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Expectations for tenure and promotion . Some institutions had very clear expectations for tenure and promotion while others were very vague. As mentioned earlier, one respondent had to fight for continuation in his position because of unclear policies. He stated, “We submit a portfolio annually and it’s supposed to have documentation of teaching, research and service.” This respondent had not been given a written copy of the tenure and promotion guidelines. Another respondent stated, “I didn’t know the expectations or the processes to remain.” However, this same respondent further elaborated on written information on tenure, “I knew what the tenure process was. We do a pretty good job about letting all faculty know.” Another respondent emphasized the importance of building relationships with current faculty members, even outside of any formal faculty mentoring program,

Building relationships if not a formal mentor is important. This can be done through co-authoring some works. I am an island by myself at the university because my specialization of school finance is not shared with anyone else in my department so I need to find others outside of my university to work with on this topic.

Time. Time has different meanings at the university level when compared to the PK-12 administration level. For some respondents the pace is slower. There is more flexibility in setting own schedules. One former superintendent stated, “I have a lot more time. I came from a high pressure and stressful job. The stress now is stress I bring on myself to do tenure things. I am interested in mathematics research.” Another respondent stated, “Most principals are concerned with the daily operations of a school. Moving into higher education is a slower pace and the daily responsibilities are very different”. Yet, time was discussed as the second most frequent challenge because new faculty felt there was not enough time to complete everything and some discussed the difficulty of budgeting their time in order to publish and prepare their portfolio for tenure.

Understanding the culture at some institutions was a challenge for many participants. This was the most frequent response given for challenges in the transition to higher education. One of the participants described it as, “Know the pecking order of your department.” Another participant offered a recommendation to take time to learn the culture. He stated, “Take some time assessing the situation. Those who appear to be your friend early on, usually aren’t.”

Job Satisfaction. Many new faculty to higher education explained job satisfaction as an individual satisfaction. Job satisfaction was determined as an independent focused part. The majority of our participants felt they were prepared to enter the field of higher education. One of the respondents mentioned, “You are on your own and you need to be self-disciplined.”

Mentorship . Most had some form of mentorship. At some of the institutions it was highly formalized while at others it was loose in structure. “Colleagues outside and inside the university helped me get started. My superintendent network was strong and I found help from the network established while I was a superintendent.” Another participant stated that he found the state and national affiliates to be helpful. One participant mentioned that their department had a writing group that helped each other. This participant expressed, “The writing group critiques and discussed our shared research articles. My mentor gave me ideas to use to start some research in my classroom. The university also had professional development opportunities in the area of research that was very helpful.” Another participant suggested that you find a mentor immediately to help navigate the position otherwise it can be very difficult.

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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