Tuesday, July 20, 2004

No, silly, you're not stuck 

This was me five years ago:
Another summer, and I'm in the same spot. I earned my Ph.D. at 25, got a tenure-track job, published two books, made full professor. I teach at Very Respectable U. with excellent research grants and teaching opportunities, and I've won fellowships and awards. But there's not much intellectual stimulation here.

My dream is to teach at a first-rate, liberal-arts college, though I'd settle for decent grad students. I'm also, right now, socially isolated. I have no partner, am older than the interesting new hires, and have a rather pathetic tendency to answer simple questions with, "Let me explain why it works that way ... in the early 1990s ... then at the end of the decade ... and the latest innovation ...." I make people's eyes glaze over.

Most jobs advertised at my level are for administrators, but I'm somewhat disorganized, less socially adept than many, and don't have a mentor. Things aren't awful, but I've been here 15 years and I'm afraid if I stay, I'll feel more and more trapped. Is there any way to improve my job mobility?
I'm not Agatha, but I can make people's eyes glaze over, and I refer to our young hires now as kids. I became a department chair three years ago, just starting my second term, and frankly it's not going to change much of my life after all. I could be the administrator which means only that the problems she cites -- lack of organization, social ineptitude, lack of mentoiring -- would be my problems too. (OK, I don't think I'm really that inept socially, but neither do I find schmoozing to be something done without a nearby shower.) Click the link at the beginning to see Ms. Mentor's answers to Agatha. If you want, Aggie, take a spin on the department chair-mobile. Then, if you're like me, you'll go back to research, your students, and at last time to read books you don't have to read. Which is how you got here anyway, isn't it?