The University (or the Professor and the University)

Many universities try to economize by relegating a large portion of the teaching to instructors and graduate students, on the one hand, while on the other hand, encouraging their research faculty to obtain grants (and spend their time working on funded research rather than teaching) thus generating additional revenue for the university.

This seems antithetical to the idea of a university.

Charles Vest a former president of MIT and now the president of the National Academy of Engineering observes:

“For nearly twenty years I was active in both classroom teaching and research, teaching both undergraduate and graduate subjects every term. As a teacher I have seen the value to students of learning from–and working with–men and women who are discovering the future through their research, not just teaching the history of their fields.”

“One may start out as an effective and even brilliant teacher, but without the kind of continual renewal that research and scholarship provide, one may not grow in wisdom and breadth, and over time may lose rather than gain in effectiveness as a teacher.”

“That is why I believe that the very best learning environment is one in which undergraduate and graduate education are blended with the conduct of research and scholarship. The issue should not be teaching versus research, it should be the proper interweaving of the two.”

Charles Vest, Learning in a Research University, (President Vest’s letter to the parents of MIT undergraduates) MIT Parents News, Spring 1994.