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Balancing role and responsibilities

One way to understand how to balance roles and responsibilities at the university is to gain strategies to manage the work. The connection with other professors in university service is one way to learn some of the strategies to manage work (Neumann&Terosky, 2007). Another researcher found that new professors often did not anticipate their multiple roles in higher education while adjusting to their expectations of their roles (Magill, 1997). Balancing the workload is important, but balancing the work and personal life is essential. Eddy and Gaston-Gayles (2008) interviewed tenure track faculty and determined that many new faculty struggle with prioritizing work time while balancing family and work time. Lang (2005) in the February segment of his Life on the Tenure Track writes,

I have allowed the tenure track to become a parasite, permanently attached to me, gnawing away at the parts of myself that I have always valued the most and that I don’t want to lose: being a writer, being a father, being a husband, being the sort of person who takes the time to read novels … or to rent a stupid comedy and laugh at it with his wife (p. 108).

He is consumed, his life is out of balance, and it took a hospital stay to help him understand that he had a life “off” the tenure track, too. He advises, “Don’t be afraid to ask for help…everyone needs help occasionally, and pitching in to help a colleague here and there comes with the territory” (p. 111).

Collegiality and support with mentoring

Lack of collegiality does impact tenure decisions even in cases where a candidate’s research, teaching, and service are strong (Smallwood, 2003). Greene et al. (2008) found that many new faculty felt isolated and little sense of collegiality. Some researchers even found that veteran colleagues exploited new faculty while presenting power structures that were tricky for new faculty to navigate (Mullen&Forbes, 2000). There is limited information on how to support new faculty while they adjust to different demands at a university (Sorcinelli, 2002). However, collegiality and support are often considered in parts of mentor programs for new faculty.

An exploration of mentoring shows a long history with classical origins, a variety of definitions, research on mentoring for success in higher education, and recent mentoring pilot programs.

Mentoring: Classical Origins . Mentoring isn’t new and it isn’t confined to higher education. In historical accounts, the term “mentor” is attributed to the ancient Greek poet, Homer (Roberts, 1999). In his epic poem, The Odyssey , written in 800 B.C.E., Odysseus, a great warrior returning to the Trojan War, entrusts the guardianship of his palace and the education of his son, Telemachus, to his trusted friend and advisor, mentor (Reese, 2006). However, it has been claimed that Homer’s Mentor did not naturally exhibit the wise and nurturing behavior historically attributed to him (Roberts, 1999). Instead, it has been noted that it was Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and compassion, who took Mentor’s form and then guided and protected both Odysseus and Telemachus (Roberts, 1999; Zellers, Howard,&Barcic, 2008).

Questions & Answers

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Source:  OpenStax, Education leadership review special issue: portland conference, volume 12, number 3 (october 2011). OpenStax CNX. Oct 17, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11362/1.5
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