2016 Summer Institute fellows learning about higher education teaching during a panel discussion in the Graduate Professional Development (GPD) Center.
2016 Summer Institute fellows learning about the the life of a faculty member and getting tenure at different types of institutions during a panel discussion in the Graduate Professional Development (GPD) Center.

Twenty-one of Berkeley’s finest doctoral candidates are spending six weeks this summer enhancing their knowledge of higher education and thoughtfully preparing for future faculty positions at a wide range of institutions through Berkeley’s Summer Institute for Preparing Future Faculty. The students hail from an eclectic mix of graduate programs with representatives from African American studies, bioengineering, energy and resources, French, and Law, to name just a few.

Now in its fourteenth year, the Summer Institute is offered jointly by the GSI Teaching & Resource Center and the Graduate Writing Center, both of which are units within the Graduate Division. Institute Fellows take a core course, From Graduate Student to Faculty Member, in which they address topics such as the history of higher education, governance and mission across the Carnegie classifications, requirements for tenure at different types of institutions, the life of the new faculty member, applying for academic positions, and current topics in higher education.

Each week the Fellows hear from faculty from a broad variety of Bay Area institutions. This past week, for example, panelists included Peter Garcia, President of Diablo Valley College, James Houpis, Former Provost at Cal State East Bay, Catherine Koshland, Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education at Berkeley, and Sharon Washington, Provost and Dean of the Faculty at Mills College. Through these panels Institute Fellows receive insider information about faculty life at different types of colleges and universities and assess which types of positions and schools may be right for them.

“Now that I have a clearer idea of what’s required — the task seems less daunting. Clarifying my goals has also energized me in my graduate research, and given me ideas for goals in my post-doctoral work to make the transition to faculty member easier.”

The Summer Institute kicked off on May 25 with a reception at the Women’s Faculty Club, where fellows were treated to an interview with Kim Voss, Professor of Sociology and Associate Dean of the Graduate Division conducted by Summer Institute Co-Director, Sabrina Soracco.

Voss and Soracco engaged in an insightful conversation that gave fellows a faculty perspective on life in academia. Voss told her story about her decision to become a sociologist, the challenges she faced in balancing teaching and research as a junior faculty member, and why the Berkeley sociology department is a good fit for her. She also provided excellent advice to the fellows on how to forge collegial relationships as junior faculty and how to develop one’s skills as a teacher through collaborating with peers.

In addition to taking the weekly core course led by institute co-directors Soracco and von Hoene, fellows choose from a course on academic writing and publishing and one on developing a teaching portfolio. At the end of the institute, fellows present the results of their summer work in the form of teaching and writing portfolios.

“My career goals have been clarified. I was generally considering the academic track—now I know where I want to be and what I need to do to get there.”