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Does Barry Need Younger Professors?

By Nicole Valdes

As with most universities offering a 21st century education, Barry offers students technologically advanced degree programs like digital marketing, graphic design, broadcasting and media and computer science. Due to our effort to keep up with the emerging global trends in their field, students have inquired about Barry’s faculty hiring measures.

The question is: does Barry really need younger professors to keep up? Let’s look at the factors that can help provide a better answer.

There are currently over 900 faculty members who are employed at Barry University.

This semester, Barry University honored about 30 faculty and staff members who have served the university for 20, 25, 30 and 45 years.

Image Credit to Inside Higher Ed

Apparently, job security for professors is an important factor. Most are working toward something called tenure.

Tenure guarantees permanent employment for a professor which means a salary bump, a steady paycheck, freedom from firing without serious cause and an institution that supports them in research and study.

It normally takes 13 years to receive tenure as a professor. So, the longer you stay on as a professor, the better for you in your career.

According to the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America-College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF), a financial service company in the United States, 60 percent of professors in the country plan to work past the age of 70 and 15 percent of professors tend to stay until they are 80.

According to facts provided by Barry’s Institutional Research, a total of 19 professors were tenured in 2018 as well as eight associate and assistant professors. This was out of a total of 310 professors who worked full time by academic rank and contract type.

But can tenured professors keep up with digital trends?

Most of the 2020 faculty honored for career longevity at Barry instruct within the sciences and humanities and not in any of the contemporary disciplines that require up-to-the-minute information.

Although technology is constantly changing, according to a Science Daily scientific report, older professors can actually adapt to the changes in their fields of expertise better than younger professors can.

Students value the experience that older professors bring to the discipline even though they see that young professors have a relatability appeal with students.

Photo Credit to Cindy Luc

Junior broadcasting and media student Roy Lewis felt caught in the middle.

As a student who must work at the David Brinkley Studio creating production television programming, Lewis believes that working behind the scenes involves a lot of technical knowledge.

“Older professors that teach at Barry have many years of experience and are able to connect with students on an educational level,” says Lewis. “There are many buttons and switches that one has to use correctly in order to manage the cameras and productions.”

He finally decided that the age of the professor doesn’t matter.

“What matters is the experience they’ve had within the exposure of working with professional cameras and equipment,” said Lewis.

On the other hand, at Barry, there are several technological applications that professors use to teach their students how to edit, one of the main ones being Adobe. Adobe is an American multinational computer software that started in 1982. Every year, the company updates the software to accommodate changes in the creative world.

Graphic design junior Jerrayah Dawson uses the Adobe Creative Suite in her major but puts a professor’s experience above their advanced knowledge of new-fangled technology.

“Experience puts you above other people,” said Dawson. “No one is going to hire you fresh out the market without experience.”

But Dawson also agrees that it is a benefit to have a mixture of younger and older professors because the lessons that both types of professors give are valuable.

Students like Lewis and Dawson believe that older professors should not stop teaching because the older a professor is, the more the students learn from their experience.

Political Science Professor Jacob Ausderan is a young professor at Barry who earned his PhD at Tulane University and spent four years teaching at Arkansas State University before arriving at Barry in the fall of 2018.

“At 34 years old, I would say I'm not the youngest professor here, but I’m probably among the youngest 20 percent,” said Ausderan.

He claims that being a strong faculty member has less to do with age but “a good professor is someone who is knowledgeable, passionate about their subject and passionate about teaching.”

For Ausderan, he – just like most professional academics – is also seeking longevity at his post. He stated that he will be doing this job until the day he retires and hopes to remain at Barry University until that day comes.

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