Twenty years

Twenty years ago this month I heard from the last of the graduate schools that accepted me into their Ph.D. programs.

And yesterday, the official campus daily news announced that the Board of Trustees personnel committee had met and voted on the cases for tenure and promotion, and for promotion to full professor.

Among those who were approved for promotion to full professor: me.

Yeah, I’m pretty pleased. But I’ve also started that whole rumination thing that often happens when you pass milestones. It probably doesn’t help that my 45th birthday is on Tuesday.

It’s taken twenty years to get from admission to graduate school to the highest rank of professor. That’s not bad within our profession — some people never get to full, and if you take the 7-year tenure cycle as a model, maybe 20 is just about right — but I wonder how it stacks up against against other jobs, especially in the professions. This article says it takes an average of 10.5 years to “make partner” in a big law firm. That’s actually pretty close to how long it took me from beginning the job at Rust Belt U in 2003 to now. But then law school is only three years long, so that means it’s 14.5 years, on average, from acceptance to partner. I don’t think there’s any equivalent to full professor or partner in medicine (unless, of course, you’re a med school prof), but I could be wrong. But what about people in other white collar jobs? My vague impression is that their careers can move faster — and none of them spend 8 years in post-grad degree programs!

In the time since I was accepted to grad school, the babies that were born that year have mostly grown up and are now college sophomores. Heck, at 25, I could have been having one of those babies (hypothetically, anyway) and be the parent of a college sophomore. I don’t know what to make of that, but it’s weird.

And now the real question is, “Uh, what now?” I mean, I’ve jumped through the last hoop, haven’t I? So for the next twenty years, what’s going to drive me? I have no idea, but maybe that’s one of the topics this blog can transition into dealing with: life after/as full professor. But maybe first — in the next post I get around to writing — I should blog about *getting* to full (after all, that’s the new tag I made and tagged with this post).

But now, I’m off to celebrate an early birthday and promotion with a friend!

8 thoughts on “Twenty years

  1. Let me add my congratulations! You and I started our jobs in the same year, I ended up delaying my promotion-to-full file for a year, so I’ve still got a year to go.

    But as for your “What will drive me now?” question, I actually have a bit of a suggestion: How about if you see this as an opportunity for *you* to do the driving? In other words, figure out what *you* want to be your priorities. More research? Teaching? Gardening? Community service? Then get in that driver’s seat and head in that direction. You’ve more than earned the privilege, I’d say.

  2. I think that celebrating your promotion is a fabulous way of marking your 45th birthday! Congratulations on both counts, and I look forward to hearing you muse about what will drive you for the next 20 years.

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