Help Your New Hires

(Originally published here on Inside Higher Ed.)

Dear department chairs and college deans,

Will new faculty members join your institution this fall? If so, you can do a handful of things that will help them transition. Much of the burden of figuring it out will fall squarely on them, but an accommodating and hospitable environment will not only help new faculty slide into their jobs effectively but will also ultimately better serve everyone. This is especially true if those individuals are first-time faculty members. Continue reading

A Week in the Life of an Assistant Professor

This year I transitioned from graduate school to the professoriate. I was one of the lucky few to get an increasingly rare tenure-track job in the Humanities. It’s been about six months since I started my new job, which has caused me to reflect on the transition and on how I spend my time. It probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me that, with a few exceptions, the demands post-PhD are harder to balance than the demands of graduate school. The economic precarity of graduate school may be behind me, but employment pre-tenure is still precarious and my time feels even more valuable. I’m sharing with you a few lessons-learned, to shed some light on how an assistant professor spends an average week. (The original version of this blog post is available at on Teaching Academia.) Continue reading

Teaching 2.0

(Originally published here on Inside Higher Ed.)

Congratulations! As junior professors, we’ve made it through the fall semester. Now it’s time to start thinking about adapting our teaching for next term.

If you feel your teaching during the fall term was lackluster, you aren’t alone; I admit that my teaching was something akin to survival mode. I had teaching experience when I started my job, but I had never juggled multiple courses, right after a move, while trying to get adjusted to a new environment and new professional relationships. Even before I received my teaching evaluations, I knew there was room for improvement, and my evaluations confirmed that suspicion. Our institution uses raw scores, so it’s difficult to know exactly what I should have done better. While the scores came back solidly in the “good” range, I’d like to see something more like “good/great” next term. Continue reading

“That New Hire Needs Your Help” — A Response

(This blog post was written in response to Jane S. Halonen and Dana S. Dunn’s Chronicle of Higher Education article, That New Hire Needs Your Help.)

I’d like to start off by thanking Professors Dunn and Halonen for their thoughtful and compassionate article, “That New Hire Needs Your Help.” I am a new hire in my department as of August and I’ll admit that when I saw this article pop up in my inbox, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that someone was concerned about my adjustment to my new job.

As they rightly point out, “sometimes the stakes are really low and the politics vicious.” In what follows, I would like to elaborate on this point and also contribute one or two points that I feel were missing from their list. I hope that my anecdotal evidence will prompt those of you who are concerned with the welfare of your new faculty to heed one or two of my requests. Continue reading

Am I Really Going Back on the Job Market?

When I got my current tenure-track job, I sighed with relief. Not only had I done the impossible, it meant I wouldn’t have to go back on the job market 6 months later. After applying to nearly 100 jobs and enduring two years worth of rejection, I was over it. Yet here I am…trolling the job list and considering applying to jobs again this year.

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On Mentorship

It’s early October, which for most people means that the semester is about halfway over. In some regards, it feels like the last 7-8 weeks flew by…but at the same time the next 7-8 weeks feel like an insurmountable hurdle.

A quick note on mental-state: I’m finding that this is the point at which I finally feel like I can come up for air, so to speak. My routine is established, my students feel familiar, I’ve reincorporated writing time back into my week, and the courses I’m teaching no longer feel haphazardly put together. That being said, the sentiment is coupled with what feels a lot like the end of the honeymoon phase in a new relationship. I’m becoming more aware of the tensions among colleagues that prevent things from getting done. I’m realizing that I don’t necessarily agree with the way faculty get evaluated across campus. My students are starting to get restless and bored with the material. So, I find myself wondering, how can I reboot the semester and make sure the second-half doesn’t feel lackluster compared to the first?

PRO-TIP: When the honeymoon phase ends, seek new connections on campus that can spark added enthusiasm. Find a mentor.

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