The Politics of Being an Assistant Professor

  • Kathryn Hume


Talking about the politics you need to understand after you get a job may seem premature. Why put that into a book on hunting for the job? My reason is as follows. When you go into an interview, your interlocutors are looking for a colleague, and all too frequently they see a nervous, immature, and ignorant graduate student. Naïveté will not endear you then or during your early years. If they see you as someone whose hand will have to be held, who will say silly things in department meetings, and generally be a pain in the ass for not understanding how an institution works, you may not come out at the top of their list. Interviewees who make the best impression are those who already seem grown up. Such students can imagine themselves as faculty; they understand life in this particular institutional structure, have accepted its demands and adapted to it, and know that they are satisfied with their life-choice. This chapter is intended to help you make this mental change. Some of the things you need to understand include networks, the protocols of department meetings, the mysterious ways in which department decisions favor some voices over others (and rarely address the true subject in dispute), the need for compromise, the timescale of institutional change, what to do during department turmoil, and how to protect yourself.


Faculty Member Assistant Professor Administrative Assistant Department Meeting Young Faculty Member 
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© Kathryn Hume 2010

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  • Kathryn Hume

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