Friday, May 19, 2017

Work/Life Balance as an Academic Mama of Teens: Seven Strategies to Keep You Sane

When I started writing Get a Life, PhD, my twins were eight years old and my youngest was five. Thus, much of my blog has been from the perspective of an academic mother with elementary school children. Today, seven years after I first began blogging, my twins are finishing up the tenth grade and my youngest is about to finish the seventh grade.

Yep - three teenagers!
So, what is it like to be an academic mom of teens? If you are a long-time reader of my blog, you may know that my children have had an unconventional childhood, having lived in several cities, spent a year traveling to four countries with me to do research, and spending every summer traveling. My worldly teenagers, nevertheless, have the same set of needs as do most teenagers, and I have had to learn to balance out their needs with mine.
While the children have grown up, my career has also progressed and my work now requires me to be on campus a lot more for committee meetings than when I was an Assistant Professor. Moreover, my career involves a significant amount of travel, especially short trips to lecture about my most recent book on deportations. This spring semester, for example, I have visited twelve campuses, gone to two multi-day out-of-town academic meetings, and three single-day out-of-town academic meetings.
All this travel certainly takes away from family time, and teenagers need quality time with their parents for healthy emotional development. My teens, like all teens, have had their ups and downs and have at times sought out a close relationship and other time avoided me. My goal has been to make it clear that I am available when they need me and that I care about them. So, how do I keep my career moving forward and still maintain a close relationship with my teenage children?
Strategy 1: Find small pockets of time during the week
It is hard to have lots of time together during the week not only due to my work schedule, but also because my kids are busy too. The twins leave the house early in the morning for school, and don’t come home until 7:00pm after swim practice. The seventh grader has gymnastics practice three days a week and doesn’t get home until around 8:00pm on those days. Most days, nevertheless, we do eat dinner together, and have a no-electronics rule at the table, which leaves room for conversation. And, about once a week the kids are finished with their homework early enough for us to squeeze in an episode of a television show we are watching together. I let the kids pick the shows we watch and our current favorite show is Jane the Virgin. Watching TV together may not be the best bonding activity ever, but it provides a basis for conversation both during the show and at other times.
Strategy 2: Limit working on weekends
I try very hard to not work on weekends. Sometimes I will spend Saturday mornings cleaning out my email inbox but I try to get that done Friday afternoons to leave ample time to spend with my family on weekends. Often we use this weekend time to get chores done and hang out together. Sometimes we will take a short trip or go shopping. If I am traveling, I try to return home in time to be home for at least one full day over the weekend so I have time to spend with my family.
Strategy 3: Travel with the teens
If I am traveling somewhere for work that is within driving distance, I try to find ways to bring the family with me. For example, I recently was invited to give a talk at a liberal arts college in Southern California, which is within driving distance from my home. I brought the family with me, and the kids took a campus tour while I was giving my talk. And, we used the honorarium money to treat ourselves to tickets to Universal Studios the next day. That trip was an ideal example of work/life balance, and we had lots of bonding time together. Next year, when the twins are juniors, I hope to take them on a few more trips as they will be thinking more seriously about college. I also always take the whole family when I go on extended research trips.

