I was reading an old issue of the Harvard Business Review when I came upon a passage that sounded awfully familiar: "Boards, once the dependably cautious voices urging management to mitigate risk, are increasingly calling for breakthrough innovation in the scramble for competitive advantage." That observation — made about the corporate world in 2017 — could just as easily be describing higher education today.
Across academe, the calls for innovative, "transformative" leadership have grown louder as the financial, political, and demographic waters have gotten choppier. In the recruiting process, trustees say they want a president with the creativity and conviction to do what it takes for the institution to survive. But once hired and on the job, are trustees really willing to support a "transformative" president?
As an academic and a college president, I wish I could say I was first introduced to the idea of women doing their own thing, making their way in the big wide world, through some worthwhile book or artsy film.
But I can’t. In my parochial, supportive (in a tough-love kind of way) blue-collar community, it was cigarette ads that most helped me envision a world for women that was different from the one my beloved mother inhabited so adeptly, and mostly comfortably.
I was a young girl leafing through my mom’s pile of Better Homes and Gardens when I first saw the 1970s ads for Virginia Slims. I loved those ads. The women were beautiful and cool, and — as a preteen — I bought hook, line, and sinker into the notion that women of the day had "come a long way, baby." To me those ads said that, as a woman, you could be yourself and still thrive in your personal and professional lives.
Think back to your time as a student. How did you experience feedback from your own instructors? Did reading their comments on your work bring moments of elation? Pride? Disappointment? Bewilderment? Do you still have a visceral reaction to a lot of red ink?
Feedback can be a powerful force in college classrooms, and there are ways to make the experience of providing and receiving it even stronger. That’s especially important as students continue to report dissatisfaction with the feedback they get on assignments and tests — calling it vague, discouraging, and/or late.
When I first began teaching online courses, I did so with a fair amount of uncertainty and trepidation. Could I replicate in a digital environment what I believed was essential for an in-person course? What I learned, however, was that I didn’t need to replicate my face-to-face pedagogy exactly. I could find different, albeit related, techniques and practices to achieve a similar outcome online.
For most faculty members, the hardest thing about entrepreneurship is the marketing — figuring out how to "monetize" your academic skills and services.
It’s a tedious and time-consuming process that depends largely on trial and error. It also involves a fair amount of self-promotion, something that is anathema in faculty culture. Words like marketing and monetize tend to make academics very uncomfortable. And yet, without marketing, you’re just a person sitting around waiting for the phone to ring.
As a savvy administrator, you would not inflate enrollment numbers in an official report, use a departmental printer to produce political-campaign brochures, or question the competence of an institutional leader in a conversation with a key donor. Those are
irresponsible activities that would get you in trouble and damage your career — and you are certainly smart enough to avoid them.
Why? Because you are highly responsible, and you know that means acting with integrity. It means being conscientious and judicious with institutional resources. It means offering appropriate warnings, keeping others safe from harm, and choosing the right course of action — even when doing any of those things may make you unpopular.
I’ve been following, with something like exasperation, the discussion over Harvard University’s new study on teaching. Not
surprisingly, the study found that physics students performed better on multiple-choice tests if they were taught via active learning
strategies than by lecture alone. Yet it also found that students tended to feel they learned more from listening to a
It’s October and the requests are starting to pile up. They’re multiplying so fast they feel like an anvil-weight of duty perpetually hanging over your head. They refuse to dissipate as the semester progresses, no matter how well you schedule your time or keep track of deadlines. And the worst part is: The sheer amount of work required to meet these demands goes hidden, uncredited, and unsupported.
We are referring to the mountain of requests that some faculty members receive to write letters of reference for students.
The numbers are striking: Within just three years, the College of Arts and Sciences at Emory University has more than tripled the proportion of faculty hires from underrepresented minority groups. How? We took many steps, but a key one was the increasingly popular, yet controversial, strategy of "cluster hiring."
As a new hiring season gets underway across academe, we all are determined to diversify our faculties — both to meet student needs and to better reflect the full spectrum of American society. Most important, we know that diversity is a critical element in
undergraduate education, research, scientific discovery, and artistic expression.
Two years ago, I stepped down from a deanship at New York University, having spent 33 of the previous 37 years in leadership posts at three universities. I’d always thought the transition from professor to administrator was hard, but returning to faculty life has turned out to be no less difficult.
I have resumed teaching and doing research as a "clinical professor" — NYU’s lingo for a non-tenure-track, full-time, teaching-oriented appointment. In the process, I’ve learned a few things that might benefit other academics going through the same back-to-the-faculty transition.
