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February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Post-Doc Pit Stop

Professor LeMont Egle




The College of Liberal Arts (CLA) has a newly instated program that provides newly minted PhDs seeking a career in academia with an opportunity to teach at an urban university with a diverse population of students.

The Postdoctoral Fellowship offered by the CLA is one of two types of fellowships.

English Department Head Judith Goleman described the function of Postdoctoral Fellowships in an interview.

“Most post-doc fellowships are research fellowships. They provide new PhDs with an opportunity to bolster their research skills and prepare them for a career that is largely centered around research and analysis. People with degrees in math or science disciplines find these fellowships instrumental in securing long-term employment,” she said.

“UMB’s CLA is offering the much less common teaching post-doc fellowship. These fellowships are geared toward helping new PhDs who are interested in becoming professors learn to be better professors. They provide a chance for PhDs to hone their teaching skills, gain experience, and provide short-term employment that will be beneficial in seeking more permanent positions. Currently the fellowship is a two-year program. These are full-time salaried/benefited positions that are less expensive than tenure-track positions in the sense that they do not include merit raises and promotions.”

English professor LaMont Egle is starting his second year in the post-doc program.

“They make a résumé look sexy,” Egle said. “For a lot of us new PhDs they are our saving grace. There are not a ton of jobs out there and having good recommendations from respected universities really sets you apart. They also provide a job that keeps you on track for your chosen career path. They keep my game fresh, that is, when I go to interviews I can talk about things I did in class just a month or two ago as apposed to several months or years.”

The fellowship is brand new but was met with high demand because of the diversity of the student population and the high quality of education. Nearly 200 people applied for the two positions that were offered.

Goleman elaborated on what that means about the two PhDs who are chosen.

“By the time that the hiring committee has selected two people from hundreds of applications we are convinced that the fit is right and the desire is great. We are sure that the two people selected are going to be here in a very committed way and that it will be a mutually beneficial relationship.”

According to Goleman, the university gains a committed professional, the new PhD is provided work and the opportunity to learn to teach, to study it as one would any other field. Students get the benefit of learning from someone who is working very hard to get a good recommendation. In the case of post-doc hires, student reviews are particularly weighty.

Egle described how being post-doc affects the classroom dynamic.

“Being a post-doc gives me some liberties. I can play the rogue outsider. I feel like I can identify with my students because in a lot of ways I am a student.”

The English department has recently undergone an extensive Academic Quality and Development Review (AQUAD) and received praise for the development of a principled, well thought out teaching postdoctoral program that prepares new PhDs for teaching in urban public institutions.