Open Forum: The Associate Professor – At Mid-Career

Michael J. Budds

Note: The College Music Society held open forums during its 2004 National Conference in San Francisco to discuss the Professional Life Initiative reports. This is a brief synopsis of the Forum on Associate Professorship held at the Conference.

Carol Padgham Albrecht (University of Idaho) distributed reprints of the report of the Task Force from the CMS Newsletter and the mission statement of the Professional Life Initiatives as well as a list of discussion topics. In the informal discussion that followed, a variety of concerns were introduced:

(1) balancing teaching and research as well as teaching and performance,

(2) the evolving and everexpanding criteria for promotion to full professor (notably restricted job definitions and the issue of the generalist vs. the specialist in terms of assigned responsibilities),

(3) salary compression and pay scales,

(4) job mobility and opportunities, and

(5) negotiating with administrators.

It was generally agreed that current institutional policies often encourage assistant professors in their efforts to obtain tenure with special funding, reduced teaching loads, and minimal service duties, but that tenured associate professors typically lack such support; at the same time, they are expected to take a greater role in departmental affairs (committee work, for example) as well as to expand their professional reputations with recognized creative achievement (performance, composition, research). Comparable encouragements for associate professors would provide some relief to these conditions. The serious but good-natured conversation came to an end with comments on the positive effects of faculty input into the tenure process, matters of fairness via faculty governance, and the benefits of unions on this important issue.