Robert Boice’s Advice for New Faculty Members summarizes more than two decades of his groundbreaking research into which faculty work habits lead to academic career success. According to Boice, “quick starters” who thrive:
- Wait (mindfully)
- Begin early (before feeling ready)
- Work with moderation (in brief, regular sessions)
- Stop (before feeling ready)
- Manage emotional reactions
- Let others do some of the work, and
- Limit wasted effort.
Boice offers guidance for adopting these habits of productive professors (and warning tales of “middle-aged disillusioned colleagues” who haven’t).
But these process-focused practices are easier said than done. While finishing my dissertation, I found Boice’s advice on structuring writing work to be invaluable but not sufficient. Guides that focus more on the nuts and bolts of scholarly writing (such as Belcher and Single) are essential supplements.
Boice’s chatty and earnest writing is refreshing and easy to read. Graduate students will find this book a clear-eyed preview of the privileges and perils of an academic career.
“New faculty are smart, very smart. Too many just don’t learn early how to work and socialize with constancy and moderation. The usually tacit knowledge about how to work in academe is intelligence of a different sort, a kind of problem-solving uncommonly taught in schools. When you’re in touch with how this oversight penalizes people with great potential, you may be more compassionate towards yourself, your colleagues, and your students.”
~Boice (2000) Advice for New Faculty Members, p. 221.