Project FIRST participants get good advice on moving from associate professor to full

LEPF Chair Carolyn Pluim speaks during an April 19 panel discussion for Project FIRST participants as David Walker (left) and Todd Gilson listen.

Since February, associate professors in the College of Education have had the chance to explore the changes in expectation that come with that promotion.

Project FIRST: Faculty Integration and Refocusing for Successful Transitions, and its related informational workshops, stems from an idea developed by EdLEAD cohort members Kelly Summers and Mary Beth Henning.

Those who participated also were able to form a network of professional support among their counterparts. They interacted with full professors to learn how they effectively managed the transition, and how they prepared for success at all levels in terms of grants, research and leadership.

On April 19, the valuable wisdom came directly from three college leaders.

Associate Dean David Walker, Acting Associate Dean Todd Gilson and Carolyn Pluim, chair of the Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations, held a panel discussion on their own journeys in “climbing the mountain.”

Questions from the associate professors included: How did you know when you were ready to move up? Where do we find mentors? How do we select external reviewers who understand NIU? How do we build an international reputation? How do we achieve a work-life balance?

Responses – much like those from any teacher – typically came in the form of challenges.

Become involved in international associations. Publish a book. Find conferences where your research is relevant. Focus on one research topic. Surround yourself with people are smart and humble. Watch how senior faculty interact with students – and take notice of the committees on which they choose to serve.

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