Multiple Paths to Excellence: Promotion to Professor

NSF ADVANCE at UNM promotion to full


Promotion Planning Spring 2020

Associate professors and other University of New Mexico faculty learned how to navigate the path to becoming a full professor through tips and experiences from those who went through the process themselves. 


The presenters included Advance at UNM Director Dr. Julia Fulghum, anthropology professor Dr. Frances Hayashida, associate professor of geography Dr. Maria Lane and professor of chemical and biological engineering Dr. Heather Canavan.


At the event hosted by Advance at UNM, Fulghum said the path to promotion as full professor is much less defined than the path to tenure and promotion to associate professor. 


“There’s no strictly defined path,” Fulghum said. “If you look at people around, you’ll see some commonalities in terms of they’re committed, they worked hard, they’ve got some expertise, they probably enjoy their work, but you’re going to see excellence defined different ways. This is really a write your own adventure story.” 


Hayashida spoke about her journey to full professorship and tips for those aspiring to take the jump.


“Think about what your priorities are. Then you want to find a way to link your research, teaching, and service once you figure out what those priorities are,” Hayashida said.


During the presentation, Lane broke down her journey to applying for full professorship. She emphasized the road to full professor as not a solo venture. 


“The last thing I have to say is how important it was for me to have input and feedback from people I trusted across campus, it really did a lot for me to just be checking in with people,” Lane said. 


Canavan said being a woman and seeking promotion has its own set of challenges. She said the confidence gap, for example, is one thing to be aware of. This is the notion that men will apply for jobs when they’re 60 percent sure they meet the qualifications while women will wait till they’re 100 percent sure to apply. 


“Women aren’t playing the game the same way, but they need to feel free to play the game the same way,” Canavan said. 


Overall, the main takeaway the presenters pushed to the aspiring faculty is you have it within you to achieve this feat.  Nobody wants you to fail; everyone is rooting for you to succeed, Canavan said.