Thursday, February 4, 2010

wandering advisors

Usually I agree with FSP, but I've got a problem with her post from Monday. That is, when she says that if a grad student thinks that an advisor may be leaving,

" could ask your adviser a direct question about it. Either you will get a non-answer, in which case you should respect the fact that you don't have a right to know everything about your adviser's professional decisions despite the fact that they affect you, or you will get some information that will either be comforting or disconcerting."

Here's my issue, and it's one that several comments hammered away at: having your advisor leave is a really, really big deal. When a grad student's advisor leaves, it's a lot more than disconcerting. A grad student may have moved a significant distance, may be several years into a degree, and may have their entire income (such as it is) evaporate in the institutional confusion.

I'm not saying that professors shouldn't be allowed to move to greener pastures. But at least they should have the decency to make sure that they don't leave their students high and dry.

1 comment:

Cannibal Panda said...

I'm in agreement with you. Students are in a more vulnerable situation than an advisor is, and hence should be told upfront if there may be a possibility that an advisor may depart prior to their graduation. I feel if they take on a grad student, they have an obligation to said grad student to ensure that they are able to complete their studies unhindered. If a student applied to a certain school, they did so for a reason and hence a move may not be possible for them. I cannot imagine how costly and devastating it would be to have to transfer as a grad student.

Granted, Advisors have a right to look for work elsewhere, but they should plan it out to where they have as few grad students as possible prior to sending out "feelers" for a new job. IMO, if you are sending out "feelers" you are in the mindset to leave- to say anything contrary to that is simply deluding themselves.

It would be a different story if the department could guarantee that another advisor would pick up the ball dropped by the one leaving, but it appears they are entirely too proprietary with their "advising".