First Cohort (Colby 2021-23)
Takeaways from Interviews
The first cohort of recently promoted associate professors to receive funding from the Haynesville Project are an impressive group. They exhibit a sense of excitement and confidence about the direction of their careers and the opportunity to play an impactful role in their community. Many of them are already in key service positions running departments and programs and working on important committees.
The most important challenge they face in the next few years is to balance their teaching, research, service, and family commitments. This was a challenge before tenure, and the generous and unexpected funding has heightened the stakes for them. Several of them commented on how they want to make sure they “get this right”.
The funding has both eased the pressure to find external grants and placed them in a position to create future grant proposals that will be more compelling than before. It has freed them to think more broadly and creatively about their next projects, to retool and acquire new skills, and to shift intellectual gears.
Given the diverse disciplines (history, literary studies, German, economics, political science, art), their preliminary plans to spend the research funds range widely— from buying research materials, to transforming work spaces and work processes, to funding travel and organizing symposia.
The personal funds will be especially important in balancing personal life with career demands by helping them to travel and spend more time with family. It will be especially important as many of them face the costs of caring for young children and aging parents, and the rising cost of housing.
At this point, the impact on teaching appears to be in the creation of new courses, especially ones that are more interdisciplinary. The funds will likely help pay students to work on research projects and to purchase materials for courses.
This first cohort has had less than a year to think about the sudden and unexpected opportunities presented by funding from the Haynesville Project. They are still processing the unexpected opportunity. Cohorts Two and Three are in a very different position. The second cohort had a year to ponder how the funding might be used before they were promoted to associate professor. The next cohort will have had two years to plan for how they will use the funds.
The funds have given them a sense of security about their personal finances and research, but it has also made the challenge of carving out more research time an even more pressing issue in their efforts to maintain the balancing act in their lives.