Preparing Future Faculty

About PFF

The Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) program at UNL is a professional development opportunity for advanced doctoral students interested in pursuing a faculty position.

Through PFF, participants learn about faculty roles and responsibilities (research/scholarship, teaching, service) and gain direct knowledge of the diversity of higher education institutions (large public research, liberal arts, comprehensive, private religious, etc.) through a structured mentoring experience with partner institution mentors. Those who complete the PFF program are better prepared for the academic job search and are more successful in their first faculty position.

PFF fellows are advanced doctoral students selected by procedures internal to each participating department. Once selected, Fellows are enrolled in GRDC 900A, 900B, and 900D (for a total of 3 credit hours), earning 2 credits for participation in an on-campus seminar offered during the summer pre-session. During the fall semester, each Fellow engages in structured mentoring activities at a partner campus with a faculty member in the Fellow's own discipline. The additional one credit is awarded at the end of the fall semester, after completion of the mentoring experience. Fellows may opt for a spring mentoring activity at a second campus.

PFF Fellows and their faculty mentors find the mentorship experience to be the most helpful and rewarding aspect of the program, and often they maintain lasting professional relationships with their PFF mentors.

Students, contact your department chair to express your interest in the PFF program.

For more information about PFF contact Dr. Debra Hope, Assoc. Vice Chancellor and Dean of Graduate Education.

What PFF Fellows have said about the program

"I enjoyed meeting with my mentor very much. He spent a lot of time discussing the tenure process and also sabbaticals. He strongly recommended that I try to get on a P&T committee if they have untenured members on the committee, as he did this and found the experience invaluable towards getting tenure. I enjoyed learning about how the budget works for a small liberal arts college and also how teaching loads are distributed amongst a small number of faculty members. I learned about the composition of the upper administration. Now, I have a much better idea of the roles of the university administrators."

"The faculty meeting was a valuable experience. It was helpful to see the inner workings of a department that is less than half the size of ours at UNL. Witnessing the recruitment process in action was also beneficial since it differs greatly from UNL."

"I now feel more confident in my job search and in what to expect when I begin my career. My main goal was to become more prepared to face the job search process. I am now confident that I will have decent cover letters, a teaching philosophy, and a research statement. I also feel better prepared to interview and obtain a job that will be a good fit for me."

PFF Annual Schedule


The Summer Seminar brings advanced graduate students from a variety of disciplines to interact with faculty from UNL and partner institutions to discuss hiring and tenure procedures, professional development, preparing for the job market, constructing research and teaching portfolios, new faculty experiences, the meaning of scholarship at various academic campuses, and challenges and opportunities for the university in the 21st century.

PFF Fellows will enroll in GRDC 900A, GRDC 900B, and GRDC 900D in a summer seminar.


During the fall semester, each Fellow engages in structured mentoring activities at a partner campus with a faculty member in the Fellow's own discipline.

PFF Fellows and mentors develop an agreement that establishes an individual series of activities during the semester to best acquaint the Fellow with the campus academic environment and mission.


Fellows may opt for a spring mentoring opportunity at a second campus. Spring placement is not a program requirement.


Typical mentoring activities may include:

  • Observing classes in the mentor's department
  • Practicing a mock job interview
  • Discussing PFF Fellow's vita, dossier, and cover letter
  • Arranging meetings with other faculty members to discuss academic life in the department and on the campus
  • Discussions with faculty, chairs, and administrators concerning tenure and promotion requirements
  • Shadowing a faculty member during a typical day
  • Attending departmental/division meetings
  • Participating in new faculty orientation/talk with faculty development folks
  • Visiting the teaching & learning center/campus life office/meet with college assessment officer
  • Delivering a research talk at a faculty/student colloquium
  • Discussing/participating in curriculum development
  • Visiting with faculty/administrators working with instructional technology and/or the delivery of distance education
  • Visiting with representative from faculty senate and/or union representative
  • Meeting with minority faculty members
  • Talking with undergraduates about the experience of graduate school or assisting the department at the university's graduate school fair
  • Touring lab/clinical/computer facilities

This list is not meant to exclude other activities that PFF Fellows and faculty mentors may find useful. Also, we understand that a single semester provides time enough for engaging in only a subset of these suggested activities.

Partner Institutions

Collaboration with partner institutions, diverse in their missions and their student bodies, is essential to the PFF program. The involvement of faculty members from these settings makes it possible for postdocs and graduate students to experience first-hand what it's like to be a professor in one or several of the educational settings where graduates are likely to get jobs.

Mentors from partner institutions help PFF Fellows learn about their campuses by inviting them to attend faculty orientations or departmental meetings, asking them to teach a class or a unit of a course, explaining the process for achieving tenure at their institutions, and a host of other mentoring experiences.

