Anne H. Charity Hudley, PhD

Professor of Education and African-American Studies and Linguistics

Stanford University

Christine Mallinson, PhD

Professor of Language, Literacy, and Culture Program and Director of the Center for Social Science Scholarship

University of Maryland Baltimore County

Antione D. Tomlin

Antione D. Tomlin, PhD, PCC

Associate Professor + Chair of the Academic Literacies Department

Anne Arundel Community College

“I’m Black; my language is Black, my being is Black,” said one college graduate we interviewed. “You don’t need permission to be Black or to use your Black language. Demand the respect be put on your language because your Black language matters, and so do you!”

In 2018, our team began the Talking College Project, a four-year study, where we worked with over 100 Black and African American undergraduate and graduate students across the U.S. Students shared about their linguistic experiences in college and why recognition and respect for Black language and culture is something that all Black college students and the faculty who work with them need to know. 

Black college students deserve to reap the benefits of decades of linguistic research into Black language practices, including the specific variety often referred to as African American English. Linguists know that all languages and varieties have inherent value. From a Black-centered perspective, the cultural value of Black language practices is even more important. Through language and communication, social relationships and community belonging are forged. 

The need for this information to reach Black students and faculty is a critical equity issue in education, as we support all students to claim and create their own linguistic and cultural destinies. Black language matters because Black lives matter.

Your Language Is Your Black Is Your Beautiful

In the words of our student researchers, your language is your Black is your beautiful. What Black people say is a key pathway through which Blackness is transmitted culturally, and how Black people talk is also a cultural enactment of Blackness. When we talk about Blackness, we’re referring to a broad set of experiences of history, culture, identity, and community. Language is central to Blackness in all its variability.

Across the Black Diaspora, the cultural value of Black language practices is seen in homes and with friends, in speeches and sermons and songs, in person and online. In college, Black students use African American English and Black language practices as a means of preserving meaning and of establishing points of cultural connection with one another. 

Given the principle that language is culture, we challenge the damaging belief that Black language is deficient. Too often, Black students receive this false message. Such claims are not true: Your language is not broken, nor are you. Language variation does not diminish in any way a person’s intellect or aptitude.  Black is beautiful, and Black language is, too.

Your Black Don’t Have to Look or Sound Like Someone Else’s

There isn’t just one way to communicate. Some Black people use African American English, some use it situationally, some don’t use it at all, and many Black people use other languages and language varieties. Language is a product and a repository of Black culture, but it is not what makes a person Black.

As our student researchers put it, your Black don’t have to look like or sound like someone else’s. How a person uses language is shaped by their communities and their individual experiences. A person’s entire linguistic knowledge—the languages, varieties, and styles that they use or know to any degree—makes up their personal linguistic repertoire.

Black students deserve to name, understand, and own the linguistic variation that they may have intuited throughout their lives. The National Council of Teachers of English and the Conference on College Composition and Communication stated this point in 1974 and have reaffirmed it ever since: Students have the right to their own language—including all the spoken, signed, written, and gestural characteristics that give Black languages and language varieties their richness and cultural resonance.

Black Language Is Activism, and It Is Powerful beyond Measure 

Language has always been a primary site of unification and resistance for Black people—from the antebellum period, when enslaved Africans sang songs to guide freedom seekers, to the contemporary era, when social justice leaders organized a global movement around the phrase #BlackLivesMatter.

Black college students led the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Today, Black college students are still rising up and taking a stand for racial justice and systemic social change. You know your language and what it can do, especially when it joins with other voices. Language is a tool of the Black freedom struggle and liberation.

Black college students are key to a new tradition of liberatory linguistics that can bring about change in higher education. Based on our research, we created strategies, modeled after the Speak Up! Campaign of the Southern Poverty Law Center, to support Black students in claiming their linguistic agency and creating linguistic inclusion on college campuses. 

  • Be Prepared.Claim your language and challenge anti-Blackness. Where you can, speak out if someone devalues your (or someone else’s) language—such as, “My language is my culture” and “We preserve our language to preserve our meaning, value, and worth.”
  • Be Encouraging. Help others stand up for linguistic justice and speak out against linguistic racism. Express your support for brave peers who insist on their right to their linguistic identity and heritage.
  • Be Confident. Advocate for linguistic rights whenever you can. Where can students hear, see, and use Black language, language varieties, and culture on campus? Where can greater linguistic inclusion be achieved in classes and on campus?
  • Be Proactive. Create the linguistic climate that you seek. Join with faculty and staff mentors who can help advocate on students’ behalf. Through linguistic activism, you can create a more welcoming place for Black languages, varieties, and those who use them.

You Know Your Language

There is so much left to learn about Black and African American college students’ linguistic experiences. To do so requires gathering more knowledge from students themselves—including those who speak African American English, those who don’t, those who flip the switch, and those who mix it up.

We hope to motivate Black and African American college students to do their own research into Black language practices, through community-centered models of doing linguistics. Be bold and share your experiences to converse and learn together, and consider how your research can advance linguistic justice. After all, you know your language better than anyone else. 