Selfie with my teen daughter at Universal Studios

Strategy 4: Take advantage of the summers
The summertime is when we get some serious family time together. I have already written about summer hours - - where I describe writing and doing research four hours a day during the summer, leaving the afternoons to spend time with my children. In addition, since I earned tenure, we have been taking four full weeks off during the summer, where I am not working at all. This year, we are traveling around Southeast Asia and I will not even have my laptop with me. As we are getting close to the age where the kids will go off to college, these summers together feel more important than ever.
Strategy 5: Use public or shared resources to relieve some of the burden
One of main challenges with raising teens is feeling like a taxi driver – as public transportation is not always available to shuttle children around. I grew up in Washington, DC, and my father was a bus driver, so I was on the city bus to and from school and after-school activities starting at age 7. Alas, the small town we live in now does not have a great public transportation network like many cities do. So, we end up having to drive the kids around. But, we also work to minimize that. My youngest daughter has gymnastics three days a week but we rely on a car pool, and thus only have to drive her (and her two friends) across town once a week. Her school is also one mile away, so she can walk most days. The twins’ school is 1.5 miles away so they can walk sometimes too. But, what helps a lot with them is that they take advantage of in-school programming, which greatly limits the amount of chauffeuring we need to do. They have in-school afterschool tutors that help with homework and they are on the high school swim team, which means that they don’t need rides to practice.
Some parents may feel compelled to help kids with homework, but I have found that doing so just brings added stress and tension into the household. Having the kids use the in-school tutors to help them with math problems that I don’t know how to do anyway is not only more effective – it also teaches them to be more independent and to seek out the help they need.
Strategy 6: One-on-one time
Hanging out with all three of my girls can be tons of fun, and I love to watch them interact together. They can be quite a riot. However, it is important to also have some one-on-one time. This can vary from taking a short walk with one of my girls, to going to a coffee shop, to taking a day-trip together. A few weeks ago, my youngest daughter and I took the Amtrak to San Francisco and had a great time bonding, eating, and searching for the perfect souvenir.
Strategy 7: Keep work trips as short as possible
I am the first to admit that my travel schedule is out of control. (I do have a plan in place to limit my travel, so hopefully this will get better soon.) In the meantime, I have figured out that I can do a lot to limit my work trips. I don’t always have to stay for the full duration of a conference like I used to. I don’t need to agree to spend three days on campus when one day will do. I can set limits around my availability so that I am home in time to see my family. In October, for example, I was invited to give a keynote in Guatemala. It was a great opportunity for me and an exciting challenge to deliver a keynote in Spanish. I took a close look at my calendar and figured out I could leave on Sunday, spend a full day at the conference on Monday, and be back by Tuesday evening. Thus, I agreed to the invitation on those conditions. And, I even enjoyed the short trip and got tons of work done on the plane! When I only had one or two trips a semester, I often extended them out a bit. But, now that I have several, I keep them as short as possible to get home and see my family.
What strategies do you use to balance work and life when you have teenagers at home? What challenges do you face? I look forward to learning from you in the comments.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Speaking as an Academic: What to expect when you are invited to share your work

One of the joys of academic life is inviting speakers to campus and getting invited to other campuses to speak. You may be an academic who is constantly jet-setting from one campus to another or you may never have received an invitation to speak at another campus. Either way, you may have questions about what happens during these (non-interview-related) campus visits. You may also have questions about honoraria, as these vary widely. Some academics have speaker fees of thousands of dollars. Some have never received more than $500 as an honorarium. And others have given plenty of talks yet never been paid. (Based on a non-scientific Twitter poll I conducted, very few academics have ever been paid more than $2,000 as an honorarium, and many have never been compensated.)
TEDxOhioStateUniversity Speaker Dinner
I have given over fifty invited talks (paid and unpaid) and invited just as many people to my own campuses. This semester alone, I have given ten public lectures (like this one). Based on this experience, I offer some basic guidelines regarding these visits. These guidelines are meant to be useful both to invitees and inviters.

