Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Academically challenged

My colleague, Joel West, wrote a blog post yesterday responding to an article in the Financial Times on the looming shortage of b-school faculty. In the post, he raises the age old question of whether business students are better served by traditional academics or those with current, practical business experience. Obviously, you can't just have one or the other...At many b-schools, the faculty with the highest student ratings are rarely the ones with the best record of publishing.

In the post, he mentioned that while he feels I am a lynch pin (Thanks, Joel!) of the entrepreneurship program, I depress the academically qualified ratio. Not immediately grasping the meaning, I assumed that if I'm considered academically unqualified, I must be academically challenged. This sounds like a politically correct term for "stupid". However, when I checked into it, it just means for accreditation purposes, I am "PQ" (professional qualified), not "AQ" (academically qualified).

Thinking back to my b-school experiences at Wharton and UCLA, the best profs I had were a mix of AQ and PQ. However, the academics that were in the group of the best spent a reasonable amount of time in industry and consulting. The lecturers tended to be consistently excellent in the classroom, because they were teaching because they enjoyed it rather than a requirement as tenured or tenure track faculty. The money clearly isn't the driving force!

I have been teaching on a part-time basis for over ten years and enjoy the interaction with students and faculty. However, as an adjunct, I don't have to get involved in any of the politics (and very little of the bureaucracy) of academia. This reminds of a comment from the VP Engineering at one of my start-ups, who is a Brit with a dry sense of humor - "I used to teach at university, but then I realized I didn't like the students". Luckily, that isn't the case for me....

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