Feel free to join us in the conversation on Twitter at @TomlinAntione, @clmallinson, and @Acharityhudley

Authors Bios:

Anne H. Charity Hudley, PhD, is Professor of Education and African-American Studies and Linguistics, by courtesy at Stanford University. Her research and publications address the relationship between language variation and educational practices and policies across the educational lifespan from preschool through graduate school, particularly for Black students. She has a special dedication to creating high-impact practices for underrepresented students in higher education. Charity Hudley is the co-author of numerous publications and four books: The Indispensable Guide to Undergraduate Research, We Do Language: English Language Variation in the Secondary English Classroom, Understanding English Language Variation in U.S. Schools, and Talking College Making Space for Black Language Practices in Higher Education. Charity Hudley is a fellow of the Linguistic Society of America and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Christine Mallinson, PhD, is professor in the Language, Literacy, and Culture Program and affiliate professor in the Department of Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), where she also is the founding director of the Center for Social Science Scholarship. The author and editor of numerous books and articles, Mallinson draws upon interdisciplinary frameworks from linguistics, education, and sociology to examine language as a socially and culturally contextualized practice in ways that are community-centered while also informing educational policy and practice. She is the past chair and a current member of the LSA Ethics Committee, as well as a member of the LSA Committee on Ethnic Diversity in Linguistics. She is past associate editor of the journal American Speech, and she has served on the editorial boards of the journals American Speech, Language and Linguistics Compass, and Voice & Speech Review.

Antione D. Tomlin, PhD, PCC is a tenure-track Associate Professor + Chair of the Academic Literacies Department at Anne Arundel Community College. Dr. Tomlin is also an ICF Certified Life Coach.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusion or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of Interfolio.

A recent survey conducted by Interfolio and Hanover Research of over 600 faculty members from higher education institutions across the country provides a revealing snapshot of faculty’s feelings regarding their workloads, career journeys, and faculty technology. As part of a three-part series looking at the survey results, this blog article details survey insights into faculty career journeys.

Your faculty may be exhausted by their heavy workloads during the pandemic and anxious about their career paths, but there’s good news.

You can give them significant time back to re-invest in the work that is most meaningful to them  with one step. 

This step can complement larger systematic changes that you are tackling, such as how to reflect COVID challenges in reviews and promotions, how to prioritize equity and inclusion among your faculty and institution, and more.

The transformation your institution can take now is adopting a faculty information system. And with a modular approach, you can prioritize the most pressing needs of your faculty, and build from there. With a technology purpose built for faculty and shared governance, you will achieve immediate — and long-term — benefits for your faculty and institution.

Why Your Faculty Want Faculty Technology

Most faculty (81%) believe that a faculty information and workflow technology designed specifically for faculty would be very helpful in their career success – according to our survey of over 600 faculty members in higher education.

That means that if you implement or expand faculty management technology at your institution, you can give your faculty some peace of mind about their careers, which would be especially welcome given the pandemic disruptions to their careers.

Technology that is purpose-built for the faculty lifecycle is reassuring to faculty for a number of reasons.

First, these software solutions save time, replacing administrative busywork faculty must carry out with efficient, digital processes. In contrast to home-grown systems in which faculty have to hunt for files across different sites or folders, a faculty information system gives faculty a centralized location from which they can view and comment on files. With the time such a system saves, faculty can focus on the things that are most important to their careers, whether that is research, student support, or creative projects.

While there may be additional steps institutions must take to further improve faculty work-life balance, preventing wasted time is an important first step.

Second, a faculty information platform promotes transparency in faculty review, promotion, and tenure. In particular, such a platform makes advancement requirements clear to faculty and their review committees while also documenting each review, creating a record for the future.

When you enable faculty to clearly see the path they need to take for career success, you eliminate some of the stress inherent in these important career milestones. That is, faculty can focus on preparing their work for presentation in the review process, rather than stressing about obtaining files on a shared drive or who to send those files or even what actual files are needed for a particular review. 

Likewise, when faculty know that all reviews are documented, they have reassurance that there is a strong check in place against inappropriate, unethical, or illegal decisions.

How Faculty Technology Supports Equity Goals

Another benefit of faculty technology is that it helps you pursue your goals for a diverse faculty and equitable hiring and retention practices.

Achieving equity in your faculty is not just a mandate if you’re to live your institutional values; it’s good business.

How so? Research shows that female students and students of color feel better supported when there are same-gender and same-race faculty at their institution. Given that 59.5% of U.S. college students are women, if you want the majority of your students to feel supported, you need more female faculty.

Likewise, you can’t effectively attract and support students of color if you’re not hiring and promoting faculty members of color.

A Faculty Information System facilitates the attraction and retention of female and underrepresented faculty in several ways:

  • Its documentation of hiring and promotion processes signals that your institution values transparency and guards against inequitable practices; that signal is likely to attract diverse faculty.
  • Its data-collection capabilities during hiring and review enable institutions to assess their progress in hiring and retaining diverse faculty and to identify needed improvements.
  • Its faculty-activity-reporting function enables faculty to easily capture a full range of their work, including service and activities relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). In turn, this visibility allows the institution to more fully recognize where time is — or is not — being spent.

Of course, faculty technology alone can’t lead to a diverse faculty that is representative of either the student body or the wider community. Institutions must also be willing to recognize and reward DEI and student-support activities.

Likewise, institutions must equitably address the disproportionate effect of the pandemic on female and underrepresented faculty.

But faculty technology can make follow-through on these institutional choices easier.

White Paper: Rebuilding Higher Education

If you’d like to learn more about how institutions are pursuing these reforms, we recommend the white paper The Time is Now: Rebuilding Higher Education: How Faculty Affairs Professionals Can Lead their Institutions to Future Success.

