Transitions into the “split” academic appointment


Not only are we transitioning as faculty into the new Fall term after our summers (summers that those outside of academia typically assume we spent in frivolity enjoying the “vacation” and being “so lucky” we “don’t have to work”). This blog is also enjoying a transition as I explore a new administrative/faculty position at a new institution. With this transition comes a whole new (rather wide-eyed-with-awe) respect for those who juggle the “split positions” of faculty/administrative appointments. 

Though balance has always intrigued me when it comes to work, hours, effort, and life outside of the job, I have a new fascination based on the duties of this exciting change.

There are a lot of things to consider with the split appointment. When on earth do I tackle that line of research? Why don’t I have a cloning machine?  Each day is new and different in a really positive way. 

There are a few basic lessons that I have discovered over the last few weeks to help accomplish tasks on both the faculty and administrative tasks.

  • The administrative tasks will easily seep into the faculty “time” — Consider blocking time, teaching-specific days (such as only MWF or only TR) to help stay focused on which role you are working within on which day/time block.
  • There will not be enough hours in the day — Prioritize. A lot. 
  • Be prepared to put every organizational muscle you have to work — Wrestle each day into a structure with goals, mini-goals, and back-up plans.
  • Pull people together to help enact the visions you have — Share your enthusiasm, show your excitement, and spread the word to help meet your mission.
  • Assessment and evidence — Track everything. Organization here helps! Create files, labels, and e-files where you can easily map out your efforts on both sides of your duties. Keep track of everything you do and measure those outcomes. 
  • Create bleed-over — Perhaps not the nicest sounding lesson, but ideally you can find in-roads between your research and your administrative appointment that allows you to maximize your time and write about what you are doing or implement the research outcomes that you uncovered in your every day efforts. 
  • Journal it — No surprise for long-time readers of this blog, but I believe that reflective writing and a few moments of documenting and exploring your thoughts can help you manage the day ahead.
  • Find down time — It may just be a few hours a week, but embrace some time that is just for YOU. My music helps me with this, a book on CD while you drive to work would serve the same purpose.
  • Squeeze time in for mental breaks and restful moments so you can stay energized and rock that split appointment!

As we transition to the new semester, read back over your notes from the past semesters or even your journals from your time as a student. Remember, reflect, explore. No matter how divided you feel, there is an inherent value to the split appointment that can create an amazing holistic perspective of your academic world. Embrace it!

Author of article – Lora Helvie-Mason


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