Speaker for a Seminar or Colloquium
An invitation to share your work in a seminar or colloquium will look great on your CV If you are on the tenure-track or desire to be. External letters for tenure often will say something along the lines of: “She has been invited to give 11 talks at other campuses, an indication of her visibility and prestige in the field.” These invitations continue to be important for considerations for promotion to full professor. You also can give a presentation with the hope of generating feedback to help move your thinking forward. If you are presenting on published work, giving a talk is a great way to get the word out about your work and to continue the conversation.
The audience for most of these talks are your peers – local graduate students and faculty members. Giving seminars and colloquia at other universities is a rewarding part of academia and many faculty members do not expect a generous honorarium for these sorts of seminars. If you are considering inviting a colleague to give a talk in a colloquium or seminar series, I suggest trying to find room in the budget for an honorarium because people often use these extra funds to pay for childcare and other non-reimbursable costs associated with their travel.
My understanding of general practice for these kinds of talks is that the honoraria for seminars or colloquia range from $0 to $500 yet that this varies by field. In some fields, honoraria are simply not the norm. In others, a small honorarium is expected.
Although a $500 honorarium is much appreciated, if you are deciding whether or not to accept an invitation that comes with an honorarium of $500 or less, money should not be the primary motivating factor. It rarely is worth $500 to prepare a talk, get on a plane, spend a day on another campus, and get back home exhausted. Instead, these sorts of talks should bring other, non-monetary, benefits. There are plenty of reasons to give a presentation that have nothing to do with money.
For these kinds of visits, travel expenses are covered, speakers are usually expected to spend the day on campus, meet with colleagues, and deliver their talk.
Invited, Plenary, and Keynote Speakers for a Campus Conference
When speakers are invited to participate in a conference on a college or university campus, the travel expenses are often (but not always) reimbursed. In some cases, speakers are given a small honorarium. The speakers are expected to participate in the full conference – sharing their work as well as listening to the work of others.
When the conference is large enough to have breakout sessions, there may be plenary speakers. These speakers will speak on a panel together in a room with the entire conference audience. If there is room in the conference budget, plenary speakers are often given an honorarium.
Many campus-based conferences will also include a keynote speaker who is well-known in the field. They will include this speaker on their program as part of the advertisement for the conference and the speaker will be expected to deliver a longer lecture – 45 to 60 minutes – to the entire conference audience.
Keynote speakers often get an honorarium. The size of this honorarium will depend on the resources of the host, the connection of the host to the campus, and the prestige of the keynote speaker. The honorarium will usually be larger than that given to conference speakers or speakers for departmental colloquia. Honoraria for keynotes usually start at $1,000 and go up from there. Nevertheless, academics rarely accept these kinds of invitations just for the money. Instead, they do it for the opportunity to exchange ideas with people in their subfield and to add a prestigious line to their CV. However, if you are seeking out a speaker who receives multiple invitations a year, offering a larger honorarium may make them more likely to agree to keynote your event rather than another. (If you receive more invitations to speak than you can accept, the amount of the honoraria can often help you decide which ones to accept.)
The expectation is that the conference, plenary, and keynote speakers will be involved in all conference activities. People will be disappointed if the keynote speaker just drops in to give their lecture and leave. A good keynote or plenary speaker will give an engaging talk that relates closely to the conference theme and engage with other conference participants for the duration of the conference, including participating in any meals or receptions.
Public Lecture
A public lecture is one where you are expected to speak for about an hour to a large audience, and then to take questions. There is a relatively small subset of academics who give these kinds of talks because they require a specific skill set. Delivering these talks requires the ability to deliver an engaging lecture that appeals to undergraduate students. If you are working on a timely topic, you are more likely to receive these sorts of invitations. Students are more likely to come out for a talk on extinction, climate change, human trafficking, or racial justice than on the nuances of Shakespeare or Beethoven.
Unlike conferences or departmental seminars, the audience for these talks will include more than professors and graduate students. In many cases, undergraduate students will make up the majority of attendees. In other cases, community members will also come out to hear the talk. Thus, your work (and presentation style) must appeal to a broader audience.
There is a relationship between the honorarium and the expected size and nature of the audience. If you are asked to give a public lecture with an audience of over 100 people, including many undergraduate students, it is reasonable to expect an honorarium of $1000 or more. If you are giving a talk that will attract 500 audience members, in my view, the honorarium should reflect that.
Distinguished Lecture
A Distinguished Lecture is a bit different from a public lecture. A distinguished lecture often comes with a large honorarium and generally includes a day-long (or even a multi-day) visit including the lecture, meals with colleagues, class visits, Q&A sessions, and other opportunities to interact with colleagues. Distinguished lecturers tend to be prestigious and well-known academics. One example would be an annual prize given out by a university to a person who has made groundbreaking achievements in their field. Another example would be an annual named distinguished lecture. Basically, you must be prestigious and well-known to get these invitations. The audience will vary depending on the nature of the invitation, but you can generally expect a larger percentage of the audience to be faculty members for a distinguished lecture than for a public lecture.
Contracted Speaker from an Agency
Contracted agency speakers are a whole different ballgame. This website, for example, says that fees for Professor Henry Louis Gates begin at $40,000, making Professor Marc Lamont Hill’s fees of $10,000 to $20,000 seem like a bargain. The reason these academics can charge this much is because their lecture will take place in one of the largest rooms on campus and the tickets are likely to sell out. These professors are widely known outside their discipline and even outside academia. Both Professor Gates and Professor Hill regularly appear on television and have broad name recognition. This enhances their ability to draw a large crowd, And, there is often a relationship between the size of the audience and the size of the honorarium.
Contracted Workshop with an Individual or Organization
In addition to public speakers, there are some academics and organizations who do workshops designed to attend to an institutional need. Here, the audience will be smaller, but the speakers serve as paid consultants and often charge substantial fees. A full-day workshop by an speaker from the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity will cost $9,500. Other academics do workshops on teaching and publishing that cost several thousand dollars. And organizations such as the OpEd project contract with campuses to deliver workshops.


