This post continues our series The Smart Scholar by Ramon Goings.
While summer is in full swing before you know it, students and faculty will be returning to college campuses. With that, now is a great time to begin thinking about what the next academic year will look like. In many conversations around faculty life there are plenty of articles around the importance of research and teaching, however service is not often given the attention that it needs. Therefore, in this post I want to provide three strategies that faculty should consider when engaging in service.
1. Engage in Service that Fulfills You
While service is the hallmark of faculty life and higher education more generally, I am a firm believer that faculty (as much as possible) should engage in service that is fulfilling. For instance, are you someone who wants to seek opportunities to improve policies on campus? If so, then engaging in a faculty senate or some governing body on campus would be beneficial. Or if you enjoy interacting with students then seek committees that allow you to consistently engage with students. There are plenty of options on campus so take some time this summer exploring the various possibilities you have access to.
2. Find Ways to Integrate Your Service into Your Teaching and Research
As faculty, especially those on the tenure track, I think one way to be strategic with service is to find service opportunities on- and off-campus that allow you to intertwine your teaching and research. For instance, my colleague Dr. Julius Davis who is the Director of the Center for Research and Mentoring of Black Male Students and Teachers at Bowie State University is a shining example of how this can be done.
As a scholar of Black male mathematics students and teachers, he found opportunities to use his research on Black male teachers to create the Black Male Teachers College which is a program centered on recruiting and preparing Black male high school students to become educators. Furthermore, the program is led by current Bowie State University Black male teacher candidates. In this situation he is engaging in service to the university with supporting undergraduate students and the community while also being able to conduct research in this area based on his service.
3. Be Willing to Say No
Although as faculty we are evaluated on service, it can quite easy to become overwhelmed with service. This is especially the case for faculty of color who, because they are underrepresented on college campuses, are overworked in service to the detriment of research and teaching. As a result, it is important to say no to service requests when you are overwhelmed and being overworked.
I think the pandemic has taught us the importance of our physical and mental health and I don’t want any of you to experience burnout. Thus, while saying no may be difficult, it is necessary at times.
What strategies have you considered with your service? Send me your thoughts via 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.