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Bill Tierney

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10 things I wish all associate professors knew

titlesI got my PhD in 1984.  During that time I’ve done research on students, faculty, and administrators.  I’ve seen different individuals and groups as “research subjects” as students, colleagues, and as friends.  I’ve developed some thoughts I’d like to share based on my research, my observations, and common sense.  By no means is this everything someone should know.  Think about what else should be added and let me know.

  1.  Congratulations! You got tenure and promotion – but things won’t change very much.
  2. Figure out what you need to do to get promoted and create a plan; the path to professor is more confusing and difficult than from assistant to associate.  Really.
  3. Make certain you understand the publication and funding outlets that your university admires; getting three million dollars for a training grant may sound great but if the university doesn’t look on it as laudatory then don’t do it.
  4. Take a sabbatical – and go away.   A sabbatical is not so you can have some down time and be there to renovate the kitchen.  It’s a professional leave of absence that should develop a skill that you want to improve.
  5. Look for ways to get involved at the university level and get elected to a position in a professional association.
  6. Chair a committee that matters.
  7. If you don’t know how much you have saved for retirement then you need to meet with a retirement counselor now.
  8. Set a physical goal.
  9. Improve your teaching.
  10. Focus on becoming an intellectual leader in your school, university and profession; figure out what that means and how to do it.


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