Skip to content Skip to navigation

Reflections on Twelve Years of Tomorrow\'s Professor eNewsletter

Tomorrow's Academy

Message Number: 
1000

I also claimed we had subscribers in countries from A to Z.  Then one day my student assistant rushed in and said; \"We just lost Zimbabwe\"!  Apparently the one subscriber in Zimbabwe had for some reason unsubscribed.  I said: \"We have to get him back or find someone else at the University of Zimbabwe or try Zambia, we have to do something! 

 

Folks:

 

As you can see from the Subject line above this is the ONE THOUSANDTHS posting of the biweekly Tomorrow's Professor eNewsletter and as such I thought it would be worth a few minutes to reflect on what has happened over the last 12 years.  As some of you know the eNewsletter began in March 1998 as a response to the many inquiries I was receiving from my 1997 book, Tomorrow's Professor: Preparing for an Academic Career in Science and Engineering.* While the book focused on science and engineering academic careers, from the start the eNewsletter sought to reach across the disciplines and up and down the hierarchy from graduate students to postdocs to junior and senior professors to college and university administrators as well as interested professionals outside academia.

 

Today the eNewsletter has almost 35,000 subscribers at almost 1,000 institutions at over 100 countries around the world. I can even claim that there are subscribers on all seven continents.  While I'm not really sure there are subscribers in Antarctica (please let me know if you're there), I used to get e-mails from a subscriber who claimed to be president of Antarctica University and so I thought the all-continents claim was not too big a stretch.  I also claimed we had subscribers in countries from A to Z.  Then one day my student assistant rushed in and said; \"We just lost Zimbabwe\"!  Apparently the one subscriber in Zimbabwe had for some reason unsubscribed.  I said: \"We have to get him back or find someone else at the University of Zimbabwe or try Zambia, we have do something!\" I'm pleased to say that we now have subscribers from both Zambia and Zimbabwe.

 

The goal of the eNewsletter, \"desk-top faculty development, one hundred times per year,\" is achieved through the posting of what I hope are provocative and practical material on current issues and problems in academia as well as insights on how to prepare for, find, and succeed at careers in teaching, research, and service in higher education.

 

The majority of the postings consist of excerpts that I chose from books and journals provided on a complementary basis by a number of higher education publishers.  Currently, almost 50 journals, magazines, and book publishers provide material for this purpose.

 

Subscriber surveys over the years suggest that the following elements contribute significantly to the eNewsletter's value and popularity:

 

* It is \"pushed\" at subscribers via e-mail messages, rather than requiring subscribers to  \"pull\" postings from

  a website.

* Each posting is brief (1,000-2000 words) and self-contained.

* Postings are limited to two per week.

* Postings contain interesting, practical, and/or provocative material.

* Follow-up sites for additional information are available.

* The eNewsletter website (http://ctl.stanford.edu/Tomprof/index.shtml) contains an archive of all previous

  postings sorted by category.

* Subscribers obtain information that is not widely known among their colleagues.

 

Producing the eNewlsetter over these last dozen years has been a real joy for me.  I have met and interacted with hundreds of people as a result and many cases have formed new friendships and professional colleagues.  I also want to be sure to thank Stanford University, particularly the Stanford Center for Teaching and Learning, for its encouragement and support.

 

As we move forward I want to be careful not to \"mess with success.\"  While it is of course always true that there are things about the existing eNewsletter that can be improved, and I welcome your suggestions in this regard, I think the major effort going forward should be to increase the subscriber base, particularly outside North America and Europe.  There are millions of English speaking/understanding graduate students and faculty around the world who could benefit from these free postings and any suggestions on how we might reach more of them would be most welcome.

 

Warmest regards,

 

Rick Reis

reis@stanford.edu

UP NEXT:  Plagiarism and Assignments That Discourage It

 

* Reis, Richard M. Tomorrow's Professor: Preparing for Academic Careers in Science and Engineering, IEEE Press