A recent survey conducted by Interfolio and Hanover Research of over 600 faculty members from higher education institutions across the country provides a revealing snapshot of faculty’s feelings regarding their workloads, career journeys, and faculty technology. As part of a three-part series looking at the survey results, this blog article details survey insights into faculty career journeys.

One-third of your faculty feel underappreciated, and 93% of them perceive troubling obstacles to tenure and promotion, according to a recent survey Interfolio conducted of over 600 faculty members ranging from adjuncts to full-time professors.

Reacting to these results, faculty affairs professionals Interfolio interviewed expressed that higher education must act to improve faculty work-life balance.

How exactly colleges and universities should change faculty career journeys remains unclear, but one thing is certain: 

If institutions want to stop the Great Resignation of faculty that has begun, they must embrace the Great Reset and, like other businesses, fundamentally rethink faculty careers.

Faculty Survey Identifies Key Tenure and Promotion Obstacles 

Only seven percent of faculty we surveyed feel there are no obstacles to achieving tenure and promotion. 

When asked to identify up to five obstacles to achieving tenure, promotions, and/or salary increases, the most common obstacle respondents chose was remote work and online teaching, with balancing work and personal responsibilities not far behind.

Roughly one-third of respondents also feel lack of mentorship or career guidance is one of their greatest obstacles. You can see the full list of identified obstacles below:

Considered together, these survey results suggest faculty perceive many significant obstacles to advancement in their careers.

Our survey also asked those faculty that feel underappreciated to identify the specific impact they’re making that they feel may go underappreciated in career advancement conversations.

The top two impacts that may go underappreciated, both of which were selected by 54% of the respondents, were diversity, equity, and inclusion work and creative productions. 45% of faculty chose student mentorship as an impact that may go underappreciated.  

Another sobering finding from the survey was that only 37% of the respondents agree that their institution is good at retaining underrepresented faculty.

Faculty Affairs Administrators Recognize Need for Change

In response to these survey results, several faculty affairs administrators we spoke to elaborated on how their institutions are working to address obstacles to faculty promotion and tenure.

At New York University (NYU), faculty were able to include a COVID impact statement in their reviews for promotion, and NYU also granted all tenure-track faculty a one-year tenure COVID-related clock extension, unless the faculty member requested to stay on the original tenure clock.

NYU faculty are also asking for additional guidance and transparency on the “trajectory to get to tenure,” says Charlton Mcllwain, Vice Provost for Faculty Engagement and Development at NYU.

The exact trajectory to obtain tenure isn’t the only thing that is unclear on campuses. Other institutions are wondering how to improve faculty work-life balance.

“The pandemic brought to life the fact that our work-life balance was untenable to start with,” observes Laura Robbins, Associate Dean, Office of Faculty Information, at John Hopkins University School of Medicine. “And now what people are craving is something that should have been available the whole time: a better work-life balance. So, as a country and as an institution, we have to ask: ‘Are we going to change the way we do business and our measure of success?’”

NYU is also wondering how to enable better work-life balance for its scholars, Mcllwain says:  

“When I go to our early-career faculty and say, ‘It’s imperative for you to find work-life balance,’ it’s great for me to say that, but the ultimate response is, ‘Okay, well, what are you going to do to help me make sure I can actually make that a reality?’ And I think that’s going to be a challenge for us moving forward.”

NYU is also exploring how it can give greater weight in the tenure and promotion review process to teaching and activities relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Likewise, at JHUSOM, “there is a conversation taking place among the departments and within the administration about needing to rethink and reweigh review criteria,” says Robbins.

As part of efforts to modify their tenure and promotion reviews, these institutions are also taking steps to capture the full diversity of faculty activities, so that these activities can be recognized and rewarded during the review process.

“It’s critical to have a structure that captures what faculty are doing so that institutions can recognize faculty’s contributions. That’s one of the reasons we adopted the Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting module — to help us meet that challenge,” says Mcllwain.

In addition to better capturing faculty activities, institutions need to fundamentally change their review and promotion practices and policies, argues Rob Nelson, Executive Director for Academic Technology & Planning at the University of Pennsylvania

“It’s easier in some ways to launch a new initiative to recognize faculty than it is to change the structures that have been in place for a while, but we have to do the hard work of updating our tenure and promotion review practices and requirements to better reflect new institutional priorities,” says Nelson.

White Paper: Rebuilding Higher Education

If you’d like to learn more about how institutions are pursuing these reforms, we recommend the white paper The Time is Now: Rebuilding Higher Education: How Faculty Affairs Professionals Can Lead their Institutions to Future Success.

A recent survey conducted by Interfolio and Hanover Research of over 600 faculty members from higher education institutions across the country provides a revealing snapshot of faculty’s feelings regarding their workloads, career journeys, and faculty technology. As part of a three-part series looking at the survey results, this blog article details insights into faculty workload. 

Over the last three years, the workload on college and university faculty has increased significantly, according to a survey of over 600 faculty members from mostly public institutions across a range of sizes.

If you’re a faculty affairs professional or college administrator, this finding likely isn’t a surprise. Chances are you’ve witnessed firsthand all the additional hard work your faculty have carried out as your institution shifted to online learning and as faculty increased their support of students during the challenges of the pandemic.

But you may not know the details of faculty feelings’ on their new roles – or how you might be able to help faculty navigate their changed circumstances.

