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UConn professors have ‘no typical day’

A day in the life of a UConn chemical engineering professor

Campus Correspondent

Published: Monday, February 3, 2014

Updated: Monday, February 3, 2014 00:02

UConn professors do not simply appear in front of a lecture hall, talk for an hour, and then disappear until there next class convenes.

“There is no typical day in the life of a professor,” said Dr. Jeffrey McCutcheon, an assistant professor in the chemical engineering department at UConn.

From the College of Fine Arts to the Neag School of Education to the College of Engineering, the day of a professor is filled with research, service to the university and teaching, and it’s always different.

“Twenty five percent of my job is teaching, 50 percent is research, and 25 percent is service,” McCutcheon said.

Teaching is not and cannot be the focus of most professors at a university like UConn because promotions and tenure are based primarily off their advances in research.

McCutcheon, who teaches one class each semester, said “I devote one day a week to preparing lectures and problems for my class, one day a week meeting with my PhD graduate students and the rest of the week writing papers, proposals, doing lab work and mentoring students.”

Research also comprises much of ceramics professor Dr. Monica Bock’s time.

“Every two years we have to put on a show,” said Bock.

Developing enough pieces for a new show is extremely time consuming and quite difficult for most art professors since, unlike in the College of Engineering, the professors teach five classes every year.

Bock said “There are not enough people for us not to teach so much.”

With each art class being held for three hours twice a week, that is approximately eighteen hours of class time in a single week– more hours in the classroom than most full time students spend.

Teaching does not just involve the time the professor spends in the classroom.

Dr. Susan Payne, a clinical professor from the Neag School of Education, said, “It is always a surprise to see how much planning is required.”

Dr. Thomas Abbot of the Biological Sciences Department in UConn’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences said, “During breaks I spend about 10 to 15 hours changing, editing and creating classes for the next semester.”

Bock, unlike Abbot, continues to modify her classes throughout the semester.

“Art is very different, to teach effectively you need to be much more responsive to students in the class,” she said. “Students today come from very different schools and have different skills. In art you have to redesign assignments according to the students you have.”

The teaching aspect of her job is also quite time consuming for Payne. Being a clinical professor means that Payne works with specific school districts that Neag partners with.  

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