Founding Co-Director of Faith Voices for the Common Good
not want to work full-time for various reasons, such as raising children,
caring for parents, running a business (i.e., consulting), wanting more time to
research and write, or engaging in a consuming hobby. Or, you may not need to
work full time. Couples sometimes take a single full-time position, share the
work, and negotiate benefits for both. If your financial circumstances do not
require you to work full-time, a half-time job split can be an interesting
If you can
find another scholar in your field who shares a similar interest in half-time
work, you may want to consider submitting a joint application for one position.
The advantage gained by the institution at the expense of one extra set of
benefits is the additional perspective and voice to the faculty, department,
and committee. Given that people of color are always asked to serve on
committees to "diversify" them, having two instead of one on a
faculty provides added value.
things to consider when deciding to try a job-share arrangement:
- Is the
person comfortable to work with? You will need to negotiate hours,
workload, contract, tenure etc., so it is important that you trust your
job-share partner and know him/her well enough to work with him/her.
Whether the person is your life partner, a good friend, or a colleague,
you will need to be able to labor closely with the person negotiating
contracts and dividing up the work.
what will happen if one of you wants to leave or work full-time. People’s
lives and circumstances change, often for unforeseeable reasons, so it is
a good idea to have some idea of what either of you will do in the event
one of you has to withdraw from the job-share arrangement. You should
consider having your share arrangements in writing, regardless of the
relationship you have outside of work.
- Be sure
you understand the hiring institution’s rules about outside work. They may
not have policies that cover job-share situations. If not, negotiate how
this will work and GET THE AGREEMENT IN WRITING (it’s always a good idea
to get any rule exceptions in writing, since administrators can change and
new ones will not necessarily honor your oral agreements with past
- Is the
position tenurable? Some institutions will give tenure to a job-share
situation, but with a slower tenure clock or some other caveat. Be sure to
ask about this possibility and negotiate for it if you want tenure. Same
with sabbatical arrangements.
for benefits for both. This may require you to offer some extra work
beyond a full time position. Such extras might include committee service
beyond the expectations for one person, some extra student advising, one
extra course every other year, or something similar. With your partner,
work out ahead of time your ideas about extra work and what you plan to
offer, so you can both negotiate from the same page.
work has its cons and pros. The cons are that many institutions have turned to
increased use of adjunct professors because it is easier to hire per course
than fund an ongoing position with benefits and tenure, and most institutions
pay too little per course for the time required (sometimes below minimum wage,
if you actually put the number of hours in required for good teaching). Adjunct
positions mean a reduction in the availability of full-time, tenure track jobs.
The pros are that there are more adjunct positions available, and not everyone
wants a full-time position, with all the work involved.
Reasons for Taking Adjunct Work:
- You need
teaching experience on your vita. The type of experience gained from
teaching your own course is different from being a teaching assistant to a
professor. Your own course means you have to determine content, structure,
and requirements, construct the syllabus, and administrate the entire
course. People who hire junior faculty are often reassured about your
ability to handle the first year on a job if you’ve taught before.
- You want
to develop collegial relationships outside your graduate program. Find
colleagues who can write letters on your behalf and who have related to
you as a professional, rather than as a grad student.
- You love
to teach and are willing to work for very little pay, just to stay in the
classroom. Or you don’t need the income and prefer to teach without demands
for advising or committee service.
