January 11, 2012, 11:52 am
These days, academic departments are more likely to lose tenure-track faculty lines, than gain new ones. So it’s pretty easy to see why getting the green light to hire not one, but multiple, professors with plans for them to work together would generate a lot of excitement.
“Cluster hiring,” as it’s called, has become an increasingly popular way for an institution to build up a critical mass of scholars in interdisciplinary research areas and in disciplines it deems important. Cluster hires also help change a department’s culture and they serve as a recruitment and retention tool for potential faculty.
James B. Peterson knows all about cluster hiring’s allure. He is the new director of the Africana-studies program at Lehigh University — an institution which is in the midst of its own cluster-hiring initiative. Mr. Peterson’s position was the first hire in what will ultimately…
December 15, 2011, 11:18 am
What happens when an academic department steadily adds new professors to its ranks for about a decade? At the University at Buffalo members of the physics department have seen that kind of hiring spate revitalize research, teaching, and enrollment. And the department — which has hired more than a dozen physicists since 2000 — has crunched a bunch of numbers to prove it.
“The university made an investment in the department and the hires that we have made are paying off,” said Hong Luo, department chair.
For instance, Buffalo physics students and professors wrote 100 refereed papers in the 2010-11 academic year — five times more than the department produced five years earlier. The number of students who co-wrote academic papers almost tripled and the number of students who presented research at conferences increased five-fold, too.
The department also graduated 18 physics…
November 27, 2011, 9:29 pm
While doing the reporting for an article about negotiating academic job offers in a tight job market, I had an interesting conversation with Sara Laschever, an expert on how women approach such talks. Ms. Laschever wrote Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide with Linda Babcock, a professor of economics at Carnegie Mellon University. Although the book was first published eight years ago, it still resonates with women whose eyes it opened to the idea that avoiding negotiation literally doesn’t pay. For women on the academic job market now—actually, I bet some men on the market could benefit, too—here’s some of what Ms. Laschever shared with me:
What are some mistakes that women make in negotiations?
They over-identify with the other side. Women have this tendency to protect and take care of people. But you need to allow the other side to negotiate their side…
November 15, 2011, 9:02 pm
There’s been a whole lot of talk lately about advising at Beloit College—and not of the “I sure wish I didn’t have to do it” ilk. A task force has spent much of this year focused on how to push advising at the liberal-arts institution beyond the basics. In fact, one of the task force’s goals has been to introduce a culture change at Beloit to help professors think of the advising they do in a way that doesn’t boil down to how many students lined up each semester to get guidance from them on what courses to take next.
“When professors talk about their teaching, they go into detail about curriculum planning, the ways they engage students, or what students go on to do,” said Kathleen F. Greene, chair of the education and youth studies department and chair of the advising group. “What people do when it comes to advising isn’t articulated to the same degree. We’re trying to bring some of…
November 11, 2011, 12:07 pm
For years, academics have studied it. Plenty of faculty members want it. And many of them don’t know how to get it.
Yes, I’m talking about the ever-elusive work-life balance. It’s a perennial topic of discussion among many professors, particularly women. So it wasn’t surprising that attendees at the recent Purdue University Conference for Pre-Tenure Women had some frank conversations about how to manage their role as faculty member while trying to have a satisfying family life.
“Work-life balance permeated every discussion that we had,” said Beverly Davenport Sypher, vice provost for faculty affairs at Purdue. “We provided a space for women to feel safe to talk about the issue.”
The conference was officially billed as an event that would give the 100 or so attendees a blueprint for a successful tenure bid. And sessions that helped demystify the process did take place…
August 8, 2011, 6:28 pm
Scientists at the nation’s top research universities say the pressure-filled road to tenure— publishing, grant-writing, and long hours in the lab—keeps them from having as many children as they would like.
And according to a new study, “Scientists Want More Children,” women aren’t the only ones lamenting how their science career short-circuited their family plans. Men aren’t happy about it either. One-quarter of male scientists reported that they had fewer children than they wanted, and that had a more negative effect on their life satisfaction than it did for women, said Elaine H. Ecklund, an assistant professor of sociology at Rice University, who co-authored the study with Anne E. Lincoln, an assistant professor of sociology at Southern Methodist University.
“Men seemed to be harder hit than we thought by this reality” that science careers and family life often don’t mix,…
July 28, 2011, 2:25 pm
The long-running debate about how faculty members should be spending their time has been fueled by recent events in Texas, where the work habits of professors at research universities there are being scrutinized, lambasted, and even nicknamed. (More about dodgers, coasters, and sherpas later.)
So it’s not surprising that a recent article I wrote in The Chronicle on the various ways popular measures of faculty productivity can fall short has provided fodder for those pushing controversial reforms of higher education in the Lone Star State and elsewhere. Just this week, Pamela S. Gossin — a professor of arts and humanities at the University of Texas at Dallas who gave me a detailed (but not exhaustive) account of what she did over a seven-day period in mid-April — felt the brunt of that.
A blog post on mindingthecampus.com, which was largely a roundup of the latest happenings…
July 15, 2011, 12:32 pm
Some seasoned academics have no problem staying productive and engaged in faculty life during the latter years of their career. But there are some longtime professors who have burned out long ago — and it shows.
They’re the ones who can’t stomach another faculty meeting. They’re not interested in mentoring junior professors or students. And they can’t drum up the energy it takes to teach well or do research.
But for professors who are simply retiring in place, it appears that a little faculty development can go a long way.
“You hear a lot about support offered to junior faculty members, but the truth is faculty need support at all stages of their career,” says Kate Brinko, interim director of the Hubbard Center for Faculty Development at Appalachian State University. “For senior faculty there’s a finite amount of time left for them to accomplish what they want to…
June 23, 2011, 2:12 pm
Picture this: You’ve worked at the same university for years, you’re well-liked by your colleagues, and your career is humming along. Then one day someone offers you a job somewhere else. And at that moment, like many an ambitious academic, you’re faced with an age-old question: Should I stay or should I go?
Peter J. Hotez, an internationally-known expert in neglected tropical diseases, recently made the decision to go. After 11 years as a professor at George Washington University, he’s moving to Texas to be the founding dean of a new School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Hotez, who says such an institution is the first of its kind, will also be on staff at Texas Children’s Hospital, where he will lead a team of researchers in developing vaccines for diseases such as hookworm and others that affect the world’s poorest populations. He will start work in…
June 10, 2011, 1:12 pm
These days it’s easy for administrators and faculty members to pour all their energy into dealing with one budget crisis or another. But advocates for work-life balance in the academy say that colleges shouldn’t let the current economic climate waylay efforts to improve the work-life balance of faculty members.
“People ask me why are you talking about these family-friendly policies when we’re worried about jobs,” said Ann Higginbotham, a professor of history at Eastern Connecticut State University. “But we have to be optimists. We have to assume that we can continue to advocate for things to get better.”
Ms. Higginbotham was one of four panelists who presented a session on work-life balance, gender equity, and dual-career appointments at the American Association of University Professors’ annual meeting. The long and short of it all — backed up by research from the association’s…