluate the roles and duties of the faculty in the context of teaching. To me , the main purpose of education is to discover and understand one’s own self. Above everything, the money and the job, education has separate necessity of its own: it is the food of our mind. It therefore becomes important that this simple yet powerful  philosophy should be kept in mind while imparting education. Thus faculty has to be aware of his/her role in imparting or transferring the knowledge to the student. It is also important to share the neutral perspective on a subject rather than a prejudiced one in from t of the students and then help them analyze the pros and the cons and let them decide on their own.

It is important during the course of teaching to develop a friendly yet respectable position with the students. While  the friendships let students open the doors and windows of their minds, the respect acts a strong guiding influence steering them through the right path.

The duties do not end inside the classroom. It is important for a faculty to be a critic of the outside world.  Also a faculty should always in some way give back to the society, contribute some way towards its welfare of the.

One of the most important duties is the pursuit of knowledge in terms of research.  A faculty should always be actively involved in research and communicating the findings.

The proper guidance and mentoring is a must for development of a student into an independent scholar. Mentoring from a faculty is thus an important quality. One should keep in mind that mentoring and teaching are not the same thing. While teaching a teacher points out specific details and thus shows the student a zoomed in view, mentoring is about making them aware of the bigger picture, how individual pieces fit together, understanding the perspective. So , in effect, a mentor shows the zoomed out picture.

A faculty should help industry and Government whenever the opportunity presents and also be on the lookout  of  financial support  from them. This will help to improve the infrastructure of the academic institution. They sometime may have to represent the university to provide an opinion on a social issue. It is important in this context not to present a prejudiced opinion and rather accurate represent the stance of the university on that particular issue.

Being a faculty, thus one needs to keep these points in mind,

A course-a journey! PFP 2012

The semester is almost over. For most of us it has been a struggle as always and for some lucky few it has been a cruise! I was thinking about this semester, the PFP course and all the marvelous experiences I had in the classroom and this chronicle article caught my eye:

Several things ran through my mind as I went through it:

  • The most beautiful part of the article was the comparison of a course with a journey. It is time to turn in our “being a faculty” article for the course and under this context the article provided a wonderful perspective on this. The author compares the faculty as the instructor who highlights and “coaxes” students to some sights to explore.
  • In the end only certain peak experience will remain in our mind and when we look back in retrospect, these peaks will help form an opinion about how good the course was. If we think of our PFP course from that perspective, there are plenty of large peaks on happy memory associated which I am sure will remain in my heart forever. PFP 2012 is a wonderful journey for me which sadly is about to end 🙁
  • Finally the most heartening fact for lazy people like me is that  quoting the author, “And even this late in the semester, there’s still time left to make that lasting impression.”  This gives me extra push towards this late in the semester

Happy exams to everyone and best of luck! 🙂


Entrepreneurship in higher education

I always wanted to write about it. I don’t remember anyone talking about this aspect in the blogs.(pardon me if I missed) We all look for jobs when we graduate from our universities. Specially in higher education, after finishing Masters and PHD we look for jobs in industry or faculty position in some universities or may be research scientist in a prestigious lab or even a post-doc. Al this is fine, but do we ever think of having our own company? having our own ideas patented, offering new products to the society? Do we ever think in those lines?

I think a lot of us do but only a very very very very few entertain such thoughts because it is a high risk high return endeavor. We love to have financial security which comes with a fixed job. Entrepreneurship however requires risk taking, improvising, understanding the business side and having vision and foresight. I came to know recently that VT offers a lot of free services which student can use like attorneys etc.Students interested in setting up a start-up company can use these services to come up with writing proposals and grants. They can also help to file a patent. The language in a patent is kind of tricky. So it is useful to use their help. There are lots of other things required for successfully setting up a start-up company. For international students, the financial aspect is also complicated due to their visa status (20 hours per week and that’s it).

What do you think about this?


Circumlocution: our tools of the trade these days?

I recently read an interesting article in the Chronicle about the use of circumlocutory language and phrases to mesmerize common people  in academia and industry. It is very amusing to note that some people like to use complex words to describe their work designation or even their research to common people.

I was wondering, am I guilty of the same thing? and what is the psychology of these people behind doing that? Well, the use of esoteric words in scientific community is very common. It seems as if scientists feel that the concepts and facts they learned after years of tireless pursuit should not be presented in a simplified way to the common people. As  if they think: why that person will be able to understand so quickly what took me years to understand? Or may be they think: If I present a simplified common-man’s-language description of my research they might not think highly of my research or they may not consider me as a smart guy!

I do not know exactly what transpires such behavior. However,  Often listening to the lectures of “Khan Academy” in youtube ( where they use common man’s language ) I get the feeling that, O, so that was it!, and that teacher in my school made it look like so difficult! He could have simply said this!

What do you think?