Monday, June 6, 2016

The March toward Full: Admin Positions and the Associate Professor

Academic administration for many is a form of service. Yes, for some people it is a calling, but for many of us, it is a role that we often step into (and out of) in order to be of service to our universities and/or professions.

This may be especially true for faculty in the professional disciplines, some of whom have administrative practice experience while working "in the field." This was true for me as a social worker, and is equally true for nursing, teacher ed, public health, business and many other scholars from the practice world.

For us, practice and service feels "natural." For many faculty in professional disciplines, the role of scholar is one that feels less than natural, less than normal, and is one in which people often did not get enough practical training for success. Academic writing can be challenging to many, and for some, downright painful. Too few scholars in all disciplines, but perhaps especially in the professional fields, receive training in writing productivity, process goal setting, and learn how to develop rituals to sustain them over the long haul. Too often, once the threat of tenure no longer looms, and one steps into an administrative position, writing is the first thing that goes.

This creates multiple dilemmas for associate professors, even those who wish to stay in administrative positions. Faculty and other administrators are frequently ambivalent about associate professors moving up the academic hierarchy (or staying in their positions), for some troubling reasons, but for some important practical and philosophical ones as well.

So, what this means, is that YOU, associate professor department chair/division head/ associate dean, ect, need to work on a scholarly plan which includes your developing the requisite skills for scholarly success. What it also means is that you need to make a decision to create some space, mental, metaphorical, and temporal, for dedication to your writing and scholarship.

If you are an associate professor/administrator and have not written for a while, try to do some freewriting on the following questions..

1) What do I truly wish to write about, if I were motivated to to do so?

2) What skills do I lack to be successful as a scholar?

3) What are my personal blocks and barriers to reentering writing?

4) What help and supports do I need?

Notice, I do not address the issue of time. I will address that in other post.

Unfortunately, there are no magic, easy answers here. You are going to have to slog through some rust and develop a new way of working. Mostly, however, you just need to start writing. And if you do the above, perhaps, it can serve as a start.

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