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'Ph.D. Rule May Cost Teachers Jobs'

June 12, 1988

Your article regarding the demand that all communications professors hold doctoral degrees painfully illustrates the critical need for some real world thinking at our institutions of higher learning. As a Cal State Fullerton communications graduate (bachelor's degree in 1970, master's in 1977) and former Daily Titan editor, I was offended by the blind academic snobbery exhibited in this article, particularly by Jack Coleman, vice president for academic affairs.

This situation is particularly disillusioning, because I have been proud to watch my old department grow in size and national stature, emerging most recently as a school in its own right. If the price of passage to this new status is the creation of an academic caste system, then perhaps it is too high a cost.

As I have achieved success in my chosen profession, it has been a particular pleasure for me to hire a number of Cal State Fullerton communications graduates. In the interviews, I don't recall ever asking the question, "How many of your professors held the Ph.D?" The question would have been as irrelevant and out of touch as Dr. Coleman's policy.

For every entry-level employee I hire in the professional communications field, I interview at least a dozen candidates and turn away at least another 75 to 100 more. Those who come into the profession had best be prepared to hit the ground running.

Most businesses in the communications field--or any other field, for that matter--cannot afford the luxury of extensive on-the-job training to fill in the gaps left by an overly theoretical education.

This should suggest to Cal State Fullerton's academic elitists that the extent to which its students are prepared to meet real challenges in a real working environment is a much greater determinant of the university's credibility than an arbitrary standard for its professors.

What disturbs me most about Dr. Coleman's decree is that it lends credence to outmoded, negative stereotypes about academe--that it lacks a clear focus on the world around it and that its priorities are out of sync.

A truly effective university faculty--particularly in fields such as communications--should be a blend of outstanding academic theorists and real-world practitioners.

The university would be better served by showing more concern for the quality and end results of a professor's classroom product than the number of degrees on his resume.


Mission Viejo

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