Like many faculty members, I approach my syllabus before a new semester begins with some trepidation: Do I need to add anything new?
Usually the reasons for inserting additional language are quite valid: Perhaps a student identified a loophole last semester that needs to be corrected. Maybe a colleague suggested a new provision that has been neglected on course syllabi, such as contact information for mental-health resources or gender-pronoun policies.
At most colleges and universities, summer offers a blessed break from the regular meetings of the academic year. It’s a relief to have a few months’ free from having to jockey for air time, listen to long-winded people opine on matters they know little about, navigate petty factional skirmishes, or shore up colleagues whose ideas are routinely shot down.
Now that it’s September, the prospect of returning to meeting-heavy days may seem enervating. But what if we made 2019-20 the year in which we change the traditional dynamics of our meetings? Could we find ways to make them more productive, less
contentious, and more open to voices that usually get muffled or silenced?
Elizabeth Warren, it turns out, was a great professor. That’s one of the key takeaways from Rebecca Traister’s fascinating essay, published last month, on the subject of what Warren’s pedagogy means for her political prospects. Traister quotes former students who still rave about Warren’s courses. But the piece is interesting for more than just its recap of her teaching excellence,
It’s no surprise that would-be academics find reading a faculty job ad to be a highly confusing experience. For one thing, there is no standard format for the description of faculty positions. Throw in the fact that institutions are creating more and more part-time
positions with never-before-heard titles, and the result is a lot of perplexed young Ph.D.s.
As a new season of academic hiring gets under way, I want to offer a basic primer on how to interpret a faculty job ad, aimed at early-career scholars going on the market this fall.
Community colleges are not monolithic. Each has its own culture, its own array of personalities, and its own way of doing things. Yet my experience — more than three decades at five different two-year colleges in four states — suggests that most of them have
a great deal in common, too. With that in mind, if you’re new to full-time teaching in the community-college sector, here’s what you can probably expect as you start work this fall.
After I received word of my promotion to full professor this past June — a day after my 39th birthday — I decided to text my friends rather than post the news on Twitter. One of them asked how I was celebrating. I told her that I wasn’t yet. Instead I was making a list of all the people who had tried to destroy my career.
"Wow, that’s heavy," she said. It was.
But it was also cathartic. Writing the list helped me realize something. From the outside, being a mother probably seemed like the greatest challenge on my path to full professor (the most common reply to my text was some version of "I can’t believe you did that with two kids!"). In fact, the biggest obstacle was actually race.
Have you ever taken one of those implicit bias tests that assess your hidden prejudices about characteristics such as age, gender, weight, or skin tone? As I reviewed the list of test options recently on Project Implicit, it occurred to me that the site was missing one that would be especially helpful to those of us in higher education: a quiz to assess our bias for charismatic leaders.
It would be interesting to test how much we value confidence over competence and how often we gravitate toward those who are charming, dynamic, and engaging — even when they lack the skills or intellect to effectively lead a college or university into the future.
Four years ago, when I started work as a lecturer in a rhetoric department, I knew very little about the field. My Ph.D. is in English, and I had only taught in English departments up until then. But among the handful of things I did know about teaching this subject was the concept of the rhetorical triangle.
That device has proved useful over the years — both in my classroom and in my own writing. But lately, as my career has shifted from being an instructor to helping other faculty members improve their teaching, I’ve been thinking about how the rhetorical triangle is a handy way to help faculty members understand some of the fundamental challenges of student-centered teaching.
Question: What are the merits of a tenure-track job at a small college versus a term/clinical position at a major research university (R1 or R2)? I’m on the tenure track at a liberal-arts college, but on a very low salary. I have a possibility of a "clinical professorship" — a renewable term position — at an R1 university where I would earn a lot more money. But term/clinical positions are not guaranteed job security even at fancy institutions, right? Aren’t those jobs thought of as second class in the higher-education caste system? Any insights you can provide would be appreciated.
As an instructor for large classes, it is a challenge for me to get a range of students to speak up in class. When I invite comments (“Who would like to add or ask?”), there are always a handful of students that rescue me—I think of them as my Hermiones—but the other 100-200+ students remain silent. I contrast this with my small online classes, where I hear from everyone on a regular basis. One August night a couple of years ago, I was lying in bed, thinking about how to incentivize more students to contribute in class, and came up with Fired Up and Ready to Discuss.