- You want
to experiment with innovative, alternative teaching methods that might put
you at risk in a full-time, tenure-track position.
working in another profession, you want to keep a teaching line active on
your vita so you can continue to seek full-time teaching positions.
believe, if the institution gets to know you and your work in teaching,
they may become interested in hiring you for something full time, if it
develops. This is a gamble, but perhaps worth it if you do not want to
move. In the meantime, you should keep working on publishing and research.
scholars of color have been in the field long enough to consider becoming
administrators is good news. Those with an interest in it or talent for it
should seriously consider taking on administrative responsibilities, beginning
with chairing committees, departments, or boards, or serving on administrative
boards. It also doesn’t hurt to develop some experience with fundraising and
If you are
considering such a move, find an administrator you trust and admire for their
work and ask them about the work. Most are happy and willing to serve as a
Reasons to Choose Administration
manage funds, which are a source of institutional power and a means to put
your ideals to practical use by designing or supporting good programs,
influencing faculty hires, helping deserving students, etc. Skillful
administrators can do enormous good for institutions, especially those
with both vision and practical skills, such as fundraising or program
already done some volunteer work on boards and committees and have
developed experience observing administrators in action, supervising the
work of administrators, and understanding institutional structures and
widens the world to which you relate and to which you are responsible. You
are likely to become knowledgeable about things that escaped you as a
faculty member, knowledge which can be useful as you negotiate
institutional politics and change.
to a wider world also means your responsibilities shift. You become
accountable for the well-being of the whole institution, and, though your
heart may be with a particular group or person, you may have to make
decisions that go against where your heart is. This can result in your
support group or friends regarding you as the enemy, especially when legal
matters are involved and you are not free to be transparent about what is
happening. For example, say that you are an Academic Dean and a colleague
of color who is accused of a crime has organized an advocacy group on her
or his behalf. You may feel this colleague is falsely accused, but you may
have to suspend the person until the case is resolved, or, if she or he is
found guilty, you may be required to institute a process of termination,
even if you still believe the person is innocent. In another case, you
could chair a board in which a good friend is head of the organization,
but you have not interacted with this friend as an administrator. Over
time, you begin to see that your friend’s performance, even with
suggestions and support, is increasingly incompetent, which leads to you
to ask for their resignation. Or, your school declares financial exigency,
and it becomes evident that you will be required to terminate senior
faculty. If such scenarios are too painful a prospect to consider, you
should think carefully about what it will take out of your soul to fulfill
your responsibility to the whole.
time will be much more structured than your time as a professor was. You
will have many more meetings to attend and far less, or even no time in
the classroom. Most major administrative positions are 12 month contracts,
so you may no longer have the summer months to do research and writing as
you may have before. You will have to find ways to carve out time for your
own scholarly work. Such time constraints require a fair amount of
personal discipline or the demands on your time will spin out of control.
addition, you will be asked to perform or donate administrative work outside
your institution, for example on accreditation teams, national associations,
etc. You should not neglect these wider responsibilities, but be judicious
about which ones you choose to accept.
- You can
stay too long in an administrative position. Most of us run out of ideas,
burn out, or go stale if we stay too long. Few people can stay more than
about 10 years. And, if you follow someone who has had a long tenure, you
will have to do some of the work interims must do to clear space for your
own leadership style and goals.
institutions have rules that prohibit sabbaticals for administrators, or
that do not grant full sabbaticals to administrators. You should consider
posing questions regarding such restrictions before you decide if you can
do such work.
- How much
do you love teaching? Will you be happy teaching less or not at all?
- Can you
discipline your time so as to keep the resulting stress as low as
possible? If stress in your personal life is high, administrative work
will not help, and you won’t want to take out personal stress on people at
- Are you
good at stress management? Do you have good ways to relieve stress in your
life now? Whatever you do now, stress relief will be harder to maintain
and it will become more crucial that you find healthy ways to deal with
for as much as you can, such as adequate sabbatical time, vacation time,
writing time, salary, benefits, etc. As is the case with faculty hires,
you have a great deal of power to negotiate when the job is offered, not
after you have taken it.
- Talk to
an administrator you know and respect at another institution in a similar
job, or someone retired from such a position, and ask them what to expect,
what to negotiate for, etc. Find someone like this to mentor you as you
take a new position.
- Keep a
support system and life outside the institution and job - take the time
needed to maintain these. This is important for your own sanity and sense
of perspective, and you will model healthy work habits for those you
supervise. It will help you not to take what happens at work personally,
and also help you stay honest to who you are.
