Posts Tagged ‘Academic Jobs’

As I’ve noted before, as a tenure-track professor it can be very difficult to maintain a publication record that is higher than necessary for your institution. Whatever your own goals, the expectations of your institution are probably adjusted to account for teaching and service loads but the norms of your colleagues can also affect your productivity. Years ago, I noted that in the current academic climate of budget cuts publications are not only necessary for tenure and promotion but are also necessary to allow you to get another job if something happens to your current one. Of course, publishing more than you need to is easier said than done.

With the recent news of Sweet Briar College’s closing, a lot of faculty members are finding themselves in this position. As noted in The Atlantic:

Mid-career faculty at the school, including many revered professors who’ve devoted their lives to education, will likely have a tough time finding similar positions at other college institutions. As many higher-education experts will attest (and as I have witnessed in my own experience), these institutions typically prefer to hire junior faculty who have well-adorned resumes and are fresh out of prestigious graduate schools but are less expensive and willing to commit to a job for decades. With what are often hundreds of applicants for every opening, schools can be picky.

One faculty member was close to tenure and feeling confident. Now she is faced with starting over (as are the college’s staff members). Good luck to the faculty and staff of Sweet Briar College and to everybody else who will find themselves in similar situations in the coming months and years.

“Like” Memoirs of a SLACer on Facebook to receive updates and links via your news feed. Unfortunately, I don’t know of any job openings.

Read Full Post »

After accepting positions at teaching-intensive universities, many are stunned by the direction their careers take and how academic roles are shaped by the institutions. Working for an Ivy League institution or a big state research university would also shape careers and lives, but new faculty members don’t anticipate the consequences of working for the “lower-tier,” “open-admissions” universities and colleges that pick them up fresh out of graduate school.  (Inside Higher Ed)

Cautionary tales such as this highlight the importance of finding an institution that matches your professional goals.  Unfortunately, the current state of the job market means that those who apply broadly and are lucky enough to receive job offers may not find a perfect match on their first attempt (this may also mean that advisers who push candidates to apply broadly are doing them a disservice).

So far, the job I received at a SLAC as the result of a more specific approach has met my expectations.  Despite this, there are aspects of my grad school days that I miss (beyond having large numbers of fellow students who are eager to grab a drink on a warm spring evening).  One thing that I recently realized that I miss are the various colloquia.  Although my coworkers are all involved in research of one sort or another, the members of a small department cannot be active enough in this area to support frequent discussions of original work.  In the R1 department where I attended grad school, on the other hand, there were several weekly colloquia on various topics in addition to occasional invited speakers.  At the school level there are still numerous outside speakers and events that I have attended as often as possible, but these occasions merely remind me of the days when it was all sociology, all the time.

Read Full Post »

Last semester I worked an average of 47.72 hours per week (50.34 hours when not counting weeks that included breaks of some sort).  Although I did not keep track of my work habits during graduate school, I am pretty confident that I have shattered all personal records for academic productivity.  This total included an average of 41.88 hours in my office and 5.84 hours at home (damn those MWF classes!).  On a typical day I arrived at my office around 7:30 and left around 4:30, with most of my work at home coming on weekends.

One of the joys of academic life is the flexibility to work when you want.  Given my problems with procrastination, this flexibility has also allowed me to go long periods of time without doing much work of any sort.  When working on my dissertation at home last year, this posed some problems.  As a result, I told myself that when I had my own office I would take full advantage of the opportunity afforded by a space with no couch on which to nap.  Now that I’ve had my own office for over six months, I can report that conforming to a regular work schedule has allowed me to be productive without constantly worrying about what else I have to do.  When I go home for the day, I am generally done working for the evening.

Of course, I could be doing more.  I reported last semester, for example, that nearly all of my time was taken up by my teaching duties.  I could have placed five or ten hours of research on top of my other work but this would have also caused me to not be home in time to help my wife prepare for dinner or to give up an hour of mental relaxation while watching TV in the evening.  At this point, all signs indicate that I can earn tenure by completing most of my research duties in the summer and winter breaks and focus on teaching and service when class is in session.  As I learned over winter break when preparing my ASA submission, however, I need to approach research with the same rigid schedule.  Some people may become academics to avoid punching the clock.  For me it is essential.

Read Full Post »

Just about anybody who was on the job market last year, and especially anybody on the job market this year, can tell you that getting an academic job is hard.  If getting one academic job is hard, the prospect of getting two jobs in the same area (referred to as the two-body problem) appears to be exponentially harder.  My purpose is not to downplay the difficulty of finding two jobs in the same area or at the same institution.  Rather, I want to bring attention to the plight of the trailing partner.

Long ago (over a month and a half!) when I discussed the emptiness of a new location, I concluded by noting that this time I did not have to face the emptiness alone.  Enter the trailing partner.  In my case, as in countless others through the history of academia,  the trailing partner is a wife.  Although I tell myself that I would be happy to earn less money or stay at home full time, the fact is that I do not and I do not.  Years ago, I went to graduate school and my girlfriend eventually followed.  Then I got a job and my wife (the same person, despite the change in marital status) followed again.

For her, neither transition was easy.  No matter how hard the transition is for a leading partner, the fact that you are in control of your own future is comforting.  Trailing partners get no such comfort, despite efforts to include them in the decision-making process (my wife had veto power over the locations of the jobs I applied for and visited our current area with me before I accepted).  The fact is that the job market is difficult for everybody right now, making the prospect of leaving a job and a familiar place for the uncertainty of the new especially daunting.  Luckily, my wife was able to find a job more quickly than we anticipated, giving her a reason for being in this strange new place other than the noble but unfulfilling role of supporting my new career.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any answers regarding how couples can jointly make a decision that is determined by the job prospects of only one.  For now, I am glad that things have worked out as well as they have.  My only advice is that if you find yourself with a partner who is willing to move across the country, leaving everything and everyone he or she knows, so that you can accept an academic position, be grateful.

Read Full Post »