The Duties of Professors, including Sociology Professors

By Johanna Bockman

I find that I often have to explain to students, as well as many other people, what exactly professors do. Here is a nice explanation of the duties of college and university professors by a geology professor at the University of Georgia. Particularly remarkable is that we regularly write extensive, free (uncompensated) reviews of book and article manuscripts for for-profit presses and for-profit journals, as well as regular reviews of grant proposals for agencies and foundations located in the US and abroad. From Professor Railsback:

A member of our Board of Regents once calculated the amount of time that professors spend in the classroom. He used that number, and his assumption that professors only work at the front of a classroom, to conclude that professors of higher education only work about 200 hours a year.

I was surprised that anyone charged with oversight of an academic institution (or any institution) would have so little idea what their employees were doing. His remark prompted me to make the following list of things that college and university professors are required to do outside the classroom…The point: Just as it takes months to make a two-hour movie or to prepare for a day-long courtroom appearance, the work behind the scenes at academic institutions goes far beyond what happens at the front of a classroom.

The Duties of Professors at Colleges and Universities
Work directly related to classroom teaching:
Prepare lectures for classes
Prepare syllabi for classes
Prepare labs for classes
Grade class assignments
Prepare exams
Give make-up exams
Grade exams
Calculate grades
Meet with students outside class for help
Integrate new learning into existing classes
Develop new classes

Other work related to teaching:
Supervise and evaluate graduate student teaching
Evaluate teaching by colleagues
Lead field trips
Attend department colloquia

Service to students:
Advise students regarding course selection
Counsel students on careers opportunities and choices
Write letters of recommendation for students seeking jobs
Write letters of recommendation for students applying to graduate schools

Teaching and supervision of graduate students:
Supervise graduate student research
Help graduate students with their research
Read, make suggestions to improve, and evaluate graduate student thesis proposals
Read, make suggestions to improve, and evaluate M.S. student theses
Read, make suggestions to improve, and evaluate Ph.D. student dissertations
Read and evalute written Ph.D. comprehensive exams
Participate in Ph.D. oral comprehensive exams
Participate in graduate student defenses

Research Activities:
Write grant proposals for submission to funding agencies
Do ground-breaking verifiable and publishable scholarly research
Monitor spending from grants obtained from funding agencies
Maintain laboratories for faculty and student research
Write papers for publication in academic journals
Present research at meetings of scholarly societies to promote the University
Give presentations at other institutions of higher education
Read scholarly journals to keep abreast of new developments

Service to one’s field of study:
Edit academic journals
Review papers submitted to academic journals
Review grant proposals submitted to funding agencies
Serve on review committees of funding agencies
Serve on committees and in elected positions of scholarly societies

Service to one’s college or university:
Participate in departmental faculty meetings
Serve on departmental committees
Participate in departmental retreats
Serve in departmental administrative positions
Participate in or host faculty searches
Serve in Faculty Senate
Serve in University Council
Respond to information requests from administrators
Serve on university committees
Participate in University convocations
Participate in Commencement exercises

Service to the public:
Respond to public queries in faculty areas of specialization
Perform public service in faculty areas of specialization
Give public lectures
Oh, and by the way, teach.

The point: Just as it takes months to make a two-hour movie or to prepare for a day-long courtroom appearance, the work behind the scenes at academic institutions goes far beyond what happens at the front of a classroom.

Bruce Railsback (rlsbk@gly.uga.edu)
Back to Railsback’s main page

This post originally appeared on Dr. Bockman’s blog, Sociology in my Neighborhood on Jan 22, 2014

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Posted on February 19, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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