Public liberal arts colleges are higher education’s gems, yet their intimate campus settings and locations outside of the intellectual-cultural capitals challenge the traditional rhythm of academic careers. Professors trained at elite research institutions, usually located in large urban centers, must adapt to the holistic undergraduate education emphasized at colleges often located in smaller communities. The authors in this collection serve as pathfinders and exemplars for academic careers that integrate teaching, scholarship, and citizenship, rooted in place. Their stories demonstrate that the noblest traditions of higher education might be lived out most meaningfully on small, liberal arts campuses.
The essays in this volume paint a realistic portrait of the life of the faculty in public arts colleges in the twenty-first century, with all of its inherent joys and trials. They also illustrate the dilemma of the young PhD: Follow in the footsteps of the graduate mentor or seek—or at least accept—a divergent path. An excellent case is made for the latter, and an equally strong case for the significance of the public liberal arts professoriate—and the institutions it serves.
—Julius Erlenbach, Chancellor Emeritus,
University of Wisconsin–Superior
Roads Taken offers important insights into professorial lives and careers. Faculty from various disciplines seek to define the challenges, rewards, and idiosyncrasies of professing the liberal arts within the public sphere in essays that are candid and revealing about the career paths they have followed. This is a valuable book for readers at any point in a life of college teaching.
—Samuel Schuman, author of Old Main