Faculty Survey Captures How Faculty Wish Their Roles Would Change

86% of respondents agreed that they wish they had more time to spend on things that are important to them.

In addition, 78% of respondents reported that their workload has increased over the last three years.

Survey respondents attributed the majority of the workload increase to a significant uptick in remote teaching and student support during the pandemic.

Although 86% of the respondents wish they had more time for the things that are important to them, the increased focus on students is not unwelcome to most faculty.

In fact, 51% of respondents agreed that if they had more free time, they would spend it on student-related activities compared to 19% who would devote additional free time to research, creative productions, or other field-related work.

Nor has the increased workload caused the survey respondents to disengage from their work (in contrast to what some faculty observers assert). The majority of our survey respondents (87%) reported being highly engaged in their daily work.

Faculty Affairs Professionals Echo Survey Findings and Share Positive Developments

Although the overwhelming majority of our survey respondents indicated feeling engaged with their work, that doesn’t mean they are happy about the state of affairs, according to several faculty affairs professionals Interfolio interviewed on a recent webinar.

“While we’re not seeing an exodus of faculty, it’s harder to do their jobs, and they’re less satisfied with the jobs that they’re doing,” says Laura Robbins, Associate Dean, Office of Faculty Information at John Hopkins University School of Medicine (JHUSOM).

“At our medical school, COVID has caused us to reassign personnel, such as reassigning surgeons to internal medicine, so they’re not operating; they’re not honing their craft,” adds Robbins. “They’re not leaving the institution — they’re just unhappy.”

Likewise, at New York University (NYU), the continuing disruption of COVID-19 is “causing a lot of anxiety as faculty struggle to do all the things that they came to the institution to do, particularly research,” says Charlton Mcllwain, Vice Provost for Faculty Engagement and Development.

However, at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn), some faculty have welcomed the departure from business as usual.

“In our professional doctorate and master’s programs, there’s a lot of interest in moving those programs online after the faculty experienced online teaching. In fact, we have one master’s program that just abruptly pivoted online,” says Rob Nelson, Executive Director for Academic Technology & Planning at Penn.

Nelson also reports that the survey’s finding of faculty enthusiasm for more student-related activities aligns with his observations about Penn faculty, particularly the increased faculty interest at Penn in mentoring more students.

“There’s been a lot of discussion over the last five years among our faculty about the quality and quantity of mentorship, and a lot of that discussion is related to our diversity and equity initiatives and how we can be more impactful on those students and increase the pipeline of diverse students,” Nelson says.

Similarly, at NYU, as a result of COVID-19, faculty are more focused on learning strategies to promote student success. And at JHUSOM there is increased faculty attention on student’s mental health.

How can faculty affairs help faculty with their workload changes? 

While there may be no one-size-fits-all approach to reducing faculty workloads, the faculty affairs professional we spoke to recommend two actions all institutions can take in response to faculty workload changes: encourage faculty to document their activities — and make it easy. 

“Tell your faculty to take the time to document what they’ve been doing and how they’re spending their time,” Robbins advises, “because that’s going to be important information in the short term as well as the long term, and they don’t want to rely on their memory for that.”

And just as important is making it easier for faculty to record their activity information.

“It’s critical to have a structure that captures what faculty are doing so that institutions can recognize faculty’s contributions. That’s one of the reasons we adopted the Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting module — to help us meet that challenge,” says Mcllwain.

White Paper: Rebuilding Higher Education

If you’re interested to learn more about how institutions are navigating these challenges, we recommend our white paper, The Time is Now: Rebuilding Higher Education: How Faculty Affairs Professionals Can Lead their Institutions to Future Success.

In the United States, we live in a climate where higher education institutions and organizations have diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism at the forefront of their missions, visions, and strategic plans. However, as a Black academic or Blackademic, educator and DEIA champion, I am not sure I always see institutions and organizations walking the walk and doing the work it takes to live up to those missions, visions, and strategic plans. This piece will offer insight to educators on small steps they can take at the individual level to foster inclusion and equity in their classrooms. 

As a scholar who studies many areas within language, literacy, and culture, I acknowledge the importance of my identities and intersections as a Black, gay male. I also am mindful of the many intersections my students bring to the classroom.

From day one, I tell my students that I can only be myself and encourage them to figure out what they want to bring to our space. Additionally, I share that if I am not having fun, they probably aren’t either. With that being said, here are some tips to creating an inclusive environment in the classroom:

1. Be Yourself (A Human)

While this may seem basic, many faculty and educators forget that it is okay to show all sides of their personalities. As humans, we are whole creative beings, so we should actively resist the pressure to only “act” or “be” a certain way in front of the class. We should let it be known if we are having an awesome day.

We should also let it be known if we are having a tough day. The more our students see us as humans and not authority figures, the more they open up and share about themselves. To clarify, if you are having a rough day, I am not saying to go in with an attitude. However, I am saying to acknowledge that your day isn’t going well, and that you will try your best to leave it at the door and support the course as best as possible.

This practical modeling lets students know it’s okay to have an off day and still press on. Creating this type of space allows for the creation of permission and autonomy that students may use to stay engaged, focused, and retained, not just in your course but also at the institution.

2. Learn Every Student’s Name

No matter how big or small the course is, faculty should go out of their way to identify each student by name. This approach lets students know that we see them and care enough to learn their names. To take it further, I always encourage my students to share their preferred pronouns and/or nickname with me. I also model an introduction so students can use the skills necessary to inform others of what they like to be called.

