It’s easy to imagine that an academic career is simple. You get a tenure-track position in a department. You teach. You do research. You sit on some committees. You get promoted.
It is also easy to get discouraged at the conservatism of academic cultures. To see the difficulties for interdisciplinary scholars. The struggles of humanities departments to be valued.
This blog post by Alex Sévigny of McMaster University gives a slightly different story. It is one professor’s round up of the past 10 years. It shows the institutional shifts that have happened over that time as he built a program, along with some of his vision for the next 10 years.
It also shows, in the intersecting story of his colleague Terry Flynn, that it is possible to start in one place, push hard for the thing you do, not be valued, and get transferred to another institutional location that will enable you to flourish doing the thing you do. Those shifts are never simple but they happen more often than you think.
Read the whole piece: Alex Sévigny › July 1st – A Day of New Beginnings.
The cornerstone of all this is a strong scholarly program.
While I assume that both Alex and Terry are flexible, neither of them is led by what others want. They don’t think they need to change their focus to fit in with more traditional departments.
They do what they do well. The teach. They publish. They secure grants. They work with non-academic partners. They build relationships with administrators and others. They develop programs.
Being an academic is hard work. Working in large bureaucratic organizations (which all universities are) can be frustrating.
It is also rewarding work. And you can learn to navigate the bureaucracy.