Emerson College is known for its focus on the practical preparation of students for their future careers, but what is less well known is that the College is also involved in providing practical job experience for future faculty.
Emerson has been a host institution for the Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) program at Howard University’s Graduate School in Washington, D.C., since 2008. The program was launched by Howard in 1994 to help give future academics practical experience, and provides Howard graduate students who are working toward their doctorate degrees real job experience as faculty at partner host institutions.
Emerson is the only host institution in the Northeast. Other hosts are in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Illinois, and Texas.
Emerson Vice President of Academic Affairs Linda Moore fostered the relationship between the two institutions. She thought Howard and Emerson could work well together because both schools have strong communication programs. She also recognized PFF as a potential way to bring more diversity to Emerson’s faculty since Howard is a historically black university.
“Our experience with this program is very sound. Our first PFF member, Truman Keys, went right from Emerson into a tenure track position at a Connecticut university and shared with me his gratitude for his time at Emerson and the support provided by colleagues.”
Thus far, four Howard students have worked at Emerson through PFF. Three of them are currently at the College.
Nicole Files-Thompson, a communications doctoral student and faculty member in Communication Studies, began her faculty internship this fall. She says the best part of her experience has been recognition as a faculty member. “I got here and I saw [that students and faculty] are not looking at me like I’m a grad student; they see me as a full faculty member.”
Cara Moyer-Duncan, a Howard University graduate, was asked to stay at Emerson after she completed her internship and dissertation. She earned her doctorate in African studies at Howard and now teaches courses for the Institute of Liberal Arts and Disciplinary Studies at Emerson called Re-visioning Africa, and Cultural Constructions of Identity. Moyer-Duncan says one great aspect of the PFF program is the one-on-one mentorship Howard students receive from Emerson faculty members.
“PFF enabled me to think critically about how to teach different groups of people, and what the responsibilities of a professor are. I would definitely recommend it.”
Another bonus of the PFF program, according to Howard student and Emerson Communication Studies faculty member Ashley Torrence, is its creation of a supportive environment to help with the dissertation process for women and minorities. “Women, particularly black women, make up a very small portion of professors in higher education. African Americans comprise only four percent of persons who have PhDs. So there are programs like PFF in place to really facilitate that [dissertation] process.”