At the beginning of each semester, I say, “Hello. My name is Dr. Antione Tomlin. You MAY call me Dr. Tomlin.” Then I encourage them to use my same template to introduce themselves and tell us what we MAY call them. This level of awareness creates a space for all to take control and have confidence over their name, identity, and whole being.

3. Ask and Use Preferred Pronouns 

Using preferred pronouns is of the utmost importance, especially within the classroom. An easy way to honor names and pronouns is to ask students how they prefer to be addressed at the start of the semester. Just as you would ask a student their preferred name, you can request their preferred pronouns as well. I do this by asking students to create name tents at the start of the semester.

I encourage them to write their preferred name and pronouns, along with a picture that tells us something about them that they would like us to know. I collect the name tents at the end of each class and redistribute each class after. This helps me remember each student’s name and helps them learn each other’s names too.

I have received such great feedback from students about how this small thing makes a big difference in their comfortability and a sense of purpose and belongingness in the course.

4. Ask “What” not “Why” Questions  

I have made it a point center questions around  “what” instead of “why”. “What” questions create open-ended dialogue and space for conversations to evolve. “Why” questions could create a space of judgment and defensiveness. For example, instead of asking a student, “Why did you do it that way?” I will say, “What is important about doing it that way?” This allows the student to dig deep, think, and respond more insightfully than defensively.

As educators, we should not be interrogating or intimidating our students; we should encourage curiosity and dialogue, and “what” questions do just that. Additionally, as educators, we should be open to responses that are not traditionally aligned with what we expect an answer to be. For example, when I ask a question to my class, sure I have a general idea of what I am hoping for an answer; however, I do not dismiss answers that fall outside of that personal/internal expectation. I often respond to those answers and say, “Oh, that’s interesting, tell me more about that perspective.”

This way encourages dialogue and allows me to see the student’s perspective and how they arrived at the answer they did. This approach reinforces my stance on encouraging students to participate and share and allows for personal and lived experiences to be inserted into the learning space, creating additional opportunities for all perspectives to be heard and honored.

Inclusion and Diversity with Feedback  

Moreover, I will share some of the thoughts from my students in a winter course I am currently teaching. Anonymously, I asked my students to document what I have done to make them feel included and valued in the class. Some of the things my students shared included the following statements:

  • “Very welcoming”
  • “Interacting with students with funny and joyful comments”
  • “Very observant and included students in conversation”
  • “Kind and inviting”
  • “Open conversations and knew everyone by name”
  • “Prompt responses to emails and patience and knowledgeable”

While I enjoyed reading my students’ feedback and appreciate their experience, as an educator, I always continue to look for opportunities to learn and grow. I encourage my fellow educators to do the same. Enhance what is working in your classrooms, and scrap what is not. Continuous improvement is vital, and creating assessment and evaluation opportunities helps us see what needs to be tweaked. So, please, use the tips that work for you, scrap those that do not, and create new ones.

Last, but certainly not least, I want to give a personal shoutout to my students for providing their feedback and experiences as I gathered information to write this post. Thank you, Erin Archer, Corey Ford, Ean McChesney, Jade Nadal, Kaden Noble, and Deasia Warren. I am forever grateful.

Do you have additional tips to add to the list? Or have specific strategies to help academics gaining or progressing in an administrative position? Please share. Feel free to send your responses via Twitter @TomlinAntione so that we can continue this conversation!

Author’s Bio:

Antione D. Tomlin

Dr. Antione D. Tomlin earned his PhD in Language, Literacy, and Culture from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and is an assistant professor + Chair of the Academic Literacies Department at Anne Arundel Community College.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusion or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of Interfolio.

Dr. Antione D. Tomlin and Dr. Danny M. Hoey, Jr.

As Black men, we come to Academia with a very different lens and perspective on what it means to excel in higher education. As a Dean (Danny) and a Department Chair (Antione), we provide some tips on gaining and progressing in academic administrative positions. While it can seem impossible at times to obtain administrative positions, we offer four essential tips when thinking about your academic career trajectory.

1. Be Able to Articulate Your Leadership Philosophy

As you move towards academic administrative roles that are more complex and nuanced, it is imperative that you have a leadership style that you can clearly articulate and provide concrete examples of–in writing, in an interview, and with those that you hope to lead. Ask yourself these questions: what is my mission, what do I value most, and what is it that I am the most passionate about–and be deeply reflective.

Once you are able to answer those questions, examine the ways in which you lead and see if your answers and your actions match. If your actions in your current leadership role are not consistent with what you discovered about yourself, ask yourself why? Be critical in your reflection—it will help you redefine your leadership style so that it is consistent with who you want to be as an administrator. Also, this exercise will allow you to confidently explain who you are as a leader, how your leadership philosophy inspires, and how it gives those that you lead the confidence to be innovative as they work to achieve desired outcomes.

2. Build Relationships

Learning how to build relationships is pivotal to any administrative role. If the folks that you lead believe you to be untrustworthy, it is less likely that they will follow you and it will be even harder to achieve the goals that you have set.

When you are new to an administrative role, you are the outsider—even if you have come from among the ranks of faculty. It is startling at first; however, do not let that deter you. Roll up your sleeves, develop a thick skin, and proceed as if you are the new kid on the block and work to engender trust from the folks that you lead. This means that you have to be clear and transparent in your communication, be fair, actively listen, advocate for those that you lead while still holding them accountable. And, most importantly, be consistent while doing all of the above.

