Unit 1: Planning for Promotion and Tenure
you are passionate about and make it your avocation.
"One has to
be fairly stubborn and persistent to do this work."
Almost any book you pick up on leadership or personal and professional development devotes some attention to the importance of vision to ground and to guide your actions (Senge, 1990; Heifetz, 1994). Exactly what that entails, however, can be difficult to pin down and can be highly individual. Scholarship project faculty spoke of their vision for community engagement that went well beyond their concern for institutional recognition through standard requirements for promotion and tenure. These faculty took professional risks to engage with communities to create innovative, funded programs that worked. Faculty weighed the costs for their work, some fairly strategically. For example, one faculty member purposefully came off the tenure track at a research one institution so that it would give her more time to generate academic products without having to leave the communities with whom she worked. This work is their passion and because of this, they have found creative ways to navigate the academic system and be effective agents for improving the health of communities.
We have included this section to encourage you to reflect on how your vision intersects with the work you do as a faculty member. We have also included this section to encourage you to consider how your vision can be integrated into your career statement when you create your promotion and tenure portfolio.
Professors, Scholarship Project Faculty
In a nutshell, having a vision is knowing who you are and what you want. It is an overarching framework of values and principles that guide you in navigating a path of personal and professional development as a faculty member. A clear understanding of your personal values, priorities, and goals for your work provides a foundation for staying the course in the face of inevitable obstacles or setbacks, as well as for assessing and deciding upon new opportunities.
To be effective, a guiding vision needs to be grounded in serious reflection about what motivates your work and what taps your personal energies. At the same time, your vision needs to be flexible enough to take into account the real opportunities available to pursue your work.
Your vision thus provides a center from which you can act in a multitude of circumstances. A vision connects and integrates the different parts of your life, the different roles you play and responsibilities you undertake. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey writes of developing a "personal mission statement" or "constitution" that gives "expression to what we want to be and to do in our lives." (Covey, p. 129) This statement of vision seeks to identify the guiding principles we wish to guide our lives, to identify the various roles in which we need to apply those principles, and to prioritize those roles as well. Vision serves as an internal compass for navigating the competing demands of a variety of external forces and expectations.
Parker Palmer, in Let Your Life Speak, emphasizes that vision based on what we think we want is bound to change as we gain knowledge of ourselves. It requires a deep self-examination to finally arrive at an honest understanding of calling. (Palmer).
"Make sure you have a plan. Set priorities and give yourself a reality check."
"It's a game of survival; figure out what works, evaluate where you are going and think through how to get there."
(Associate Professor, Scholarship Project Faculty)
Vision is more than a set of aspirations and goals. Goals are the concrete steps that you set and pursue in trying to give expression to vision. Goals may be completed, but vision is rarely fully expressed. Your vision may remain intact even as goals need to be rethought and or abandoned as the circumstances or context in which you are pursuing them changes.
Not all faculty in the Scholarship Project came to their respective institutions with a specific focus for the exact program or project they were going to develop. Rather, they came with skills, training and a goal (i.e. health care access, HIV prevention, increasing community capacity) and allowed their vision to crystallize as their relationship with community partners developed, and then quickly took advantage of funding opportunities to create innovative and sustainable programs.
"Don't try to do projects or
initiatives if it becomes impossible."
As a faculty member, it is critical that you pay attention to how your personal vision fits with the mission of the institution and department where you work. If the match is not close enough, you may face burnout trying to meet demands for advancement that do not fit with your own needs for meaningful work, or else devoting too much energy to trying to reshape the institution to allow greater expression of your own vision. Some compromise is always necessary, but you need to be aware of the demands at the outset if you are going to be able to maintain your vision and pursue meaningful goals.
At any place and time, particular aspects of your vision may be less practical than others. Stephen Covey suggests identifying those elements that lie within your current "circle of influence"-those things which you have the power to change-rather than wasting time fretting over the things in your "circle of concern", which are beyond your control. With patience and perseverance you can work to gradually expand your circle of influence and create ways to more fully realize your vision.
Faculty in the Scholarship Project spoke of the critical need to foster the "integration of research, teaching and service in community-based efforts. If it becomes integrated, one faculty emphasized "that it is a better utilization of time and effort" and creates a coherent focus to one's work. Sometimes it requires saying 'no' to requests for involvement, and to doing less activities in order to focus your efforts in a few areas where you can best use your strengths and take the time to develop relationships with community partners.
Developing a Personal Vision
One's vision can be much broader and reflective than one's career statement (link to career statement section) since it tends to incorporate both one's personal and professional values and goals. Yet, for the sake of efficiency, it can be useful to be thinking how to craft your vision and eventually incorporate parts of it into your career statement in your portfolio. It harkens back to the need for integration and coherent focus that faculty spoke consistently about. Below are some questions to reflect upon that have been adapted from Covey's visions exercise-"begin with the end in mind." (Covey p. 96)
Please click here for examples of faculty members' statements which contain discussion of their own vision and goals.
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