Book Reviews

Book by Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Charlotte V. Kuh
Review by Michael J. Magee 
Academic Advisor
College of Business Advising
Florida International University 


Ronald G. Ehrenberg of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute & Charlotte V. Kuh of the National Academy of Sciences have published several research articles regarding doctoral education in a comprehensive textbook entitled, Doctoral Education and Faculty of the Future. This insightful text analyzes the current state of graduate education in America and proposes solutions for increasing degree completion rates, increasing representation of minorities and women in doctoral programs, and recruiting undergraduate students to pursue doctoral degrees. The text analyzes research data regarding doctoral student enrollment, time to degree completion, and drop-out rates, as well as provides suggestions for improvements in doctoral education of the future. The majority of the chapters are dedicated to students pursuing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines, but the ideas discussed are applicable to students across all disciplines. 

The chapter that applies most to my current role as an undergraduate academic advisor is Chapter 6 – “Generating Doctoral Degree Candidates at a Liberal Arts College.” Although, I work at a large, state institution, many of the principles outlined in this chapter can be incorporated into all undergraduate advising models. The main premise of this chapter was that students who attend liberal arts colleges are more inclined to pursue graduate study. Authors of this chapter recommend that undergraduate advisors encourage students in various disciplines to consider pursuing graduate school and inform them about the opportunities not only in Education, but in other careers where terminal degrees are required for employment. 

Higher education news outlets have forecast a need for increased doctoral degree completion over the next decade if we are to replace faculty and senior level administrators as the Baby Boomer generation (currently 50 and older) prepare for retirement. In 2008, the Chronicle of Higher Education published a special report entitled “The Coming Wave of Retirements.” In an article within the report, Audrey Williams June noted that 68 percent of the 5,400 tenured faculty in North Carolina are 50 and older (¶ 4). This staggering statistic infers that in 15 years, nearly 3,600 faculty members in North Carolina will have retired or reached the national retirement age. The Ehrenberg & Kuh text thoroughly addresses the need to increase the number of doctoral degree recipients in preparation for replacing the numerous faculty and administrators preparing for retirement.  

Overall, this book is well-written; the research conducted is top-notch and this is an easy book to read. One does not have to work with doctoral students to gain knowledge from the text. As previously mentioned, the focus is centered around STEM programs, therefore, this text could be utilized as a comprehensive resource for advisors and faculty mentors who work with students in these disciplines. Faculty and graduate school advisors can use this book as a comprehensive resource for addressing issues of student dropout at the graduate level and for developing strategies to increase graduation rates. Overall, I strongly recommend this book for all advisors and wholeheartedly believe it should be added to their bookshelves. 

Reference:
Williams June, Audrey (June 13, 2008). U of North Carolina Let Professors Ease Their Way Into Retirement. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved June 8, 2009 from http://chronicle.com/weekly/v54/i40/40a01201.htm.
http://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/cup_detail.taf?ti_id=5269

Doctoral education and the faculty of the future. (2008). Book by Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Charlotte V. Kuh. Review by Michael J. Magee. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 320 pp. $35.00. ISBN: 978-0-8014-4543-9


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