Businessmen Go Back To The Campus

While you're pondering over your children's school plans, how about your own? You can study at the local university nights - and you might even go back to the campus to teach. It's an idea.

Some businessmen are becoming teachers - at business schools, especially. From scores of different industries, hundreds of executive and professional types have turned to teaching in the last few years. Some merely lecture one night a week. But others hold down full professorships at graduate schools. Some put in their time at local night schools. But others are on the faculties teaching management and related courses at Harvard, Columbia, Carnegie Tech, the University of Reading, and Stanford. And the list of schools goes on - from Englsih school to Dennison (Ohio) to Pomona on the West Coast. Arjay Miller, former directorof the Ford Motor Co., is at Stanford these days, as dean of the graduate school of business.

These examples merely highlight and do not fully cover the still small, but certainly significant and increasing, flow of men from full-time executive jobs to full-time positions on the campus. What causes a man to make such a seemingly sharp switch in his career? Obviously, personal motivations, such as an individual's desire to make a thoughtful contribution in his field or his long-standing wish to be a teacher explain much of this movement from office to classroom.

But three other elements are making it easier for an executive to change from the practice of management to the teaching of its theories. There's a lot more compatibility between business and the classroom now than in past years. Classroom theory and business practice are closer. Moreover, the vast majority of executives hold degrees, and even if the degrees aren't PhDs, they help toward entry on a faculty.

school faculty members - particularly those in the business schools, of course - are no longer so remote from industry and the workings of the economy. Working executives and full-time business school professors often rub shoulders these days as members of the same corporate boards of directors. Kenneth Andrews, a well known professor at Harvard is a member of the board of Xerox.

school faculty salaries have climbed, too - and that's significant. Certainly they're still a long way below the usual salary of a corporate Director. But they're not the poor pittances they once were, and they match the money that many semi-retired businessmen might expect to make as business consultants. At most top schools, an assistant professor gets £12,000 to £15,000 or more, an associate about £17,000 or so, and a full professor £18,000 to £30,000 - frequently as much as £35,000.

Nor is the business school teacher kept isolated nowadays from some of the sweeter fruits of business. Many spend from 40 to 50 days a year as industrial consultants - earning, on the average, from £200 to £600 a day.

Most of the businessmen who have lately joined a school faculty full-time are between 45 and 50 years old. Some have made the move at 55, even at 60. And it's true that the academic career is relatively "ageless." Retirement age at Harvard, for example, is 66; at Columbia it's 68. And often a school won't adhere strictly to its official retirement age.

But don't get the idea that a man who turns to school teaching at 50 - after working hard in business to make himself financially secure - can expect to breeze along in an easy, noncompetitive atmosphere. True, the academic life brings more time for travel and study. But there's persistent pressure for academic standing - particularly for every faculty member to get his PhD, and to get his work published. And politics on the campus can be played just as bitterly as in the executive suite.

Of course, experience in business doesn't automatically fit a man to teach business courses. Many executives lack the craftsmanship needed for quality teaching and find it difficult to maintain the required attitude of constant sympathy for sharply differing opinions. Those who do best fall in two groups: the teacher at heart (who may even have had the PhD before entering business), and the school-minded businessman who has kept well abreast of academic trends and campus affairs.

One wise approach to a campus career - aside from the long process of earning a PhD, which takes a middle-aged man three to four years full-time and up to 10 years part-time - is to find a berth as a two-hour-a-week teacher. You can test your dedication conducting a one-session class. But don't underestimate the time involved in this. At a quality business school that uses some part-time faculty men - like Reading, Northwestern, Wharton, or London University - you can figure on at least three to four hours a week for non-classroom duties, plus reading time.

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