Yesterday I attended a University of Michigan program that was meant to help faculty members who are transitioning from associate professor level to the full professor level. This was a very enlightening experience for me for many reasons:
1. They stressed that this was the last real promotion that you would get, so you no longer have to really impress people. You can decide what is important to you and do that. You don’t have to be a superstar in everything – you can concentrate in one thing. Or, you can do take chances. You don’t have to worry anymore. This is a very freeing thought and will take a while to actually digest.
2. Full professors are sort of in charge of many aspects of the department. For example, they often are in charge of promotion and tenure casebooks. This is a huge responsibility, and one that people should not take lightly. I feel the stress already.
3. Full professors can institute change. They are the ones who have nothing to lose, so they can push change and not have to worry about ramifications. Full professors have been there the longest, and newly appointed full professors have a long time to go. So, they have a lot to gain.
4. An important thing that was stressed is that we need to chose wisely what we want to invest our time in. We need to look at our lives holistically and figure out what we like and what we don’t. We need to make sure that the stuff that we don’t enjoy doing isn’t taking over our lives. This leads to discontent and eventually to being deadwood. The presenters stressed that we need to look at our lives and what we are interested and invested in.
5. It was stressed that we need to be advocates for higher education. If we don’t stress the importance of higher education, then who will?
My goal over the next few months is to try to figure out what it is that I really want to do with my academic life. One of the things that I would very much like to do is write every day. And that starts today.