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Professional Faculty Development: The Necessary Fourth Leg

The well-known three-legged stool of academic life—teaching, research, and service—has been assumed to cover the main responsibilities of faculty in academic communities. But is there a missing leg that would add strength and stability to the stool? I propose there is. It’s professional faculty development, and I would also propose that faculty committed to teaching should be its most articulate advocates.

Here’s a list of the reasons why professional development plays a critical role in the ongoing growth of teachers. Professional development does support all aspects of academic careers, but understanding its importance to teaching is my emphasis here.

During these times of very tight budgets, activities central to the success of teachers may be targeted for cuts. Professional development opportunities should not fall into that category, and those committed to teaching should be prepared with a set of reasons why.

Dr. Alan Altany is the director of the Center for Teaching, Learning and Scholarship at Georgia Southern University.

Reprinted from The Teaching Professor, 25.6 (2011): 5.