I always enjoy WSU alumni events where former Cougs gather to reminisce and support the university. Carson College of Business PhD graduates often maintain especially strong connections not only with their classmates, but their faculty members as well. A student’s “academic family” is formed during the PhD years and often remains tight throughout his or her career.
Graduates often continue to publish papers with their dissertation chair and other Carson College faculty long after they leave the program. Some of these papers are continuations of research started here, while others are brand new initiatives. Such collaborations, especially early in a graduate’s career, can greatly enhance prospects of earning tenure. As junior faculty members, our graduates are expected to begin developing their own independence from their PhD advisors; nevertheless, a steady flow of collaboration can significantly increase their research output.
Professional relationships are maintained in a variety of other ways. Annual academic conferences represent a great way to reconnect with alumni. In fact, seeing former doctoral students has become my single favorite part of attending such events. In recent years, we have had several WSU reunion meals, which have even brought different “generations” of graduates together. These connections can lead to tangible outcomes, such as referring students to each other’s programs, providing recommendation letters for job applications, obtaining editorial assistance, and sharing teaching ideas and resources. Once faculty like me get old enough, we even talk about “academic grandchildren,” i.e., the PhD student of my PhD student.
For many parents with children, the emphasis over the years shifts from caring less about themselves to caring more about their kids. I have found the same to be true with my “academic children.” I find most of my research efforts are now geared toward helping current students with their research projects and helping former students continue to publish. I actually haven’t started my own research project in a number of years—and that suits me just fine. At this point, seeing them succeed brings me much more satisfaction.
While I feel strongly about the several thousand Coug alumni whom I have had the privilege to teach over the years, PhD graduates hold a special place in my heart. I can’t wait until our next post-pandemic live conference to see them again!
PhD Program Director