Magazine article Liberal Education

President's Message: PFF-The Road Ahead

Magazine article Liberal Education

President's Message: PFF-The Road Ahead

Article excerpt

The featured topic for this issue-Preparing Future Faculty (PFF)-resonates arrestingly with the several articles on faculty work by scholars at Bucknell University, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), and Susquehanna University. The PFF authors examine the academy's up-hill progress-halting yet tangible-in aligning graduate education with the expectations for new faculty. Yet the companion campus articles on faculty work remind us that a broadening of graduate education remains an urgent need.

One foundation program officer caught the nub of the problem in discussing her organization's multimillion dollar investment in faculty development grants. "What we're really funding with these faculty development grants," she told me, "is remedial education in all the topics-teaching, learning, curriculum, connections with society-that the graduate schools refuse to address." How much better if graduate students were introduced to the full array of their institutional roles as future faculty membars-including their role in fostering undergraduate learning-as a normal and even valued part of their professional preparation!

The Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) initiative was launched by the AAC&U community for just this purpose. For over a decade, PFF has worked to create new collaborations and deepened understandings across the institutional boundaries that traditionally have separated graduate and undergraduate learning. This year, AAC&U undertook a serious internal review of the strengths and limits of PFF's accomplishments to date. The results reported in these pages are both inspiring and sobering.

PFF was first launched at AAC&U in 1989 (under a different title) with a pilot grant from the Department of Education Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) to create experimental partnerships between three pairs of graduate institutions and undergraduate campuses: The University of Chicago and Knox College; Duke University and Guilford College; and Brown University with Connecticut College. The goal was to focus, within graduate programs and among future faculty, on faculty members' institutional role in fostering educational excellence and vitality.

Energized by the great success of this pilot effort, AAC&U gladly accepted a 1992 invitation from the Pew Charitable Trusts to frame a broader and more comprehensive initiative to align graduate education with the needs of undergraduate institutions. Recognizing the value of a visible partnership between the AAC&U community and the graduate schools, AAC&U invited the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) to join what thereafter became known as PFF. With strong support from past-president Jules Lapidus at CGS, the partnership between these two associations became enormously generative for most of the ensuing decade. Between 1993 and 2002, the PFF initiative would benefit from over 7 million dollars in grant support, from Pew, the National Science Foundation, and, most recently, The Atlantic Philanthropies.

PFF was fortunate to have as its director AAC&U's Jerry Gaff, who brought to the initiative virtually unparalleled knowledge of both curriculum reform efforts throughout higher education and faculty development. Gaff has worked with a series of partners at CGS, especially Anne Pruitt-Logan, who, as a former graduate dean, shared the vision of a dynamic new connection that would connect graduate programs with the priorities of undergraduate learning.

With Gaff and Pruitt-Logan modeling the kind of collaboration PFF sought to advance, the initiative has steadily expanded its scope, visibility, and influence. …

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