Higher Education

Supporting Faculty through Their Career Lifecycle

Over the weekend, I met Dr. Adrienne E. Christiansen and learned about the Jan Serie Center for Teaching and Scholarship at Macalester College. Dr. Christiansen is the center’s director and spoke with colleagues from the Associated Colleges of the South. What piqued my interest was the approach to support faculty throughout their careers, instead of just doing an orientation period for first-year faculty members. How do expectations change for second and third year faculty members? Do they get overlooked as the new group of first-years arrives? What’s in place to support faculty as they prepare tenure portfolios or make the shift from departmental colleague to department chair?

It was this last point, which led to the creation of the New Chair Leadership Seminar, now offered through the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities. A paragraph from the seminar notes:

While all departments have unique personalities, successful departments share common cultural attributes: collaboration is natural, faculty and staff are energized, and the department advances its goals. As a new chair you are in a unique position to create and sustain such culture. And you can do it by focusing on two things: developing trust among your colleagues, and drawing out their innate strengths.

Further, in thinking about the career lifecycle of a faculty member, it’s important to take a holistic view that incorporates one’s personal life. As faculty members begin to have families, are there older colleagues who can relate their experiences and provide advice on how to balance work and life? What about faculty members managing increased administrative work and aging parents? What is the role of a college or university in supporting its faculty? For me, the idea of supporting faculty through their career lifecycle was a new idea and one that seemed obvious.

If you are a faculty member, how are you supported by your institution? Is there a specific area of emphasis or is a more holistic approach taken?

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