Perceptions of Early Career Faculty: Managing the Transition from Graduate School to the Professorial Career

Jerry Berberet
Vice President for Academic Affairs, Carroll College
Founding Executive Director, Associated New American Colleges
TIAA-CREF Institute Fellow

June 2008 | Issue # 92

Faculty in the first five years of their careers at Associated New American Colleges (ANAC) institutions and the department chairs, deans, and chief academic officers who hired them were surveyed to assess the preparation and motivation of doctoral students for faculty careers, the alignment of early career faculty expectations with those of their college and university employers, work/life balance issues and stressors in the early career, and the degree of alignment between early career faculty and administrator perceptions of issues important to recruitment and retention.

Results reveal a number of findings with implications for the successful recruitment and retention of early career faculty and institutional planning for the professoriate of the future:

  • Early career faculty at ANAC institutions agree with the mission of their institution, enjoy the challenges of their jobs, and feel fairly treated by their institutions.
  • Work significantly affects family and leisure patterns in the early career and contributes to stress in achieving a balance of work and family time.
  • ANAC-member early career faculty emerge from graduate school under-prepared to assume faculty teaching and other responsibilities.
  • Their sense of becoming “very effective” in their responsibilities improves markedly after a few years.
  • ANAC-member early career faculty understand the expectations of their institutions and experience fair congruence in their work patterns with what they believe their institutions expect, a perception their hiring administrators share.
  • Nearly two-thirds of hiring administrators are not satisfied with the salaries and benefits their institution offers new faculty members.
  • Administrators feel they do a good job in communicating institutional expectations at the time of hiring and that socialization and professional evaluation reinforce these expectations.
  • While highly satisfied with their faculty hires in recent years, administrators are nervous about the size and quality of the future new faculty applicant pool.

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