Paul Kei Matsuda

Job Opening: Director of ESOL at Bentley University

Advanced Assistant or Associate Professor of English/
Director, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Program

The English and Media Studies Department at Bentley University invites applications for a tenure-track advanced Assistant or Associate Professor to serve as ESOL director. We seek applicants with a record of publication and other scholarly activity in ESOL studies, excellence in teaching ESOL composition at the undergraduate level, and strong leadership, organizational, and interpersonal skills. A secondary specialty in applied linguistics, rhetoric, literature, film, communication or media studies is highly desirable. A Ph.D. is required at time of appointment in July 2013.

The ESOL director administers and teaches in the undergraduate ESOL expository writing program for fully matriculated international students, works closely with the ESOL Center director and faculty tutors, and oversees the coordinator for the ESOL graduate tutorials and seminars. Additional duties include recruiting adjunct ESOL writing faculty as needed, working with the director of expository writing to oversee the placement of all expository writing students each year, and meeting with representatives of the graduate school, international student offices, and career services to coordinate international undergraduate and graduate student academic support.  The ESOL director also serves as a resource for university faculty and staff and conducts workshops across the curriculum. This position presents an opportunity for leadership at the university level and potential for developing an English language institute program.

Applications must be submitted online at  Review will begin October 15, 2012. Please include cover letter, curriculum vitae, research statement, teaching philosophy, and three letters of reference.

As a leader in business education, Bentley’s mission is to create knowledge within and across business and the arts and sciences and to educate creative, ethical, and socially responsible organizational leaders. International students represent twelve percent of the undergraduate student population and twenty-four percent of the graduate population including the Ph.D. students. Bentley is an equal opportunity employer, building strength through diversity, and welcomes applications from members of under-represented groups. 

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Choosing a Ph.D. Program

I've been talking to various people who are interested in applying to Ph.D. programs. Here are some pieces of advice I keep giving out to help them choose an appropriate program for them.

1. Find out whether doctoral-level work is really for you. The doctorate is, first and foremost, a research degree that prepares people to become knowledge producers. It's not a glorified teacher certification program. (Teaching is an important part of professional preparation especially in my fields, but teaching proficiency or potential is a pre-requisite; training teachers is not the primary purpose of Ph.D. programs.)

2. Learn about the field you are getting into. It is important for a Ph.D. applicant to have a solid understanding of what the field is all about, what kind of research people have done and are currently doing, and what applications (if any) there may be. Familiarize yourself with some of the key ideas, terms and names in the field. Read widely and read a lot. (A master's degree in the same field is not always required, but even with a relevant degree, if you can't demonstrate a broad understanding of the field, getting accepted into a good program can be difficult.)

3. Know what your interests are. At least in the U.S. context, it's not always necessary for a beginning Ph.D. students to have a clear research program at the beginning of doctoral studies. A broad understanding and interest in the field as a whole and in a few areas of specialization would do.

Am I ever going to get to the question of how to choose a program? I know, I know. Be patient. It's not a quick and easy decision like picking the right avocado for making guacamole tonight. If you don't do your homework, you are going to regret it--big time.

4. Read more in the subfield in which you are particularly interested. In this process, you will familiarize yourself with key topics, issues and methodological approaches in association with particular names of authors who publish actively and are cited often. If you have a sense of who's who in the field, you are ready to look at specific programs.

5. Make a list of people whose work you find interesting--their topics, methodological approaches, and their arguments. Leave out people whose work you find incomprehensible or incompatible with your own orientation. (But read their work anyway until you understand what they are trying to say and why you find their perspectives incomprehensible or incompatible--so you can write a good response article, if you must. If you can't, there are different career paths available for you.) 

6. Go on line and find out where they teach. By now, you should be able to do this without looking up the information--from your reading of many of their recent publications. Find out whether they teach in doctoral programs and, if so, what kind of courses they teach, in what department, what other faculty members are teaching in the same program, what kind of courses are offered, what and how their graduate students seem to be doing in terms of presentations, publications, dissertation projects, and job placement.

7. Try to get to know these people. You might contact them by email. Be very polite, tactful, and to the point. If possible, state briefly why you are contacting that particular person. Don't ask any questions that can be answered by looking at the program/graduate school web site or by asking administrative assistants for the graduate program. Ask those questions that cannot be answered by anybody else. If possible, arrange a campus visit and meet with faculty members and graduate students in person.

8. Try to get to know the students of your prospective advisor. When you go to conferences (if you don't, then start going to conferences in the field), go to sessions presented by faculty and students from that institution. (If you can't find anyone from the institution at major conferences in the field, then you know what to do--move the institution to the bottom of the list. Or ask yourself if you are at the right conference. See how to choose the right kind of conference.) Tell them that you are interested in applying to their program and ask them to share their insights about the program, faculty members, financial support, and life in the program, at the university and in the area.

9. If a writing sample is required (as it usually is), choose one that demonstrates your broad understanding of the field and your analytical and research skills as well as the quality of writing. Remember: good writing is not complicated writing. Use keywords in the field, but don't use big words unnecessarily just to impress the admissions committee--they will easily see through it.

10. The statement of purpose or the "personal statement" should focus on your professonal aspirations, not the details of your personal lives. Admissions committee memebers couldn't care less about the close relationship you had with your dog when you were in elementary school--unless you are applying to a doctoral program in, say, animal psychology. The conventions and expectations may vary from program to program, but in general, include: why you are interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in the field (and perhaps what you hope to do in the future), what subfields you are interested in and, most important, why you are interested in the particular program (faculty, courses, quality of graduate student publications, etc.). You don't have to sell yourself too much--this is not a job application. Being a good student and colleague who will successfully and promptly complete the degree and become an active member of the field is sufficient.

Hope this helps. Good luck!

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Last update: January 6, 2008