Once your team sees that you are serious about building with them and not without them, they will trust you, and even if they do not agree with a decision that you make, they will follow you because you all have a relationship that is built on trust and mutual understanding.

3. Find a Mentor  

In order to progress within academia, a mentor is essential. Finding someone who is in the field, who is well connected, and who is blunt and honest with you will only help you. We encourage you to find a mentor with whom you can build rapport and trust. This person will be able to share with you what they see as strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, they will be able to help you align yourself with opportunities that help shape and prepare you for administrative appointments. Furthermore, a major reason for identifying a mentor is to learn from their mistakes.

Administrative appointments are highly competitive, which means there is no time for mistakes that could have been avoided. Talk with your mentor early and often, to ensure that you are on a trajectory that makes sense for what you want to accomplish. So, find a mentor, listen to your mentor, and soak up all the knowledge and wisdom they may have to offer about how to gain that appointment.

4. Develop/Grow Your Transferable Skills  

Often, faculty may not apply for administrative appointments out of fear of not meeting minimum qualifications. When thinking about administrative appointments, it’s crucial to position yourself for the appointment you want early on. That is, finding ways to continue to learn, grow, and take on other duties and responsibilities that would closely align with the position you hope to obtain. Actively seeking opportunities for continuous improvement enhances your chances of being selected as a finalist for an administrative position. Additionally, looking at job postings similar to ones you want can prove to be helpful. Reviewing similar postings allows you to take a temperature of the field. You may also gain tips on how to word and reword your Cover Letter and Curricula Vitae with key phrases and qualifications that make you stand out.

Do you have additional tips to add to the list? Or have specific strategies to help academics gaining or progressing in an administrative position? Please share. Feel free to send your responses via Twitter @TomlinAntione so that we can continue this conversation!

Authors’ Bio:

Antione D. Tomlin

Dr. Antione D. Tomlin earned his PhD in Language, Literacy, and Culture from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and is an assistant professor + Chair of the Academic Literacies Department at Anne Arundel Community College.

Dr. Danny M. Hoey, Jr., is the Dean of Student Learning, Equity, and Success for the Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences at Gavilan College. He has served in various academic administrative roles and believes that it is his responsibility to give back by mentoring those who aspire to be academic administrators.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusion or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of Interfolio.

Working as an adjunct faculty member can be rewarding and exhausting work. This is especially true if the bulk of your income comes from working multiple adjunct positions at numerous institutions. While I am a full-time faculty member now, I simultaneously served in an adjunct faculty role for five years at various institutions before landing a full-time position. So, I know firsthand, all too well, how difficult it can be to obtain and maintain a consistent or at least somewhat reliable adjunct faculty position.

Although adjuncts are teaching more significant percentages of courses than full-time faculty, it can still be challenging to get your foot in the door. This post will delve into strategies for obtaining adjunct faculty roles in these very competitive times.

1. Do Your Research

As a potential or current adjunct, it is crucial always to see what is available. Most departments need adjuncts last minute, so opportunities may come and go very quickly. Therefore, it is essential to look for potential opportunities constantly, so you are at the top of mind when departments are looking to hire someone quickly to fill last-minute scheduling/staffing needs.

A few approaches to help with this may be to check in with higheredjobs.com and indeed.com regularly. Additionally, you can anticipate an increase in postings as each semester is ending (April-May and November-December), as departments will be hiring adjuncts for the following term then. This will allow you to see what has been posted and is available.

In addition, it is a good idea to check each institution’s employment page as well, as some institutions do not post externally, or . there may be a lag between when the institution sends the posts to the external advertising site and when those sites post. So, the job may be up for viewing on the institution’s webpage a day or two earlier.

2. Turn your Resume into a Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Turning your resume into a CV could mean a world of difference in landing more adjunct positions. There are some key components that you should include when marketing and advertising yourself for adjunct positions. Some potential headers you might consider when transitioning your resume to a CV include but are not limited to:

  • Education
  • Teaching Experience
  • Other Related Experience
  • Publications, Presentations, and Creative Achievements 
  • Conference Posters, Presentations, and Talks
  • Service to College (if you have it), Community, and Profession 
  • Trainings/Professional Development

3. Send Emails to Department Chairs

It is important to note that after you have done all you can with watching the job posting sites, checking the institution’s career  pages, and transitioning your resume to a CV, that still may not be enough. You may have to take it a step further and reach out to individuals directly. While this may be considered a more aggressive approach, there is no harm in expressing your interests and advocating for yourself.

I always encourage adjuncts to look up the department chair’s contact info for the department they wish to work. Sending a quick introduction and interest in teaching email could go a long way. Additionally, you can always inform them that you can provide your CV if need be. Since scheduling and finding adjuncts are usually fast-paced, I always say send the email. You could send an email at the right time and land yourself the adjunct position you want based on your qualifications, proactiveness, and ease with which your potential employer has found you.

Additionally, even if the department chair you contact is not hiring, they may have colleagues who are. Connections are critical in the adjunct faculty world!

4. Start with the Orientation Course  

Many potential adjuncts have a specific discipline they want to teach, be it English, Psychology, Education, Engineering, etc. However, at most institutions, those departments require at least a master’s degree and require related work experience. Therefore, the standards are slightly higher, with less wiggle room for exceptions, flexibility, and substitutions for hiring requirements. However, most institutions offer an orientation course. You may know this course as first-year experience, freshmen seminar, academic development/transitioning to college, preparation for academic achievement, etc.

