Much Higher Learning

Exploring the benefits of an academic career

“What I enjoyed the most [at the bank] was developing my employees–training them and watching them move from level to level. I had more passion for the teaching element of management than for building revenues,” explains Patricia Hewlin of her decision to go back to school full time in 1998. Last year, 36-year-old Hewlin, a former vice president and branch manager of Citibank in New York City, received a doctorate degree in business administration with encouragement and assistance from the PhD Project (www.phdproject.com).

The organization, which attempts to increase the diversity of business school faculty by steering minorities into doctoral programs, operates on a yearly budget of $1.8 million and receives contributions from a number of corporations.

Currently in her first year as a professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, Hewlin has become a part of the growing number of minority faculty in the 1,200 colleges and universities that teach business in the U.S. The number of minority faculty has risen from 294 to 691 over the past 10 years. More than 400 graduates have completed the PhD Project since its 1994 inception.

Similarly, The Northeast Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate, a five-year, $5 million project funded by the National Science Foundation and headed by the University of Massachusetts, aims to attract minorities to doctoral programs in math, science, and engineering (www.umass.edu/gradschool/AGEP/).

In 2000, only 1,604 African Americans received doctoral degrees–approximately 6% of the total doctoral degrees awarded at the time. Black women earn about 63% of all doctorates awarded to African Americans. The number of blacks earning doctorates, however, has more than doubled since 1987.

“There are more African American students now than I saw 37 years ago, but not as many as I’d like to see,” says Nicholas Cohen, professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, and one of the authors of The Ph.D. Process: A Student’s Guide to Graduate School in the Sciences (Oxford University Press; $18.95). Cohen notes that few African American undergraduates are actually interested in graduate education in the biological sciences.

Compensation is also an issue. “People think that professors take a vow of poverty and that’s simply not true,” states Bernie Milano, president of the KPMG Foundation in Montvale, New Jersey, and founder of the PhD Project. “Professors in the school of medicine, dentistry, engineering, or business–the professional schools–are handsomely compensated, because the external market is always there for them,” says Milano. For example, a professor teaching finance can make, on the high end, $160,000.

Hewlin earned six figures from the three months of classes she taught last spring, independent research she conducted last fall, and the partial salary that she receives during the summer months. The typical starting salary for those with a Ph.D. in all business disciplines is approximately $98,000 for a nine-month contract.

“You’re not going to make millions, but you can live very comfortably,” says Jonathan Karp, associate professor of biology at Rider University and co-author of The Ph.D. Process. “Chances are you’ll never

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