Jul 28, 2010

CNU Management Professor Collaborates with U Penn Wharton Business School Faculty in Study of First-Year Faculty

(Newport News, Va.) - CNU management and marketing professor Darren Good will present “Daring to Care for Early Career Faculty: Innovative Models to Support Transition and Foster Success,” as a special All Academy presentation at the Academy of Management Conference in Montreal, Canada, on Aug. 8. Professor Good partnered with Meredith Myers of the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business and Marc Lavine of University of Mass. Boston to track the successes, trials and tribulations of first-year faculty members around the world.

“New faculty members experience significant challenges upon entering their academic careers,” notes Good based on past research. They must master teaching, research and service while simultaneously navigating the unique tenure process at their respective institutions. New faculty arrive in an occupation that is classified as high in psychological demand and low in control. These factors may contribute to the first-year faculty experience being marked by high anxiety, challenges with time management, feelings of isolation, tension within families and a perception of dissonance between time spent (mostly teaching) and rewards received (mostly provided through research). Most first-year faculty report high expectations for joining a community of high collegiality, and this can result in the outcome of “professional loneliness,” all the more disturbing. 

As a result faculty who enter academia with the highest hopes for success and fulfillment often struggle to appropriately navigate this career transition. Sometimes this leads to a failure to earn tenure, but more often a transition process marked by frustration and lack of satisfaction.

To meet these demands, over the past year (beginning in August 2009) a diverse group of new management faculty members formed a geographically dispersed, online community. They “met” online to share their weekly high and low points of being a first-year faculty member, and serve as a support and learning mechanism for first-year professional practice. Posts in a blog type setting were made, and other members of the online community could then comment and offer support or helpfully commiserate from their own experience. It made the traditionally uneasy time of adjustment easier as new professors saw other new professors struggling in a similar way. 

What emerged was a new way to organize and provide support, learning and guidance from others going through a similar experience. The findings from this project, based on interviews and context analysis, have shown substantial supportive capacities, and the organizers (from CNU and Wharton) are rolling out this online mechanism to a much larger set of first-year management faculty starting this fall. These experiences are being tracked for research into ways that professors and eventually other professionals in transition, can best support each other through shared reflective spaces.

The Academy of Management is the leading association for those who study and teach management, with 20,000 members from more than 100 countries.

A four-year public university in Newport News, Virginia, Christopher Newport University enrolls 5,000 students in rigorous academic programs in the liberal arts and sciences through the College of Arts and Humanities, the College of Natural and Behavioral Sciences, and the College of Social Sciences, including the Luter School of Business. CNU offers great teaching and small class sizes with an emphasis on leadership, civic engagement and honor.

Media Contact:
Lori Jacobs
Director of Public Relations
lori.jacobs@cnu.edu

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