The goal of these courses is to help students get acclimated to the institution and teach them how to do college. Many institutions require adjunct faculty to hold a bachelor’s degree instead of a master’s degree, which could be a great way to get your foot in the door at a particular school. Once you are hired as an adjunct for a specific institution, it is easier to seek out additional opportunities and move around to teach in other departments.

5. Highlight Your Teaching and other Work Experiences

Lastly, it is vital that you highlight both your teaching and other work-related experiences. Departments want to know that they are hiring the best they can, so it is your job to show them that you are the best. Be explicit in letting potential employers know how your experiences align to fit the needs of their department. Additionally, it is always great to pull from your unrelated teaching experiences to show how you can bring practical knowledge into the classroom. Demonstrating that you can merge practice and theory in your teaching philosophy and pedagogy is another excellent way to set yourself apart from your competition.

Do you have additional tips to add to the list? Or have specific strategies to help academics gaining or progressing in an administrative position? Please share. Feel free to send your responses via Twitter @TomlinAntione so that we can continue this conversation!

Author’s Bio:

Antione D. Tomlin

Dr. Antione D. Tomlin earned his PhD in Language, Literacy, and Culture from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and is an assistant professor + Chair of the Academic Literacies Department at Anne Arundel Community College.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusion or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of Interfolio.

This post continues our series by a onetime academic job seeker, now academic-at-large.

It’s been a few years since we first rounded up our recommendations of academic job boards for active searchers–and a few years more since we updated that list. Time flies when the Internet is innovating! Our previous suggestions are still golden, but we thought we’d add a few, just in case one of these turns out to be the place where you find your next position

Econjobs.com: For economists looking for jobs inside and outside of academia, this specialized academic job board is a gold mine. One helpful feature is a widget that allows you to see which jobs are trending on the board; which are popular; and which have deadlines close to the day you’re looking. Another is the ability to program alerts to let you know when certain types of jobs are posted. 

UniversityPositions: This EU-specific academic job board allows people who plan to work in the European Union to narrow their searches down efficiently. The site offers a newsletter–an easy way to keep track of updates without visiting again and again.  

EducationJobSite: If you are thinking of going into K-12 education after graduate school, this job board aggregates ads for you, from schools across the United States, and is a good way of figuring out what might be available in a given area. 

AirJobs.com: If you are interested in parlaying your hard-won research skills and trying for a job in the field of institutional research, this job board is for you. A bonus is the depth of information on the website, beyond the academic job board, about what “institutional research” means within higher ed, and what the field offers. 


AcademicPositions.com: One more academic job board that’s general and broad, to add to this list of niche candidates, is AcademicPositions.com, which does offer some humanities jobs but seems especially rich in STEM fields. The site pulls from higher-ed job listings worldwide. 

Any opinions, findings, and conclusion or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of Interfolio.

This post continues our series The Smart Scholar by Ramon Goings.

With the new academic year in full swing, this is a time, as junior faculty, that can be stressful. You are attending faculty orientation(s)/department meetings, having informal meetings with potential campus mentors, trying to figure out what you are teaching, and feeling pressure to get your research program off the ground. And all of this is in the context of a global pandemic! Trust me, I have been there and certainly understand the challenges junior faculty may be experiencing right now. Recently, I applied for tenure and promotion and through some reflection I wanted to share four systems that I believe are vital to the success of junior faculty to not only survive, but thrive on the tenure track.

Research Project System

When I give workshops about writing productivity, I typically get asked, “How have you been so productive as a junior faculty?” My response is always, “I think in systems and to manage multiple projects you have to develop your system.”

As a component of your system my suggestion first is to exhaust publications from your dissertation. Here is why: 

  • Your data has already been collected and analyzed and you have a body of work to work from. This cuts down on the time to submit your work for review and you don’t have to feel pressured right away to begin a second project.

However, if you are in your second or third year it is time to start considering that second research project that will provide you data to carry you into applying for tenure. While each discipline differs in whether they want you to write a book or peer-reviewed journal articles, you want to begin this project in year two or three. 

Additionally, as a component of your research system (if applicable) you should seek funding for this second project. It allows you to get in the practice of applying for grants if you haven’t had this experience and even if —worst case scenario— the grant does not get funded, you have most likely written a literature review and methodology that can be used for a publication related to this project once you collect your data. I always believe that anything written can be repurposed in another way.

Decline Opportunities System

As junior faculty there are many new opportunities that will come your way. In order to ensure that you have a streamlined research agenda, a critical part of your system has to include how to say no to opportunities. 

What I have found most effective is to have a visual or written document that outlines your research agenda, and when an opportunity comes your way, before accepting or declining the invitation you should review your agenda and first see if the opportunity fits. If the opportunity is a fit and you have capacity, then say yes to engaging in the opportunity

However, if the opportunity does not fit your agenda and may take more time than you have capacity for, you can decline and then suggest someone else in your network better aligned. I like to provide alternatives (after reaching out to them) because it’s important to support colleagues in our networks and the favor is often returned in the future. 

One caveat here to keep in mind are the politics around your decision for a particular opportunity. I certainly understand how this works and, in some instances, you may be forcefully compelled to accept an opportunity. However, even in these cases always look for a way to tie the opportunity back to your agenda.

