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Research on Midcareer Professors by Tamara Beauboeuf to be Presented Today at National Conference

January 26, 2017

beauboeuf classPreliminary research by Tamara Beauboeuf, professor of women’s, gender and sexuality studies at DePauw University, and two colleagues -- Karla Erickson, associate dean and chair of sociology at Grinnell College, and Jan E. Thomas, senior associate provost and professor of sociology and women’s studies at Kenyon College -- will be presented today at the annual meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities in San Francisco.  

"Midcareer, tenured faculty members power their institutions, but many also suffer from something like middle-child syndrome," reports Inside Higher Ed, which spotlights the work. "Past the defined demands of achieving tenure but often still relative newbies, they can get lost in the institutional fray. Preliminary research to be presented here today ... gives new insight into these professors’ thoughts and experiences and proposes a framework for thinking about them -- one that cuts through stereotypes that they’re unmotivated."

EastCollege 002Their work is titled "Rethinking the Midcareer Malaise: New Lessons From Posttenure Liberal Arts Faculty." Colleen Flaherty writes, "Beyond wanting to challenge prevailing ideas about posttenure professors, they had a bit of personal motivation: all are midcareer professors themselves. Hoping to elicit meaningful responses from their subjects -- all posttenure, pre-retirement-minded professors on their three campuses -- Erickson, Thomas and Beauboeuf avoided detailed questions about workload and focused rather on mind-set. They used developmental model language for a survey that led to subsequent in-person interviews."

Flaherty notes, "Beauboeuf said it helps to think less about types than 'pathways' for posttenure faculty members to follow, pathways which reflect the 'degree to which faculty needs and growth are taken up by the opportunities and rewards of their institutions.' Ideally, she said, 'there would be a synergy between both -- and we do have evidence of this -- but our research also attunes us to the ways faculty who engage in labor that is critical but invisible in the reward structure, or who have been hurt through disparagement of their contributions and competence, are placed on pathways of reduced career satisfaction and weakened connection to the institution.'"

You'll find the article, "Midcareer Professors Need Love, Too," here.

Source: Inside Higher Ed

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