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Opinion: KU doctoral grad sees lack of faculty support

Correction: Instead of KU_Cynic, I was agreeing with Mountainpeak.

May 30, 2013 at 3:08 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Opinion: KU doctoral grad sees lack of faculty support

Please do not base your judgement of the KU Slavic department of Dr. Johnson's opinion piece. Like KU_Cynic, I also had a very different experience in the KU Slavic department. I received thorough mentoring related to pedagogy, research, grant-writing, and the job search process. Like most of my peers, my entire education at KU was funded through GTA-ships, fellowships, and lectureships.

The department is tiny and alumni do not always send in updates so I'll briefly detail what I know about Johnson's peers: Dement, Harris, Murphy-Lee, and Amditis all hold permanent positions teaching Russian (2 tenure track assistant professorships and 2 permanent lectureships). Since graduating from KU, 3 of these alumni have published articles in top journals in the field, work that they began researching at KU. Perkins wishes to work at KU and holds a permanent position in the language lab (as a grad student, he cultivated skills and gained experience that would complement his Slavic PHD, making him quite marketable). Keefe works as a language specialist for the government. Considering the job market in Russian, the department has had remarkable success in placing its PhDs, both in and outside of academia.

I do not intend to convey the message that the KU Slavic program or its professors are perfect. Grad school is grad school. But the professors in the department truly care about their students' development, marketability, and success. They also take recommendation letters seriously (one of the faculty even helped me write my first recommendation letters!). If they cannot recommend Dr. Johnson, they must have their reasons. I will not slander Dr. Johnson by speculating on what these reasons might be.

In hindsight, I am grateful I chose to pursue a PHD in Slavic languages at KU. I have met many grad students in Slavic and Russian history PHD programs who have not experienced the encouragement and mentoring I enjoyed.

May 30, 2013 at 2:12 p.m. ( | suggest removal )