As you can see, there is a lot of variation in the amount academics are compensated to speak at colleges and universities. This variation depends in large part on the prestige of the speaker, the nature of the invitation, the size of the audience, and whether you are dealing directly with a speaker or contracting through an agency.
To be sure, these musings are based on my personal experience, and thus may be biased towards the social sciences and the humanities and towards public universities where I have spent all of my academic career. I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments about types of campus visits and honoraria.

N.B. A version of this post was published in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

A Year in the Life of a Tenured Professor: 2016 in review

Academics, like many people, often focus on what is right in front of us. However, much of our work takes years to complete. My book that came out last year, for example, began with a proposal I wrote in 2008! Insofar as many of us are perpetually behind and barely meeting deadlines, it can feel as though we are unproductive, even when we are getting things done.

For these reasons, at the end of each calendar year, I like to reflect on what I have accomplished during the year. And, occasionally, I publish these reflections on this blog, as I did in 2012.

In 2016, my biggest accomplishment for the year is an edited volume, which will come out from Oxford University Press next Fall. That project is unusual as most of the work was completed during the calendar year of 2016. Another thing I can say I did this year is I drafted three (similar) 5-page grant proposals to request seed funding for my new project on incarceration. I also drafted and got under review two co-authored articles and three book chapters. At least half of what I did this year, then, is still under review. On the other hand, I have several articles that came out this year that required little to no effort in 2016.

This reality makes it difficult to get a handle on what I actually accomplished this calendar year. I thus find it useful to break down my accomplishments by category of effort expended in 2016. This spectrum ranges from projects I began in 2016 to articles that appeared in 2016 with no effort on my part at all.

Here is a list of works I started in 2016 and their current stages.

Works I started and finished in 2016 (for the most part)

  1. Edited volume for OUP – in production.
  2. Short article with C RnRed
  3. Article w Z and B under review
  4. Three small grants for mass incarceration project drafted and under review
  5. Short article in Spanish written and published
  6. Book chapter on DR w YC written and accepted
  7. Book chapter on racism and deportation drafted and submitted
  8. OUP Race textbook second edition first complete round of revisions
  9. 7 online essays published

There are also two pieces that were accepted in 2016. These pieces involved significant revisions of works started in a previous year.

Works accepted in 2016 (that involved substantial revisions this year)

  1. ERS article w Z accepted
  2. Obama book chapter finished and accepted
  3. Book chapter for my edited volume revised and accepted

Then, there are three articles I learned were accepted in 2016, but for which most (but not all) of the work was done in previous years.

Works accepted in 2016 (where most of the work was done in a prior year

  1. 2016. “Parallels Between Mass Incarceration and Mass Deportation: An Intersectional Analysis” Journal of World-Systems Research 22.2: 484-509 Download here.
  2. 2016. “Feeling Like a Citizen, Living as a Denizen: Deportees’ Sense of Belonging” American Behavioral Scientist doi: 10.1177/0002764216664943 Download here.
  3. 2016. ““Negative Credentials,” “Foreign-Earned” Capital, and Call Centers: Guatemalan Deportees’ Precarious Reintegration” Citizenship Studies Download here.

Additionally, there are pieces that required no effort in 2016, but that came out this past year. (I can't even remember when I wrote #4 - maybe three years ago?)

Works published in 2016 where all the work was done in prior years.

  1. 2016. “A Critical and Comprehensive Sociological Theory of Race and Racism” Sociology of Race and Ethnicity 2: 2. Read online here
  2. 2016. “Racialized and Gendered Mass Deportation and the Crisis of Capitalism” Symposium on Race and Ethnicity in the Capitalist World-System Journal of World-Systems Research. Read online here
  3. 2016. “National Insecurities: The Apprehension of Criminal and Fugitive Aliens” The Immigrant Other: Lived Experiences in a Transnational World Edited by: Rich Furman, Greg Lamphear, and Douglas Epps. Columbia University Press.
  4. 2016. “Peru” The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity, and Nationalism, First Edition. Edited by y John Stone, Rutledge M. Dennis, Polly S. Rizova, Anthony D. Smith, and Xiaoshuo Hou.
  5. 2016. Review of Beneath the Surface of White Supremacy: Denaturalizing U.S. Racisms Past and Present by Moon-Kie Jung in Political Science Quarterly.

