Tag Archives: professional life

Being Faculty

So the first week of the semester in PFP, we had to quickly write down what we thought it meant to be a faculty member.  Looking back at it, I must have really been in a bad mood:

A faculty member at a college or university is a person who wears many hats.  Through the course of your day, you are a teacher, an advisor, a committee member, a researcher… just to name a few.  A faculty member is someone who better have a pretty strong ability to balance multiple projects at once.  It is not a 9-5 job—some days you work from sun-up to sundown.  Summers aren’t “Free Time” like so many non-academics believe.  Every vacation ends up involving your research at some point.  Being a faculty member means not seeing your family from Thanksgiving to Christmas, even if you’re actually home every night.  It’s constant, lifelong learning.  It’s never quite growing up—you’re always around young people, and your job still involves going to school every day (and being excited about snow days, in spite of what you may tell your students).  It’s fighting with the administration for your students, knowing that gaining opportunities, funding, and time for your own students may end up being detrimental to other departments (and feeling incredibly guilty about that—usually).  It is fighting with sports for the “real” reason students should be at college.  Spring isn’t March Madness—it’s job talks and committee meetings.

After that, I ran out of time to type.

First off, wow, this is pretentious and horrible.  I swear I haven’t doctored it in any way (clearly–look how bad it is!).

But there are some points in there I still believe are true, even after this semester.  As faculty, we really are people who have to “switch gears” constantly, balancing home life and work life; teaching and researching; faculty committee member and student mentor.  Through all of these switches, we have to stay up-to-date on our fields.  We can only emulate the importance of lifelong learning to our students if we ourselves remain active learners.

I think I was probably a little on the administration in my initial write-up.  Many things happen at the higher admin levels that as individual faculty, staff, and students have no concept of.  We have talked a lot this semester about ethics and standards, and faculty members should always stand up for what they think is right.  As Dean DePauw reminded us all spring, it is important to know where your ethical lines are before you enter a situation with a student, fellow faculty member, and even the administration.

My “being faculty” statement is not as comprehensive as I would like, but I think that’s OK.  If I knew everything there was to know about “being faculty” at 26, having not yet officially been a member of any faculty… well, that would be pretty ridiculous.

PS:  I still get excited about snow days…

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Courtesy?

I like to think I’m pretty good at figuring out when I have offended people and am fairly willing to apologize immediately.  My mouth often goes faster than my brain, so this happens enough that I feel like I can speak to how good I am at fixing it.

So when I encounter a situation where someone is being antagonistic to me, and I honestly cannot figure out why, I tend to think that there’s probably nothing I can do to change that situation (wow, I’m just abusing adverbs everywhere).

Thank G-d I have a pretty thick skin.

More often than I would like, I sit in academic, professional situations and watch posturing that I just can’t understand.  Often these situations arise on power-relationship dynamics (men/women; profs/grad students; older/younger).  Quite probably, insecurities I cannot even begin to understand are fueling them.

When “I’m smarter/better/older/whiter/male/younger/taller/female/educated-er than *you*” get in the ways of meaningful dialogue, learning, and just being humane to each other, it infuriates me.  Sometimes I feel empowered to respond to these situations; other times, I sit back and let the jerk (let’s use our 5-year-old words) be a jerk.  Jerkiness will out, G-dwilling.

At the end of the day, I really only have control over my own actions, appearance, and knowledge in any professional (or personal, or random, or ANY) situation.  And if I come off as a jerk, that’s my own fault.

Don’t be a jerk.

Luckily, I have some brilliant academic role models I pull from.  People who are willing to not be in the experts in the room at all times–who encourage the rest of us to step in where their knowledge may be lacking.  I love them for pulling me through the days where the wangst (wank-angst) gets to be too much.

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Filed under gedivts12, pfps2012, vtnmfss12