- Keep or
develop a sense of humor about yourself and your work. Humor helps relieve
stress and ameliorates the dangers of taking on too much personally. It
helps to remember that what people do is about them, not about us, even
when their behavior impacts us.
program officer in your field of expertise can be interesting work, as in
helping other scholars in academe or organizations do important work in the
society. The work is administrative, requires astute judgment and ability to
assess feasibility of proposals, and calls for a willingness to tell many
people "no." It also helps to have vision about creative programs. It
is satisfying to see projects and organizations flourish with support. Talk to
a program officer you know about this kind of work.
If you run
a grant-giving program, you will need to be willing to be firm about applying
policies to make sure applicants get fair consideration. You will find that
people want to talk to you in order to lobby for their agenda, get around
rules, or stretch deadlines. It helps to have policies for how you handle
lobbying and you should apply them as consistently as possible.
If you are
a self-starter, can handle a fair amount of uncertainty and chaos, have
fundraising skills, and are nimble at handling change, you may have the
entrepreneurial skills for creating a new organization. You may want to work or
volunteer at a similar kind of non-profit before you launch your own.
consider whether or not you have the financial means to support yourself as you
get a new organization on sound financial footing, or consider starting one
while you are employed. The paperwork for filing nonprofit status takes
approximately 100 hours, or more if this is your first try at it. It is worth
hiring an experienced lawyer to do this, if you have the resources.
begin by creating a list of people who can help you. You will need to put
together a board with relevant expertise in areas you will need help, create
by-laws, develop financial policies, compile a donor base, write grants, hire
staff, etc. There are many good websites with advice for managing a nonprofit,
for example, Starting a Nonprofit Organization has detailed information.
The Alliance for Non-profit Management has an active People of Color Group and offers
management advice and conferences.
want to make substantial money or a living as a writer outside the textbook
market (textbook markets can be lucrative), you will need to do several things:
- If you
haven’t already, take some writing courses for the kind of writing you
plan to do and read the work of a lot of good writers in your area to find
out what is already out in the marketplace. Successful trade writing is a
skill, and, training in academic prose is counterproductive to good trade
writing. The more you read academic prose and work in that world, the
harder it is to write for trade.
should consider hiring a trade editor to help you write for trade, if you
don’t know how to do this. If you know an author whose writing you like,
ask them if they use someone. Rates for editors run about $40-60 an hour,
depending on the part of the country and the kind of work you want done.
- Get an
agent. If you know any of the writers you have read, ask them whom they
use. You will need to prepare a good book proposal, include a sample of
writing, and present the package to an agent to see if they want to
contract to sell your book. Reputable agents work on a percentage
commission, not a flat fee. An agent will shop your book to publishers and
try to get you the best deal. Many trade presses actually prefer to work
with agents, rather than writers directly. Of course, religious publishing
houses and non-profit presses can’t afford big advances most of the time
and prefer to deal directly with authors. There are a number of websites
for agents, if you don’t know a writer.
of whether you have an agent or not, you should consider the following
will need to decide on whether you think the press you select will pay
attention to your work and promote it. Large trade presses publish many
books, and only the big stars or sure money makers get the full court
public relation press. A smaller, less comprehensive press might give
your book more attention and be better for its sales, but be sure you
work with a press that is experienced at handling trade books.
hiring a publicist, if your publisher isn’t doing enough to promote your
book. Learn to talk in sound bites and seek out interviews with the media
- You will
need to work aggressively on marketing and public relations for your book.
Write op-eds, letters to the editor, or otherwise put your ideas out to a
readership. An author is always the best sales agent for her or his own
is something some academics do as part of their work outside their
institutions. If you are successful it can turn into a career, but, as with
other forms of contract work, it is not as reliable a source of income as
salaried work. Talk to other consultants or explore consultant websites for how
to set up such a business related to the services you want to offer.