Saturday, April 29, 2017

Academic Leadership Part 4--Going Mobile vs. Promotion in Place

Photo by Bob Brinkmann.
Recently I led a workshop with my terrific colleague, Terri Shapiro, on academic leadership. We split the workshop into two parts. I covered introductory topics around academic leadership and how to find a position to fits one's skills and Terri reviewed information on how to avoid pitfalls once in a leadership position.

In this multipart series, I will review some of the highlights from my part of the presentation. Part 1 introduced the series and defined academic leadership. The second post detailed how to find a position that is right for one's skills. In the third part, I reviewed 4 simple ways that you can create opportunities for advancement. Today I will review issues around whether to find opportunities at one's current institution or whether to ponder a move.  Part 5 will consider what step-up skills to build as one prepares to advance. Finally, Part 6 summarizes the steps one should take to start to advance within an organization. The complete series is linked here.

Another thing to consider is whether you like your location.
Not everyone will fit into New York or New Mexico.
This is the new Oculus in New York City. Photo by Bob
There are three simple questions to ponder about the next step in your career as to whether to consider a move for advancement or whether you can find a way to earn a promotion at your current job.

1. Is the opportunity you want available at your institution? Some people are amazing administrators and stay at their administrative jobs for a long time. Of course some people are also poor administrators and stay at their administrative jobs too long. If you are considering some type of promotion at your institution, you should survey the landscape of the promotional ladder. Are there promotion possibilities for you in the near future? It doesn't hurt to have a conversation with people holding administrative positions to determine what opportunities might be available in the future. There may be changes coming and it might be good for people in a position to make decisions to know of your interest in taking on greater responsibility.

Not every place can be Oxford, but can you find happiness
at your institution? Photo of Oxford University by Bob
2. Do you like your colleagues and your institution? Every university has its own culture. Some people fit into the culture and some do not. Plus, each department within a university has its own social dynamic that may or may not work for individual faculty members. If you are unhappy at a university or department, it is a sign that you may wish to consider looking for administrative opportunities at another institution. We have all seen the miserable senior colleague who complains about their university and their colleagues. Why be that person?

3. What opportunities are out there? Many faculty members who earn tenure do not recognize that tenure is often mobile. What I mean by that is that if you earn tenure at one institution, you can usually carry that tenure with you to another institution as long as you have the research record that would be expected at that place. This allows us to be mobile to take on chair, dean, or other administrative positions at other institutions. At any given moment, there are usually hundreds of administrative jobs open at universities around the world and there is likely a fit for those interested in finding opportunities elsewhere. One can conduct searches for academic jobs at or


Coming up next, I will review some step up skills that one could consider gaining as one explores administrative options.

Previous posts on this series:

Academic Leadership Part 3--Creating Opportunities for Advancement

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