The Alumni Association is honoring 26 NC State professors with the 2014 Faculty Awards for their outstanding work in the classroom, in the laboratory and in the field. We talked (via email) with some of the recipients about their work and the keys to being a successful professor.
Today we’re visiting with Audrey Jaeger, an associate professor of higher education and co-executive director of the National Initiative for Leadership and Institutional Effectiveness in the Department of Leadership, Policy and Adult Higher Education. Jaeger is one of four professors being recognized as a Distinguished Graduate Professor.
What prompted you to become a professor? While working as an administer at a university, I had the opportunity to teach a course. I realized after that experience, I wanted to continue to engage with students in the classroom. Helping students discover their talents and challenging them to reach higher than they ever expected energizes me and reminds me I have the best job in the world.
What are the keys to being a successful professor? Each student has a different story. Being a good professor means attempting to understand those stories and how they affect a student’s learning. Students bring with them a wealth of knowledge and experience — a good professor draws that information out and helps student capitalize on it.
In my role as a faculty member I work with graduate students, most of which are doctoral students. I believe that effective mentoring and guidance in the research and teaching process is extremely important to the disposition of early career researchers. I am committed to the development of graduate students throughout their careers; this extends well beyond their formal education. It is my responsibility to learn with and from students, and to create environments and conversations that capitalize on the generative nature of research.
What gives you the greatest satisfaction as a professor? In my work with doctoral students, one of the most joyous experiences is that of helping students through their dissertation process. At that moment when a student successfully defends her or his proposal, and I can call the student by their name and add Dr. to their title — there is nothing better. I have lead 21 students through this process and each has been amazing. To celebrate a student’s success gives me the greatest satisfaction.
I also have the pleasure of working with master’s students. Their success is often related to receiving their first job offer. Helping student negotiate the complexity of a job search that ends with a new adventure for them is incredibly rewarding.
In additional to celebrating the successes of students with whom I work, I gain satisfaction from my collaborative research endeavors with students and colleagues. I believe the collective product attained when individuals collaborate exceeds that which is attained in a singular fashion. Working with incredibly talented individuals to uncover new knowledge is truly a gift.