Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Coaching Academics?

A longtime reader and sometime correspondent of mine recently posed some questions to share with FSP readers (if you are still out there). These questions are quite specific, although there are general questions associated with them (more on that below):

Question 1: Do you have any recommendations for professional coaches who have helped you in your job? It would be especially helpful to know of those who have had success coaching academics, and particularly women in male-dominated fields.

Question 2: Do you know any examples of universities conducting reviews of their own tenure process? Do you have any suggestions for academic experts in judgment & decision-making (or other relevant research areas) who would be good committee members for such a review?
I have no answers for these particular questions, and instead have questions about the questions. For example: 
Even if you don't have any particular recommendations, what do you think of the concept of having a professional coach to help academics? Do you think that would be useful, and if so, with what particular issues? Would this essentially be like a faculty mentor, though one possibly more likely to have actual, useful mentoring skills?

And to the second question: Most of us can likely think of universities that have problematic tenure procedures (and possibly using the term procedures is incorrect in some cases, as it implies a systematic process). Can you think (or better, name) institutions that do this evaluation well? If so, what is so good about the process at these places? Are these positive features exportable to other institutions (peer institutions or otherwise)?