Teaching Systems

For most new faculty outside of getting research off the ground, teaching can be a serious time drain. Often we think about the time needed to teach a class and connect with our students, but in many cases junior faculty spend a significant amount of time preparing for class. However, here is also the reality:

  • You are over preparing for your classes.

I know some of you, especially with higher teaching loads, might be saying “well how do I spend less time preparing for teaching?” These are some strategies that I have implemented:

  • Doing class preparation only on the day that I teach that specific class.
  • Blocking out specific times on my calendar to handle teaching related tasks (e.g., grading, course platform management, etc.) and sticking to those times.
  • If possible, limit the amount of new teaching prep I need to do. In many cases I always suggest faculty develop  3-4 classes that they can teach and always teach those classes to limit the prep work after the first time teaching the course.

Documentation System

Having just applied for tenure, one of the systems that saved me was my documentation system. I suggest all junior faculty develop a system that works for you early so that five or six years into your faculty career when you are applying for tenure and promotion you don’t have to say, “Wait, what did I do X years ago?”

During my time on the tenure track I had a few ways to keep tabs on what I was doing. Below are some of the methods I used:

  • Writing everything I did that would count towards tenure and promotion in a word document.
  • Updating the CV anytime a new research product (e.g., paper, book, etc.), presentation, or service commitment is completed.
  • Keeping folders in Google Workspace or DropBox for each academic year and putting copies of any publication in that year’s folder.
  • Asking for a letter from every service commitment.

What systems have you implemented to survive and thrive as a professor? I’d love to hear from you on Twitter!

Any opinions, findings, and conclusion or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of Interfolio.

There is no doubt that being on the tenure track in academia can be stressful. While the process can be daunting with the pressure to “get it right” and be perfect, faculty have many different reasons why they may want to achieve tenure status. As a tenure-track professor, I will share some strategies here that will encourage faculty to work and navigate the process in a way that creates more flexibility, autonomy, and sanity. The piece will share some “to-dos” and “must-knows” for living life on the tenure track.

1. Know the requirements and expectations

It is essential to know what you are signing up for. While some institutions hire faculty on the tenure track, some, like my institution, do not. In my case, you must apply and be granted a tenure-track position. In any case, you must know the requirements and expectations that the institution and promotion and tenure committee impose. Two significant things to be mindful of are timelines and materials/application.

  1. It is important to know the timeline of when you will need to apply for a tenure-track or tenure position. The faculty handbook or your department chair are the best sources of information here. Many institutions have a certain amount of time in which you will need to wait, but not to exceed, to apply for tenure.

    This is extremely important because unless granted permission, you shall not apply. Additionally, in most cases, your application will not be considered if you miss the window in which you are to apply. Missing your given window to apply for tenure could result in your termination and dismissal from the position.

    Moreover, it is essential to know what happens if you are not granted tenure. At some institutions, a rejection or decline of a tenure application is also cause for termination and dismissal from the faculty position. In other cases, if tenure is not granted, you can apply again when your faculty handbook says it is permissible to do so.
  2. The other part of the process to be mindful of is the materials needing to be submitted with your application. Tenure is often a review of your most recent academic work and teaching. This could span from 2 to 6 years, depending on your institution’s timeline for your tenure track.

    Therefore, it is essential to know what materials to include and how to present them to ensure the committee reviews them. Additionally, you will want to ensure your materials are thoroughly detailed and organized. Missing parts of a tenure application may result in rejection or refusal of tenure. Some institutions use an online system for these reviews.

2. Talk to folks who have tenure

This is such a simple and forgotten step in the process. Hopefully, you have colleagues who want to help you succeed. I encourage you to find at least one or two colleagues who have navigated the tenure processes successfully and can share valuable insights Gather your questions about the process, about life after tenure-track, about expectations, and whatever else you may want to know.

Have a chat with your tenure colleagues and get the answers you feel you may need to fill gaps in what otherwise could feel like a mysterious, lonely, and isolating process.

3. Protect your time

This piece of advice may seem complicated or go against the nature of wanting to say yes to everything to show you are a valuable candidate for tenure. However, saying yes to everything leads straight to burnout. Therefore, you must protect your time, especially when on the tenure track. I advise all tenure candidates to get used to saying no to things that will not support their tenure applications.

Furthermore, find out what weights the heaviest points and accomplishments to the promotion and tenure committee and focus on those things. For example, my institution highly values teaching excellence. So, while I enjoy research and college and community service, I know that I need to keep those to a minimum to give a majority of my focus to honing my craft and expertise of teaching in the classroom.

4. You got you!

Do not forget that you are your most prominent advocate. In the end, you have to apply and be granted tenure based on your actions, merits, and expertise. Therefore, you will always have your best interest in mind. If tenure is what you desire, stay the course, put in the work, and accomplish the goal. Only you can do the work it requires to support your mental and physical health while living life on the tenure track.

Do you have additional tips to add to the list? Or have specific strategies to help academics gaining or progressing in an administrative position? Please share. Feel free to send your responses via Twitter @TomlinAntione so that we can continue this conversation!

Author’s Bio:

Antione D. Tomlin

Dr. Antione D. Tomlin earned his PhD in Language, Literacy, and Culture from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and is an assistant professor + Chair of the Academic Literacies Department at Anne Arundel Community College.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusion or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of Interfolio.