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Will Styler

Assistant Teaching Professor - UC San Diego

Will’s Teaching Professor FAQ

I’m an Assistant Teaching Professor here at UCSD. Lots of people aren’t sure what that means, and how we differ from ‘Ladder Rank’ series faculty (read: everybody else), so here are some answers to common questions:

What is a teaching professor?

‘Teaching series’ professors are academic senate faculty, just like all of the other ‘ladder-rank series’ faculty, and have the same rules, regulalations, and possibilities of tenure and advancement as any other assistant professor. We’re just hired specifically to focus on teaching and pedagogy, expanding the undergraduate course offerings of a department.

Can you get tenure?

I sure hope so! Assistant teaching professors have the ability to gain ‘security of employment’ (which, although titled differently for our series, is basically tenure), contingent on excellence in teaching, research, and service.

How are you different from the rest of the ‘ladder-rank’ professors?

The main differences are…

Is ‘Teaching professor’ like an adjunct, visiting professor, or lecturer?

No, in the UC System, teaching series faculty are full members of the academic senate, are generally voting faculty in their departments (as I am in mine), teaching a similar load every quarter, and have the possibility of advancement, tenure and sabbatical. Note that the ‘Lecturer with (possible) security of employment’ title confuses this matter, but we’re different from conventional ‘lecturers’

Do you get to teach graduate classes too?

Absolutely! Although our main focus is great undergraduate education, I do teach graduate classes as well, just a bit less frequently.

Can you supervise an Undergraduate Honors thesis or LIGN 199 Independent Study?

Absolutely! In this way, I’m no different from any other faculty member, and I’m happy to talk with you about your projects.

Can you serve on dissertation committees?

Absolutely. Just reach out to me and we’ll figure out if I’m a good fit.

Do you take on and advise graduate students? Do you chair dissertation committees?

I’m always happy to meet with any student in the department, providing advice, guidance, or help with specialized tools, and if we feel it would be a good fit, I would happily co-chair a dissertation committee with another faculty.

That said, I don’t generally take on students ‘of my own’, and to take on a student directly and serve as an advisor, I would need to get special approval from the university. This is very do-able, as it’s mostly to make sure that it won’t interfere with my teaching, but it does make the process a bit harder and more marked. Given my teaching load and my more limited opportunities to support you (as I don’t have a ‘lab’ to employ you as an RA), it’s likely better to have me as a co-chair or contributing member of your committee alongside one of my many excellent colleagues, rather than being your advisor directly.

This does mean that if you’re applying to UCSD specifically to work with me, you’ll want to reach out ahead of time to discuss your application, to see if I’m able to take on students, and to make sure it’d be a very good fit.

Can you ‘become’ a conventional, ladder-rank professor later in your career?

Teaching has always been one of my biggest passions, so the teaching track at UCSD is perfect for me, as it lets me focus on what I enjoy most. So, although it might be possible to switch tracks, it’s extremely rare, and I don’t think I’d want to anyways!

What is an ‘LPSOE’? ‘LSOE’? Is that you?

This is short for ‘Lecturer with Potential Security of Employment’, and is the official University of California system title for Assistant Teaching Professors like me. It is the teaching professor track equivalent of ‘Assistant Professor’, and once an LPSOE is granted tenure, becomes “Lecturer with Security of Employment”. It’s a silly name, and my preferred, working title is “Assistant Teaching Professor”, but on paper, I’m an LPSOE.