New associate professors — both newly promoted and new to UNM — recently learned about the opportunities and expectations that come with the position at a workshop hosted by Advance at UNM.
Workshop speakers included Advance director Julia Fulghum, UNM Provost James Holloway, Senior Vice Provost Barbara Rodriguez, Professor of biology Tina Takacs-Vesbach and Mary Jo Daniel, director of the Faculty Research Development Office.
“The most important piece of advice I can give is that you don’t need to do everything at once,” Holloway said. “It’s the totality that makes a faculty career and it doesn’t need to all happen at once.”
Holloway gave the opening remarks at the event. He made it clear that associate professorship sometimes feels like the “middle child” and that it’s okay to not feel clear about what next steps could be. Holloway assured the group that there are new opportunities coming through new resources and new collaboration with others.
Many of the speakers recognized associate professors as the most dissatisfied with their career when compared to assistant and full professors. Further than that, associates that have been in their position for 6 years or more have increased dissatisfaction according to data presented by Takacs-Vesbach.
“There is no rule that you have to go up to full (professorship), but I think this data shows you that you need to get in and out as quickly as possible,” she said.
Takacs-Vesbach gave the professors tips on how to avoid this dissatisfaction with their new roles including to focus on personal research preferences. She also provided resources such as the upcoming Advance at UNM Stress management workshop to try to avoid this mid-career funk.
The speakers encouraged the associate professors to begin moving towards full professorship, providing several paths that can be taken to achieve this goal.
“I call it write your own adventure story.” Fulghum said.
She said associate professors need to pick their path to excellence, be programmatic and begin to think about their own narrative.
Another tip covered during the event included applying for sabbatical and uses for sabbatical such as recovery.
“Place yourself first and think of the department as a well oiled machine that will run if you are there or not,” Rodriguez said. “Think about recovery… think about where you want to move with your research.”
The presentation also included specifics on expectations this new position may entail, but also new opportunities, such as peer evaluations and reviewing promotion and tenure files.
Fulghum reminded the associate professors to also build back in parts of the lives they have sacrificed for their career, such as hiking, going to museums or other leisure activities.
“I can’t say this enough.” Fulghum said. “What do you need? ….What makes your career meaningful?”