No College Theatre Program is Worth a Shitty Professor


This is the time of year where many college students are either returning to their various theatre programs are beginning them. As someone who works in college education myself, I am well aware of what colleges should be doing to make their programs worthwhile for their students. 

However, employing shitty faculty members is far from one of them.

In my career, I've seen plenty of amazing professors who not only use their experience to train their students but also using their connections to help connect students with internships, agents, jobs, etc. 

I've seen faculty with open minds looking for new ways to teach their students as well as aggressively lobby their institutions for more resources to make sure they're prepared for ever-changing industries. 

I've seen faculty who serve as lifelong mentors for generations of theatrical professionals. To those professors, I can only say thank you. 

Then I've seen the opposite. I've seen faculty who could care less about how prepared their students are. I've seen faculty who take more glee at bringing down their students then encouraging them to get better. I've seen faculty who care more about their own egos than helping their students. I've seen faculty who have "checked out" who simply go through the motions to collect a paycheck or pad their retirement. I've seen faculty engage in actions from the unethical to the illegal. Professors, if this describes you, I find it a miracle you still have a job. 

Students, if your faculty is like this, get away from this program or school as fast as you can. 

So what causes faulty like this? A lot of factors. Much of the blame is on the faculty themselves. But I also put some blame on employment policies that protect and foster laziness rather than keeping faculty accountable for how they engage the classroom. And yes, in case there was any confusion, I'm talking about policies like tenure or permanency. 

While these programs can do good, I've also seen plenty of bad. No joke, a former colleague of mine who had tenure would literally come into the office, read the paper, take a 2-hour lunch, surf the internet and then go home. And all the college could do was transfer him from department to department. 

Now I don't think for a moment that every tenured educator does this. I'm sure it's rare. But it does happen. And for the students in their classes, it's more than just a waste of their time. 

College is more expensive than ever. It feels like choosing a major is more of a roll of the dice than an education. Given the stigma surrounding pursuing a career in the performing arts, colleges need to do everything they can to give their students the best training possible. And that means employing the very best faculty they can find. 

Students, you're entrusting these professors with four years and a lot of money to prepare you for the demands of the industries you want to join. You're there to work, they need to hold up their end of the bargain as well.