Mid-career faculty comprise the largest segment of the academy yet there is scant empirical evidence for the policies and practices related to mid-career faculty. The aim of this chapter is to provide an introduction to the lives of mid-career faculty working at institutions of higher education in the United States. The National Study of Postsecondary Faculty, conducted in 2004, served as the source of the demographic information and included a sample of 1,080 public and private not-for-profit degree granting postsecondary institutions, as well as a sample of 35,000 faculty and instructional staff (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2004). An analysis of recent articles related to mid-career faculty provided a theoretical foundation from which to begin our exploration into the topic.
At a time when higher education institutions in the United States are the subject of increased media scrutiny and nearly continuous loss of funding by resource-strapped state legislatures, a greater understanding of higher education’s bulwark resource—mid-career research and teaching faculty—is more important than ever. Faculty at mid-career comprise the largest segment of academia. For some, this is a time of significant productivity and creativity, yet for others, it is a time of disillusionment and stagnation. Revealing impediments and pathways to faculty job satisfaction and productivity will strengthen higher education institutions by protecting, fostering, and maintaining this vital workforce. In this collection we will explore the lives of mid-career faculty as our authors uncover the complexities in this stage of professional life and discuss support systems for the transition into this period of faculties’ academic careers.
Mid-Career Faculty: Trends, Barriers, and Possibilities is designed for faculty leaders, administration, policymakers, and anyone concerned with the future of higher education. This text offers an examination into an often overlooked period of academic life, that of post-tenure mid-career faculty. Therefore, the aim of this text is to deepen our understanding of the lives of mid-career faculty, to identify barriers that impede job advancement and satisfaction, and to offer suggestions for changes to current policy and practice in higher education.
Contributors are: Joyce Alexander, Michael Bernard-Donals, Pradeep Bhardwaj, Kimberly Buch, Javier Cavazos, Jay R. Dee, Anne M. DeFelippo, Andrea Dulin, Jeremiah Fisk, Carrie Graham, Debbie L. Hahs-Vaughn, Florencio Eloy Hernandez, Yvette Huet, Jane McLeod, Jennifer McGarry, Maria L. Morales, Eliza Pavalko, Laura Plummer, Mandy Rispoli, Amanda J. Rockinson-Szapkiw, J. Blake Scott, Michael Terwillegar, Jenna Thomas and Claudia Vela.