Pew Charitable Trusts Laud UT's Professional Development Program

Fall 1999, Vol 2, Number 4
A quarterly publication of the Pew Charitable Trusts


The University of Texas has taken a Trusts-supported program to a new level of clarity. For the professional development of its graduate students, the university sponsors for- credit courses in writing and speaking as well as other job-oriented subjects: the series originated in the institution's participation in Preparing Future Faculty, a project of the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Graduate students at Texas have been taking the courses to help them write their dissertations and explain their work to others. They expect to enhance their appeal to potential employers, especially outside academe, and demystify their research. "You've got the public, legislators and donors looking at us, saying, `So what is the value of this that you do?" Associate Dean Richard A. Cherwitz told the Chronicle of Higher Education. "Most faculty have got to be able to establish the value of what they do to the larger society."

According to Chronicle, the program has its detractors, including faculty advisers who prefer their students to stay in the labs, students who consider the program window-dressing and academics who think the professorate itself should be responsible for such courses. And it has its supporters like program advisor Linda Ferreira-Buckley, an associate professor of English, who said, "It's about making the Ph.D. all it can be."

"" Texas grad students read Elements of Style by William Strunk and E. B. White (pictured at left), whose spider Charlotte created a Web site of perfect expression.