Descriptions of past partner institutions:

College of Saint Mary, a private Catholic college affiliated with the Sisters of Mercy, is dedicated to the education of women in an environment that calls forth potential and fosters leadership. Approximately 1,000 students come from all regions of the U.S. and several countries. College of Saint Mary education integrates a liberal arts core, practical learning opportunities, career-specific skills, community leadership and service. Carnegie Classification: Baccalaureate Colleges—Diverse Fields

At Concordia University, you'll find about 60 percent of nearly 1,200 students are from 43 states other than Nebraska as well as from five countries. Owned and operated by The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Concordia University is located in Seward, NE. Concordia has since grown into a fully accredited, coeducational university that has granted degrees to more than 20,000 students. Concordia was ranked in the top tier of the Midwest colleges in the Midwest Region of best baccalaureate colleges category in U.S. News and World Report's rankings. Concordia's student/faculty ratio is 14:1. Carnegie Classification: Baccalaureate Colleges—Diverse Fields

Creighton University, one of 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the nation, enrolls more than 6,700 students of diverse faiths and races annually in nine schools and colleges, including medicine, dentistry, and law. Creighton, located in Omaha, Nebraska, is consistently ranked as one of the finest comprehensive universities in the nation by U.S. News and World Report and regularly appears in Best Buys in American Colleges. Carnegie Classification: Master's Colleges and Universities I (Private)

Doane College, located in Crete, Nebraska, (approximately 25 miles from Lincoln) is the oldest four-year, private liberal arts institution in Nebraska. Founded in 1872 by Thomas Doane, chief civil engineer of the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad, and the Congregationalists, Doane College's 300-acre residential campus in Crete has an enrollment of approximately 1,000 residential students, 750 students in Doane's adult education program in Lincoln, and an additional 1,200 graduate students. Carnegie Classification: Baccalaureate Colleges—Arts and Sciences

Hastings College, located in Hastings, NE, is a private, undergraduate, four-year, residential liberal arts college, affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. Student-to-teacher ratio is just 12 to 1; 85% of the faculty are full time; and 89% of tenured or tenure track faculty have terminal degrees. The student body of approximately 1,190 represents 23 states and six foreign countries. Of the freshmen enrolled in 2005, 37 percent were in the top 25 percent of their high school class and had an average ACT score of 23. Carnegie Classification: Baccalaureate Colleges—Arts and Sciences

Metropolitan Community College, located in Omaha, NE, is a comprehensive, full-service, public community college that offers affordable and quality education. Founded in 1974, Metropolitan Community College has the largest enrollment out of six community colleges in Nebraska and is the 10 third largest post-secondary institution in the state. The College serves annually more than 27,000 credit students and almost 20,000 students in continuing education courses. The College offers 120 career options in business administration, computer and office technologies, food arts and management, industrial and construction technologies, nursing and allied health, social sciences and services, visual and electronic technologies and academic transfer. Carnegie Classification: Associate College

Nebraska Wesleyan University, founded in 1887 by the Nebraska Methodists, is comprised of 1600 students and 300 faculty and staff committed to the values and traditions inherent to a liberal arts education. The average class size of 18 with most upper-level classes under 14. Nebraska Wesleyan boasts curricula and programs designed to assist students in gaining and expanding knowledge and skills, in developing their competence in rational thought and communication, in broadening their perspectives on humanity and culture, and in enhancing their spiritual, physical, emotional and aesthetic resources. Carnegie Classification: Baccalaureate Colleges—Arts and Sciences

The University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) is Nebraska's public, residential university that is distinguished by a commitment to excellence in undergraduate education. A mid-sized, comprehensive university, it is especially noted for small classes, a scholarly faculty devoted to teaching students first, and an enviable location in a thriving regional population center. More than 170 undergraduate degree options and over 20 pre-professional programs are available, as well as 45 graduate programs offered by 15 departments in education, business, fine arts and humanities, and the natural and social sciences. UNK enrolls approximately 6,500 students from 42 countries, 45 states and from all 93 counties in Nebraska. A general studies program provides each undergraduate student broad familiarity with diverse academic disciplines. The full-time faculty numbers over 300, and 90% have terminal degrees in their specialties. Carnegie Classification: Master's Colleges and Universities (medium programs)

The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is located in Omaha and is the state's only metropolitan university. It offers nearly 200 programs of study in a learning environment that features the best of both worlds — a small-school atmosphere within a thriving city where internship, employment and entertainment opportunities are plentiful. Nearly 15, 000, including more than 700 international students, attend UNO each year. Carnegie Classification: Master's Colleges and Universities (larger programs)

The University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), a major unit of the University of Nebraska, serves the State through its programs in health professions education, research, patient care and community service. Undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree programs prepare students for a wide variety of careers in health sciences. The main campus in Omaha is home to 900 undergraduate and 1,700 graduate and professional students. The health professions programs of the University of Nebraska Medical Center have a major responsibility for educating dentists, nurses, pharmacists, physicians and allied health professionals in Nebraska. In addition, research-oriented educational activities leading to the M.S. or Ph.D. degree are conducted through departmental, interdepartmental and college programs. Students who complete these advanced studies will be prepared to pursue careers in research and teaching.