As Campus Dean of the University of Wisconsin-Baraboo/Sauk County, I work every day with professors I know are doing fascinating work.
The campus recently compiled a list of more than 100 publications of our faculty that reflects the wide range of academic interests and expertise on campus.
Professor Mike Jacobs wrote a study of the music of the Ku Klux Klan. Another, philosophy professor Dale Murray, has written about both the public funding of sports facilities, and the ethics of throwing a spitball.
English professor Frances Auld has critiqued horror films, biology professor Noah Anderson has written about the neck motion of the soft-shell turtle, and Diann Kiesel tells the world about the amazing quartzite in our own Baraboo area.
The list goes on.
After being a student at two University of Wisconsin institutions and holding positions at five UW campuses, I can say with great confidence that our faculty members are truly some of the most outstanding teaching professors in the UW System.
They are passionate about their work, and a big part of what makes starting one's academic career at UW-BSC such a memorable and enriching experience for our students.
I'm often asked what the difference is between a professor and a teacher. At UW-BSC, we are lucky to also have tenure-track professors and part-time instructors in the classroom, both of whom are outstanding and are highly dedicated and effective teachers.
A professor is a teacher, but the difference is that they "profess" their discipline. This means that they often hold the highest degree possible in their field of study and that they are actively engaged in that field.
When I arrived four years ago, UW-BSC had only 12 tenure-track professors on staff for nearly 650 students. Today, we have 18 with a goal of reaching 20 in the next several years. This is vital because we pride ourselves on the individual attention we can give to our students. Unlike larger campuses, we have no teaching assistants and our class size rarely exceeds 38 students.
Our full-time tenure-track professors are hired in national searches and hold the highest degree possible in their fields. This last year, we hired three faculty from applicant pools ranging from 30 to nearly 90 - a sign that we're as appealing to our successful candidates as they were to us.
The majority of our faculty members hold a Ph.D. or similar degree in their fields of study, which usually takes a minimum of nine years to complete. Because our faculty hold a total of 18 doctoral degrees, I often tell community members that there is likely no other institution in the county that has as many research degrees in their employment.
The faculty also represents 17 academic departments on campus, making it is possible for a student to start any major offered in the UW System at UW-BSC.
In addition to sharing their academic passions with their students, our faculty are accountable to them: Because we are a teaching college, we contact 100 former students of each faculty member who applies for tenure. The two-year UW Colleges campuses like UW-BSC are the only UW campuses to contact former students in the tenure decision process.
Our professors teach, provide service to the university and our community, and are active in scholarship that is both interesting and relevant.
Most important, they convey their passion to their students, ensuring that they begin their University of Wisconsin academic careers with the highest quality instruction.