Book by Victor N. Shaw
Review by Michelle Bombaugh
Visitation Coordinator, Office of Undergraduate Admissions
University of South Florida
Those seeking academic careers, specifically those pursuing teaching or professorate positions, face numerous challenges. They are experiencing the challenges that come with teaching college students and earning tenure. They are also facing the issues of funding and conducting research. Additionally, they are attempting to establish their professional identities within the institution, as well as in the professional academic community. In his book, In view of academic careers and career-making scholars: Innovative ideas for institutional reform, Victor Shaw poses a series of reforms that the academic community can implement to assist in the success of those pursuing academic careers.
One of the strengths of this book is the organization of content. Shaw breaks this book up into four main sections. The first chapter addresses academic career pathways and identifies stages that those pursuing academic careers typically experience. Chapters two through five explore the career process, which includes chapters concerning educational preparation, the job search process, professional networking, and placement at an institution. Chapters six through fifteen explain the various components of career structure, including publications, presentation, teaching, service, and tenure. The last chapter touches on scholarly identity as evidenced by the curriculum vitae.
Once readers get past the verbose introduction, this book reads easily. Part of this is due to the uniform structure that each chapter follows. The first section of each chapter addresses the background and analysis of the academic career component. In the second section, Shaw recommends five reforms to improve upon the focal issue. Within each reform, Shaw presents the current situation of the academic career component, poses ideas to improve upon the current situation, and emphasizes the impact and importance of such a reform.
Shaw uses this book as a vehicle to present eighty different reforms in the hopes that leaders of academic institutions and professional associations will read, understand, and implement these innovative ideas. Those who would most benefit from reading these reforms would be graduate school advisors, professors, academic association leaders, editors of professional publications, faculty chairs, grant and award committee members, and academic affairs administrators. Due to the organization of this book, to benefit from the ideas presented, readers would not need to read the entire book to glean the appropriate information; instead readers can focus on just the chapters pertaining to their situations.
Most of Shaw’s reform suggestions revolve around three main themes: clarification of standards, consolidation of information, and widespread advertisement of resources. Although there are some reforms that would be simple to implement, e.g., provide a week-long workshop on teaching for new faculty members (p. 100), others would prove more difficult as they are more global in nature, e.g., create a common grant market (p. 132). Shaw fails to present ways to implement reforms that are larger in scope. Who should take charge of these large-scale projects? What is the best way to make this information accessible?
Even though this book may not be a key resource in academic advising, it did open my eyes to the potential barriers and pitfalls that face those pursuing an academic career. Overall, I thought Shaw presented several key reforms that would be relatively easy to implement; thus, improving the experience of those pursuing academic careers.
In view of academic careers and career-making scholars: Innovative ideas for institutional reform. (2008) Book by Victor N. Shaw. Review by Michelle Bombaugh. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, 212 pp., $45.95 (paperback), ISBN 978-1-59311-885-3