chapter  1
8 Pages

Introduction: The Professoriate, Collegiality, and Academic Culture

Outsiders to academic culture read or see images of professors portrayed in books and on screen. Whether they recall the shy, beloved, inspiring Mr. Chips or the scholarly but engrossed, absent-minded professor, they see stereotypes and linear tasks rather than the complicated, overlapping roles of a typical member of the collegium. On the fringes, we hear of the occasional eccentric, weird, mad scientist attempting to create a deadly virus that will destroy an entire society or his or her persistent counterpart who strives to devise the antidote to it. Media coverage depicted the professor for whom the stress of academic life became so overwhelming that she killed and wounded colleagues whom she believed blocked her tenure. An award-winning movie based on the life of John Nash illustrated the academic world of an asocial, disillusioned, obsessive, although Nobel Prize winning, professor (Howard, 2001). Professor Higgins used his fictional skills to illustrate how tutoring affects teaching and learning outcomes on a student, Eliza Doolittle. These familiar examples span the gamut of faculty stereotypes, but few truly or totally depict academic reality.