Finally, there are several works that involved research, reading, and writing, yet are not publications.

Work that is not publications but involved research and writing
  1. 9 interviews for new project completed
  2. 4 external P&T reviews
  3. 28 article, book, and grant reviews
  4. 2 grant panel reviews
  5. Read and took notes on 12 books on mass incarceration
  6. 3 Get a Life, PhD campus workshops
  7. 1 keynote in Spanish
  8. 4 invited public lectures on Deported
  9. 4 conference presentations
  10. 18 letters of recommendations

2016 was a relatively light teaching year for me yet teaching relief was replaced with a heavy service burden as I launched our Faculty Equity Advisor Program. I did not teach in the Spring of 2016 and I taught two classes in the Fall of 2016. Throughout the year, I maintained a writing schedule of one to two hours a day. I rarely wrote for less than one hour and hardly ever wrote for more than two, even when I wasn't teaching.

I always marvel and how much you can accomplish when you focus for an hour or two each day on writing. After taking account of what I have done, I can say that 2016 was a success and I can take my well-deserved end of the year two-week vacation! See you in 2017!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Seven Steps to your First Article Submission to an Academic Journal

If you are on the brink of submitting your first article to an academic journal, congratulations! This is an exciting step in your career. In this post, I will go through the steps of submitting your first article.

  1. Find a suitable journal. This is the most important step and one you should seek advice on from knowledgeable experts. Ask at least one person who has read the latest version of your manuscript if the journal you have selected is appropriate. If you are still unsure, you can send a brief (two or three sentence) query letter to the journal editor to inquire about fit.
  2. Follow the submission instructions. Once you have selected your target journal, go to their webpage and look for instructions on how to submit. That page will have specific guidelines you must follow. These guidelines range from font to format to references to length. Follow all of the guidelines exactly. If the website has a document that says “Guidelines for authors,” read it.
  3. Get your article in the best shape you can. Review your article several times to make sure that there are no errors. Double check all in-text citations to make sure they are properly cited in the reference section. Make sure you have spelled all proper nouns (author and university names) properly. (Check out this post for a description of ‘rookie mistakes’ and how to avoid them.)
  4. De-identify yourself in the manuscript. Most journals prefer that if you cite yourself, you don’t name yourself. Instead, you will write (Author 2012) and omit that entry from the bibliography during the submission process.
  5. Write a brief and courteous cover letter. Your cover letter should be on letterhead. Address the Editor by name. (You can find their name on the website.) Provide the title of the article, the word count, and a brief statement of fit with the journal. Thank the Editor for their consideration.
  6. Submit your article to the journal and wait for a response.
  7. Wait some more. Journal review processes take time. You should be able to find out the norms in your discipline. In my discipline, after three months, it is acceptable to send a brief inquiry to the managing editor to inquire about the status of the manuscript. If you submit this inquiry, be polite.
When you finally receive a response, it will usually fall in one of four categories:
  • Accept. A straightforward accept is highly unusual and even more so for an early-career scholar. But, it does happen sometimes.
  • Conditional accept. Some journals will issue a conditional acceptance where they ask you to make specific revisions prior to publication. This is a very favorable outcome, although also fairly uncommon on a first submission. Once you make those revisions, the editor will review the manuscript in-house and publish the article if your revisions are satisfactory.
  • Revise and resubmit. This is a great outcome and has given you a real shot at publication. I have a detailed post explaining how to respond to this kind of response. I suggest you check it out.
  • Reject. Rejections, unfortunately, are very common in academia. So, hopefully, this won’t be your last rejection. The more rejections you get, the more you are submitting. There are two kinds of rejections – a desk reject and a rejection after review. If you get a desk reject, it is likely either because the article is not ready to be submitted or because you sent it to the wrong journal. The editor’s letter should indicate whether it is a question of quality or fit. A rejection after review takes longer, but often comes with helpful reviews. If you get one of these, I suggest following many of the steps that I suggest in the Revise and Resubmit post before submitting to another journal.

