"Academics are privileged to be paid well for doing something that we love to do. Don’t waste time whingeing." inform Rachel A. Ankeny, professor in the School of Humanities and associate dean of research and deputy dean in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Adelaide, Australia.
The morning after my promotion to professor was made official, my partner asked me how I felt: my main reaction was a sense of relief at never having to fill out promotion forms again! But beyond that initial response, I wondered if anything would actually change. Over the past few years, change has been subtle, but there are some clear lessons that I have learned.
Be a leader
Although talk of leadership is ubiquitous in the university sector, and often quite vacuous, becoming a professor requires taking on new types of responsibilities. These include not just going along with the crowd or keeping your head low, but driving strategic initiatives in research and teaching both in your institution and externally.
See your new role as an opportunity
To be a professor is literally to be a “person who professes” to a certain type of expertise or knowledge. After spending numerous years trying to establish yourself as an expert, you can now use the space and time created by the promotion to explore new opportunities, such as novel, collaborative or interdisciplinary projects that will enhance your research and teaching – and likely your enjoyment of your job.
Constant complaining about workloads and requirements coming from within and outside your institution is almost de rigueur in our current climate. But academics are privileged to be paid well for doing something that we love to do. Don’t waste time whingeing.
Strive for balance
There are no (or few) emergencies in most fields of academia. Take your promotion as an opportunity to rethink how you plan your time in your academic role, but also in your personal life. Don’t neglect or martyr yourself.
Be a role model
Being a professor puts you in a unique position, in which many will look to you for advice and guidance. Instead of dreading this, embrace the opportunities to help shape others’ careers, particularly in light of your past mistakes.
Make the most of invitations
A professorship brings with it lots of invitations. This is particularly true if you are a woman, given the constant need to have gender balance on committees. Step up on a selective basis, and use these interactions as a way to cultivate greater knowledge about the workings of your institution, but also to form new relationships with those with whom you might not otherwise have contact, such as professional and support staff. Also be willing to say no, and avoid falling into the service trap, which can be tempting once promotion is no longer a concern.
The “social licence” of academia is under constant threat – and no wonder, given that we often barricade ourselves in our ivory towers (or are seen to be doing so). Professors are extremely well placed to find ways to give back to our stakeholders and surrounding communities. Such contributions are particularly critical for those of us who work in universities that are publicly supported. Get out there.
Source: Times Higher Education