Academic Careers: Teaching at Liberal Arts Colleges


How are academic jobs at liberal arts colleges different from those at Research-1 institutions? What are some of the key differences in application materials? How do committee assignments, classroom obligations, and resarch responsibilities differ from other kinds of colleges and universities?

There's a lot of information out there about applying to jobs at Research-1 institutions. Join a panel of guest speakers for a conversation about the nuances that characterize the differences of life at a liberal arts college when compared to other kinds of academic jobs.


Elizabeth Majka, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Elmhurst College (PhD, Psychology). Liz completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology at Beloit College (WI) and went on to ultimately earn her PhD in Social Psychology at the University of Chicago. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Elmhurst College--a small liberal arts college in the suburbs of Chicago. Her research focuses on social connectedness, attitude strength, and facets of the self. She enjoys being at a liberal arts college where she can balance teaching, research, service, and family.

Lee Park, Associate Dean of the Faculty, Professor of Chemistry, Williams College (Ph.D., Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology) is interested in various aspects of molecular self-assembly. HIs major area of study is in the realm of organic solar cells: his lab is using various approaches to control the morphology that develops in the polymer blend layer (which is responsible for the absorption of light) in bulk heterojunction solar cells. Some approaches involve generating surface patterns (via microcontact printing, edge-spreading lithography…), while others involve derivatization of the parent polymers in order to promote self-assembly of the components of the polymer blend film into structures that will give rise to more efficient solar cells. Park is currently exploring the use of fluorocarbon-hydrocarbon interactions as a means of influencing the morphology that develops in the active layer. Another area of interest in the lab involves the design of new liquid crystalline materials, in which small discrete molecules form one-dimensionally aligned structures (which might find application as one-dimensional conductors for instance) due to various intermolecular interactions, such as hydrogen bonding or donor-acceptor interactions. Students in Park's lab do a combination of synthetic work, physical characterization of compounds prepared, and evaluation of those new materials in the context of actual working devices (solar cells).

Adam Miglio, Associate Professor of Archeology at Wheaton College (PhD'10 NELC) is interested in the history and archaeology of the regions from inland Syria and northern Iraq to the southern stretches of Palestine. In particular, he has treated Akkadian texts from the ancient capital city of Mari (Tell Hariri), which was centrally located along the Euphrates River and connected the Syrian mountains and Mediterranean coastland with southern Mesopotamia and the southern Levant. Mari flourished as a capital under its king Zimri-Lim from 1775– 1762, when Hammu-rabi of Babylon destroyed it. In addition to his research on the sources from Mari, Miglio has worked with material culture from the southern Levant. In particular, he has published artifacts from Tel Dothan, including Middle Bronze Age scarab stamp sealings and Iron Age alphabetic epigraphic artifacts. He continues to work with materials from this region, in particular, through work with the Tel Shimron Expedition.

Dan Wack (PhD'09, Philosophy) is Associate Professor of philosophy at Knox College. He works primarily in philosophy and film, aesthetics, and philosophy of action. His recent papers include "How Movies Do Philosophy" and "Wittgenstein's Critical Physiognomy".


Michael Reed, Vice President Institutional Initiatives Dickinson College (M.A. Howard University) joined the Dickinson community in September 2014. He serves as the chief diversity officer and is responsible for guiding and coordinating the institutional efforts to increase diversity, equity and inclusion. Reed served as vice president for strategic planning and institutional diversity at Williams College where he also held earlier positions in admissions and alumni relations. Prior to Williams, he operated a management consulting practice through his company, Consulting Works and also held several leadership positions with Programs for A Better Chance and INROADS working with talented minority youth. Reed received his M.A. in educational psychology from Howard University and completed the Institute for Educational Management at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.