Some CSU students and faculty agree that freshmen education is satisfactory, despite a 1998 study that stated freshmen often get the short end of the stick when it comes to professors.
The study, conducted by a commission for the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, stated that, “freshmen – the students who need the very best teaching – might actually receive the worst.”
Some CSU professors disagree with this assessment, however.
“The economics department has a strong commitment to having full-time faculty teach entry-level classes,” said Douglas Kinnear, an economics professor. “This doesn’t suggest the temporary faculty is inferior, we just feel more experienced professors might be able to better relate the material.”
Alan Tucker, vice provost for faculty affairs, said graduate students or non-standard faculty can teach lab sections and recitations because there is not such a need for someone with much experience to teach those courses.
“Tenured faculty must teach lectures,” Tucker said.
CSU currently employs 1,520 faculty members. Of those, 960 are full-time tenured faculty and the remaining 560 are special appointment and temporary appointment faculty.
“Special appointment faculties are mainly hired to do research. They have the same credentials as the tenured faculty but with terminal degrees,” Tucker said. “Temporary appointment faculties are hired for a specific amount of time, with no possibility for tenure. These professors may or may not have a Ph.D. but are elite in their fields.”
Some CSU students are happy with their freshmen classes and do not mind if a professor without a doctorate taught their classes.
“It doesn’t make much of a difference to me if the professor doesn’t have a Ph.D.,” said Amber Valdez, a sophomore political science major. “It makes them a little more approachable when they don’t because it seems like they are on the same level.”
Kinnear believes more schools are hiring special and temporary appointment faculty because they are usually paid less, receive fewer benefits, have no long term commitments and schools are able to hire the faculty only when enrollment numbers require it.
“I wouldn’t care if the professor didn’t have a Ph.D. as long as they know what they are talking about and do it in an interesting manner,” said freshman Justin Shaw, a technical journalism major.
Kinnear understands the reason for hiring professors without doctorates, but he does not always agree with it.
“A Ph.D. is the ticket in academia,” he said. “Someone who is elite in their field without a Ph.D. is an oxymoron.”