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Washington State University
Dividend - Fall 2022 Graduate Education

PhD Corner

Director's Message

Photo by WSU Photo Services

“She is my favorite instructor at WSU. Please hire her!”

Such sentiments often appear in the course evaluations for our top PhD student instructors. This begs the question, “Why don’t we hire our own PhD students?” After all, the best ones are a known commodity that have already demonstrated effective engagement with WSU students. In the corporate world, for example, why would Microsoft train people to go work for Apple?

Academia is a different beast than the corporate world in many ways, including this issue. While cases certainly exist where hiring our own graduates makes sense, universities generally discourage it to avoid academic inbreeding and stagnation of creativity. When PhD students share their diverse research ideas at other universities, they drive thought innovation across academia.

PhD students introduce their own fresh backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives to an academic department. They combine this with state-of-the-art theory and methods learned to create new knowledge and brew some of the most innovative research ideas in their field. Additionally, students question established norms and bring fresh ideas that simply were never thought of previously.

Our PhD profile highlights Carlos Torres, who joined us from Colombia on a Fulbright scholarship. After 25 years in the IT industry, he earned his PhD in information systems and is researching ways to help companies stop cyberattacks, which are crippling companies worldwide. Torres has now brought all he knows to Texas at another Carnegie Research I university, Baylor.

We have other graduates cross-fertilizing across the country, from California to Connecticut and points in between. Meanwhile, we have recently hired faculty with fresh perspectives from such schools as Indiana University, Georgia Tech, Penn State, and the University of Missouri. Without this influx, older faculty like me might stagnate, and academia would be worse off. With it, we are changing the world, one idea at a time.

Chuck Munson,
Ph.D. Program Director