Publishing is the main currency of academia. It is not easy, but it is the singular most important thing you can do, especially as an early career academic. So, don’t give up!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Seven Strategies for Success On The Tenure-Track

 Securing a tenure-track position in this academic market is difficult. Of course, once you have such a position, the trials are not over, as you now have to work to achieve tenure. And the very thought of working towards tenure can be overwhelming.  

Summit

However, I encourage tenure-track faculty members not only to think about achieving tenure but to be strategic and focused to ensure you are on the right path. Even if tenure is a few years off, new tenure-track faculty can take a few important steps now (other than, of course, work on publishing their dissertations, improving their courses and developing new research projects). Here are a few examples.

1. Check out the tenure documentation. What forms are you going to have to fill out when you go up for tenure? If possible, secure a copy of those forms so that you can see what information you will be asked to provide when you make your tenure case. Many colleges and universities have a mid-career or third-year review process, which is identical to the tenure review. That can help familiarize you with the process.

2. Develop an “aspirational tenure CV” for yourself. You should include in it all of the things you would like to have accomplished by the time you are up for tenure. If you are in the humanities, that probably will include a book and perhaps multiple articles. (If you are unclear about the expectations, this post has some suggestions for how to figure those out.) Also include conference presentations, service obligations, teaching accolades, invited lectures and anything else that you think will help you make your case for tenure. This will help you to see the bigger picture more clearly. Once you have your aspirational CV, use it to develop your long-term plan for tenure.

3. Create a list of your external reviewers. One of the best pieces of advice that I received on the tenure-track was to make a list of 12 people in my field whom I admire, and then to make it a point to contact them while I was on the tenure-track. If you write this list in your first year, you only have to contact two people per year over the next six years. You can reach out in a variety of ways. You can invite them to have coffee at a conference. You can send them a recently-published article of yours that you think they might find interesting. You can send them feedback or questions about an article or book that they recently published. I recommend contacting them in a way that feels natural or comfortable to you and that engages with your shared research interests. Most universities expect that external reviewers will be at similar or more highly ranked institutions than your own, so keep that in mind when you formulate your list.

4. Network to establish a national reputation. At many research universities, having a national reputation is a vital component of your tenure case. For that reason, it is important to make sure that other scholars are aware that you exist and know about your work. One example of a way to do this is to organize a panel at a national conference in your discipline. That will put you in touch with scholars in your field and increase your visibility. Another strategy is to invite prominent scholars to your campus. If your university has funds to do so, suggest people in your field to ask to deliver talks. (This also can permit you to check a name off your list from the previous suggestion.) In some universities, it is also expected that you will be invited to share your research at other campuses to demonstrate that you have a national reputation. Finally, a blog in your field publishes guest posts, try to publish your own on it. (In my field, Border Criminologies is an example of this kind of blog, and they accept guest posts.)

5. Figure out what kind of service you like. What is the right kind of service for you? Do you like serving on review panels? Do you like curriculum development? Do you like organizing seminars? Do you want to be on the athletics committee in the hopes of scoring free basketball tickets? Once you determine what kind of service you like, you may want to be proactive and search out those kinds of opportunities. That way, when other opportunities arise, you can say that you are already occupied with service tasks. It is, of course, crucial to know that you can say “no” to service requests, especially when your “no” is accompanied by a good explanation. When thinking about what kind of service opportunities you will seek out, be mindful of the expectations at your institution. Some institutions expect some form of departmental, university, community and national service. Other institutions are less concerned about national service yet have higher expectations for local service. Be clear about these expectations.

6. Teach effectively and efficiently. Robert Boice found that successful new faculty members spend no more than two hours preparing for each hour of class. Seek out advice from more seasoned colleagues about how to be a more efficient grader and more effective teacher. Ask your colleagues how much time they spend preparing for class and grading papers to make sure that your efforts are near the norm in your department. (See this blog post for additional tips.)

7. Know your evaluation criteria and use them as a guide. Your university may have straightforward criteria. When I worked at the University of Kansas, the evaluation criteria were: 40 percent research, 40 percent teaching, and 20 percent service, and I tried to make sure to spend about that percentage of time every week in each of those areas. (I actually printed out a document that said I would spend 3.2 hours a day on research, 3.2 hours on teaching, and 1.6 hours on service and stuck it on my wall.) Your university may not have such clear criteria, but you should be able to estimate how much value is given to each area and make an attempt to align your work hours with those expectations.

