Research, teaching, and service—most research universities evaluate their faculty based on these three criteria. Faculty members looking toward their next promotion fret over them, trying to make sure that they meet the standards in each category. Notre Dame uses these criteria as well, and as an assistant professor I do my fair share of fretting.
However, I have found something unique and refreshing about the way Notre Dame encourages faculty to pursue these three goals simultaneously. Here, we are asked to see these areas as being complementary to one another, and to pursue projects that combine them in a meaningful way.
I had the opportunity to participate in one such project two years ago. A local priest who works with the immigrant community in South Bend came to a colleague and me with a question: What impact do undocumented workers have on the South Bend economy? As scholars, my colleague and I thought this was an important question. We were awarded a grant from the Center for Social Concerns to fund the research, which we used to hire three undergraduate students to conduct surveys of the local immigrant population. We then helped them put together a balance sheet that described the transactions of the average immigrant, and found that the overall economic impact of immigration in South Bend was positive.
Last spring, when I was preparing materials for my annual review, I had a hard time figuring out where to list this project. It certainly qualified as research, since it was of interest to economists and resulted in a publication. I also knew that the university valued the teaching elements of the project—faculty are encouraged to involve undergraduates in research, and the three talented students that worked on this project gained research and analytical skills. Finally, the project provided a service to a local civic leader and strengthened Notre Dame’s ties to the community, qualifying it as service to my university, college, and department.
In the end, I listed the project under all three categories, knowing that the administration celebrates the multi-dimensional aspect of this kind of work.
And who doesn’t love a three-for-one deal?
Kasey Buckles is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics. Her research fields include labor economics and applied microeconometrics. She studies topics related to birth timing, such as seasonal patterns of childbirth and the relationship between fertility delay and career outcomes. She has also received funding from the National Science Foundation to support her work on the effects of policies that promote adoption for children in foster care. At Notre Dame, she primarily teaches undergraduate courses in econometrics and graduate labor economics. Buckles graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Kentucky in 2000, and earned her M.A. and Ph.D. from Boston University in 2003 and 2005.