Attack on the AHA Couldn’t Be More Wrong

tags: AHA, history, higher education, academia, History Profession

Joy Connolly is the Interim President of The Graduate Center, CUNY and the Incoming President of the American Council of Learned Societies.

To the Editor:

In the course of arguing against doctoral students’ best interests, Daniel Bessner and Michael Brenes (“A Moral Stain on the Profession,” The Chronicle Review, April 26) invoke tired stereotypes about the academy and work outside it. They claim the American Historical Association is immoral for supporting programs that equip graduate students with the skills to navigate the world post-Ph.D. They couldn’t be more wrong.

As interim President of a large public graduate school, I believe passionately in providing education that empowers students to make the most of their lives, whether or not they pursue careers in the academy. Last year the Mellon Foundation funded our effort to transform doctoral education on this principle: an education that prepares students for work outside academia will also improve their chances for success inside it.

Most students start with the aim of becoming professors. But many grow curious about other careers along the way, and some choose to follow other paths. This is a choice academics should respect. Also, in the best of times, the number of academic jobs available will always be fewer than the number of students graduating each year. Do we want to cut access just when we are beginning to recruit diverse students in meaningful numbers? No. We must keep our doors open and shoulder our responsibility to prepare students for more than one path.

Read entire article at Chronicle of Higher Education

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