It can be overwhelming to be starting a new tenure-track position. But life on the tenure track does not have to be tortuous. Develop clear goals for yourself for tenure and work towards those a little bit every day. Six years is a long time to be stressed out and worried, so figure out ways that you can minimize that stress and worry. Do what you can to not only survive but also to thrive on the tenure track.

Reposted from: Inside Higher Ed

Friday, October 21, 2016

Doing Service Work on Purpose as a Full Professor

Everyone says that when you are promoted to Full Professor, the service burden increases dramatically. Having been promoted a few months ago, I can say that my service burden increased dramatically and immediately. This is not surprising give the research that shows that women put in an average of five more hours of service than their male counterparts. I should say, however, that my service burden this year is almost entirely self-inflicted. To put it more politely, I have been proactive with regard to my service responsibilities this academic year.

I have been proactive so that I can do the sort of service work that I find meaningful. For me, that means making the place I work more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. I work at the University of California, Merced. We are relatively unusual for a high-research-activity university in that our student population is very diverse. This year, 76 percent of our incoming class are first generation college students and 55 percent are Chicano/Latino. Our next largest ethnic group is Asians, who constitute 18 percent of our incoming class. Given the demographics of our student body, faculty diversity is a priority for me.

The Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Faculty at UC Merced
Although student body is primarily Latino and Asian, our faculty members are primarily white. Half of all instructional faculty are white; 21 percent are Asian; 14 percent are Latino, 3 percent are black, and 2 percent are Native American. These numbers, notably, include all instructional faculty, many of whom are temporary. The faculty members are less diverse as we move up the prestige ladder. Whereas 44 percent of all instructional faculty are women, only 22 percent of full professors are women. Minorities constitute 43 percent of all tenure-track faculty, yet only 25 percent of full professors. Of 373 teaching faculty, in 2015, there were 4 African-American lecturers, 3 Assistant Professors, and 2 Associate Professors. We still have no African American Full Professors. In 2015, Latinos made up 12 percent of the Assistant Professors, 9 percent of the Associate Professors, and 9 percent of the Full Professors. (Looking at the data more closely, we also see that a large percentage of our Latino faculty were born and raised in South America and Spain.)

In light of the disparities between our student body and our faculty, I decided to serve as the Inaugural Chair of the Diversity and Equity Committee of the Senate last year. Although diversity, equity, and inclusion are all important, we decided to focus most of our energies on faculty diversity for the moment, as our university plans to hire over one hundred faculty members over the next four years, as part of our $1.3 billion expansion. I find all of this very exciting: the opportunity to really build something!

The Diversity and Equity Committee looked into best practices for enhancing the diversity and equity of faculty, and we learned that other University of California campuses have begun using Faculty Equity Advisors. (One of the great things about creating a campus in the UC system as there are many great examples we can draw from so we never have to reinvent the wheel.) We thus spent the year developing a proposal to institute Faculty Equity Advisors on our campus. Our proposal was approved by the Divisional Council of the Faculty Senate, and the Provost agreed to provide the funds and institute the program this Fall. Yep, that’s right, less than a year from idea to implementation – one of the very satisfying things about working on a small and growing campus.

This academic year, I agreed to serve as the Chair of the Diversity and Equity Committee again and also as one of the four campus Faculty Equity Advisors. We will be hiring nearly fifty people this year, with many of those searches happening in cluster hires. We have cluster hires in Sustainability, Inequality, Power and Social Justice, Human Health Sciences, and Adaptive and Functional Matter. These 16 positions are open rank and in almost every discipline, so if you haven't applied: what are you waiting for?

But, I digress. I was telling you about the Faculty Equity Advisor.  As Faculty Equity Advisor, my role is to:

  • Meet with Unit Chair or Dean to discuss composition of Search Committee and explain the importance of a diverse Search Committee.
  • Meet with Search Committee Chair. Discuss Search Plan, advertisement, and active recruitment strategies. Ask Search Chair to work with Search Committee to develop diversity benchmarks for candidate pool.
  • Review and approve Search Plan.
  • Meet with Search Committee to discuss implicit bias, the development of evaluation criteria, and how to evaluate the Contribution to Diversity Statement.
  • Review applicant pool to ensure applicant pool approximates availability pool in terms of diversity.
  • Review and approves finalist list.
  • Provide guidance to Search Committee with regard to on-campus candidates. Ensure candidates are connected with any relevant affinity groups on campus.


