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Duke’s Newly Tenured Faculty Poised to Launch Into Risk-Taking Stage of Their Careers

A leader in the field of advanced spacecraft propulsion, Provost Alec Gallimore knows what it takes to reach new levels of innovation and achievement. He launched a special gathering of newly tenured faculty by sharing his journey from a young sci-fi fan to a top rocket scientist and academic leader.

Challenge and opportunity are two sides of the same coin, he told the group during his keynote address, describing how “through a variety of zigs and zags and taking some risks,” he and his team “were able to achieve some extraordinary outcomes.”

Risk-taking was a major theme of this year’s Newly Tenured Faculty Celebration and Leadership Retreat in Wilmington, NC. Tenured faculty can approach research, teaching and engagement with a new sense of daring and grow in their careers like never before.

Flourishing in Your Research and Scholarship

faculty participating in writing exercise at table
Faculty participate in a self-reflection writing exercise facilitated by Maria Wisdom.

Jennifer Lodge, vice president of research and innovation, commended faculty on promotion and reminded them of the long road ahead as they continue to contribute to Duke’s mission. She and George Truskey, associate vice president for research and innovation, repeated now is the time to take risks. To reach their goals, faculty were asked to look back on their journey and assess what they need to propel themselves forward.

“I have yet to hear anybody tell me they have enough time to think. I see the stress the tenure and promotion system puts on faculty. ‘What did I sacrifice to get here,’ many people ask at midcareer. ‘How do I know if I’m having an impact?’ Instead, ask yourself what is it you want to do? You are more than your CV.” – Maria Wisdom, Director of Faculty Mentoring and Coaching Programs

Engaging With Colleagues Through University Service and Faculty Governance

faculty discussing tenure journey at their table
Faculty discuss their journey toward earning tenure.

Service looks different to different people. Sitting on a committee, speaking at an event and engaging with the community are just some of the many ways faculty can provide service to the university.

“Service is a way of understanding how Duke works and finding a way to contribute to the areas where you want Duke to do better.” – Erika Weinthal, Professor of Environmental Policy and Public Policy and former Chair of Academic Council

Exploring and Expanding Your Engagement with Students

two faculty sitting together at table
Veronica Root Martinez (Professor of Law) and Sarah Gaither (Nicholas J. and Theresa M. Leonardy Associate Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience) take a break together.

With tenure and promotion to full, faculty may want to revisit their teaching style and try new approaches. This can lead to better classroom discussions, getting to know students on a personal level and sharing observations with peers through programs such as the Duke Syllabus Bank.

“We talk a lot about teaching excellence, but what is it we want our students to learn? Instead of centering ourselves, sage on stage, consider a student-centered outlook.” – Candis Watts Smith, Interim Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education

Embodying Duke Values in the Next Phase of Your Career

two faculty talking to each other outside
Michael Cary (Associate Professor of Nursing) and Jain Pei (Arthur S. Pearse Distinguished Professor of Computer Science) talk during the reception on the Riverview Terrace.

Sherilynn Black, associate vice provost for faculty advancement, and Candis Watts Smith asked administrators in the audience to pick one of Duke’s shared values — respect, trust, inclusion, discovery and excellence — and share what it means to them.

“When you start to unpack the values, there’s so much more in there. There has been a much greater emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion in the last 10 years, which has had a big impact on our own hiring process. You start to see that one value affects another.” – George Truskey, Associate Vice President for Research & Innovation

Path to Full and Distinguished Professor

faculty member introducing herself at start of retreat
Vicki Bogan (Professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy) introduces herself to retreat participants.

Promotion to full professor is not automatic once faculty reach the associate level, as every unit has different standards, explained Abbas Benmamoun, vice provost for faculty advancement. Leadership opportunities such as the Duke Ivy+ Provost Leadership Fellows and the ACC Academic Leaders Network Fellows help put faculty on the radar.

“When you get tenure, the university is investing in you. If you do service, this is your chance to get invested in the university.” – Sheila Dillon, Anne Murnick Cogan Distinguished Professor of Art and Art History

Dinner With Faculty, Families and the John Brown Quintet

john brown quintet jazz band
The John Brown Quintet play a selection of jazz songs for faculty participants and their families. The band is led by John Brown on the bass.

The event closed out with music by the John Brown Quintet as faculty and their families celebrated this milestone together.

“Everyone has an inner artist; discovery is a part of our curiosity.” – John Brown, Vice Provost for the Arts