Saturday, April 20, 2013

Life after tenure

Dr. Crazy has written about life after tenure, and nicoleandmaggie would like more people to chime in, so here goes--in bullet points for easy Saturday reading:

  • To be honest, life after tenure is a lot like life before tenure, except with a lot more service. I was working hard before, and I'm working hard now. The level of work didn't change except that I was expected to do more service and serve on more committees after tenure.
  • I was happy to get tenure and didn't feel let down, as many people writing at The Chronicle apparently did. On the other hand, I try very hard not to think myself into a Peggy Lee song, because that could easily take over my life. 
  • Like Flavia, I still fund most of my research and conference travel myself. I have never taken a vacation that did not involve visiting family or gone to an exciting place that wasn't related to conference travel. That sounds sadder than it is--I've gone to some good conferences in fun places--but that's the reality of an academic life. It's like K-12 teachers spending their own money on school supplies, only writ large.  If you don't want to do extra teaching or whatever to spend money on your career instead of on yourself, academe might not be for you. 
  • I did not take the advice of some senior colleagues*, who said that they never read another teaching evaluation again after getting the tenure letter. Nor did I follow the advice of colleagues and online folks who said "now you can get a hobby." Honestly, most of the hobby-like things I can think of to do (except for riding bikes/running, etc.) aren't as much fun as the research I do. Do reading history (popular histories like Drew Gilpin Faust, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Daniel Howe, Simon Schama, etc.) and blogging count as hobbies? If so, I've got two. 
  • The biggest difference was that I realized that yes, it would be possible to hunker down and stay at associate professor forever, but that I chose not to do so. Technically, I do not have to work these long weeks or spend money on conferences instead of vacations. There'd be a hit to performance evaluations, but in an environment with no raises for years on end, what's the incentive to keep working hard?  Personal pride, that's what, and the sense that you want to keep teaching better, writing better, and making a difference. 
*I've read about this on the interwebs, not any place I've worked in a long time, I hasten to add.

Updated to add: For a scientist's view, check out


MineralPhys said...

I liked your life after tenure post, and it motivated me to do my own.

undine said...

Thanks! I will add your link to the main post.