As you can see from the job description, being a Faculty Equity Advisor requires a lot of meetings. It also requires getting up to speed with the literature on best practices for faculty diversity. Luckily, there are tons of online resources. Even better, they tend to make similar recommendations.

The reports on best practices tend to recommend talking about diversity and implicit bias with Search Committees, doing broad outreach for searches, developing clear evaluation criteria, and having diversity on Search Committees. We have tried to implement these practices and I look forward to letting you know at the end of the year what works and what does not.

I also look forward to reading your feedback on our approach as well as ideas for strategies that have worked (or not) on your campus.

This is the first year of the Faculty Equity Advisor Program, and I am excited to see what the outcomes are with regard to the 50 hires we will complete this year. I will write a post and the end of the year to report on what we have learned with this effort.

And, in case you were wondering, I have still been getting my writing in, as that will always be my priority. With the increased service responsibilities and the concomitant need to be on campus more, I have been waking up at 5am every day, writing for at least one hour, going for a quick run, and then going to campus to take care of business.


Friday, September 23, 2016

How to be a prolific academic writer

I often hear academics worry they are not putting enough time into writing. But, how much is enough? For me, two hours of writing every weekday is more than enough time to be extremely productive.

For the past ten years, I have written for two hours a day, five days a week, and taken at least four weeks of vacation every year. With that schedule, I have written more than many scholars will write in their entire careers.

Writers writing #ccretreat14
Writers writing for two hours a day at the Creative Connections Retreat

I am telling you this not to brag, but to make the case that two hours of writing can be more than enough. Of course, this does not mean that I write for two hours and then sit around and eat cherries for the rest of the day. In contrast, I write for two hours, and then spend the remainder of the workday responding to the 50+ emails I get on a daily basis, attending meetings, reading, preparing class, teaching, and doing many of the other tasks required of academics. Each day, I carve at least two hours out of my day to write. (In case you are wondering what I mean by "write," here is a list of ten ways to write every day.)

These two hours a day have been more than enough for me. I began daily writing nearly ten years ago, in January of 2007. Ever since I began, I have endeavored to write for about two hours each day. I rarely write for less than one hour and almost never write for more than three hours, even during summer or when I am on research leave. With this consistency, I have written a lot over the past ten years.

What have I done in 10 years?

I have written, revised, and published 12 peer-reviewed journal articles.
I have four articles that were published between 2005 and 2008. I would not count those as part of this tally, as two of them were accepted prior to I began daily writing. The other two had been written, but required some revising. We can definitely count the other 12 articles I have published since 2009 as I began writing those from scratch after 2007.

I have written, revised, and published 15 book chapters and invited articles.
As for my book chapters, I will not count the four book chapters I published in 2008 or earlier, as those had already been at least partially drafted by the time I began daily writing. I have written and published 15 book chapters and invited articles since 2007.

I have written, revised, and published 4 books.
I have published five books. My first book, Yo Soy Negro: Blackness in Peru, is based on my dissertation, which I defended in 2005. I had already begun the revisions by 2007 but certainly spent a lot of time between 2007 and 2010 revising and re-revising it until I finally sent off the final version in February 2010. I wrote my other four books from scratch since 2007.

I have written and published lots and lots of blog posts and online essays.
I have also published 74 OpEds and online essays in addition to about 150 blog posts.

So, what can you accomplish by writing for two hours a day, five days a week? In my case, it looks like in ten years, you can write four books, 15 book chapters and essays, and 12 articles. A normal tenure review is about half that time – five years. And, half of what I have accomplished in these past ten years would exceed the bar for tenure in most places. Finally, this is a conservative estimate as I am not counting the three articles and two book chapters I have under review nor the edited volume that is nearing completion.

A lot has happened in these ten years. I moved to Chicago for a one-year post-doctoral fellowship. I spent a year traveling to four countries to do research for my book, Deported. I moved to Merced to start a position at UC-Merced. Each of these moves derailed my writing patterns temporarily. But, the important thing is that I have always eventually been able to get back on track and find my writing mojo.

In sum, carving 30 minutes, an hour, or two hours out of your schedule every day for writing is a great way to achieve tremendous productivity. Instead of feeling as if you have to write all day every day, I encourage you to write a little bit every day and see what you can accomplish.