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Reprints: Professors Found to Be Lonely in First Tenure-Track Posts


You've just landed your first tenure-track job. You're sitting in your new departmental office, trying to get some work done. How do you feel? Lonely, according to a new survey.

Carol Stringer Cawyer, an assistant professor of communication studies at the University of North Texas, conducted the survey with Gustav W. Friedrich, dean of communication and information sciences at Rutgers University. They asked 168 communication professors who had been on the job for less than two years how comfortable their institutions had made them feel on campus.

Most professors reported that their departments had rolled out the welcome mats during the interview process, but that the bonhomie tapered off once they got to work.

Departments often hire only one new professor at a time. "Unless you make the effort to find new people on campus, you're experiencing the newness of being a professor all alone," Ms. Cawyer says.

To compound the problem, most departments do a dismal job of socializing their new colleagues, the study found. Issues like tenure get short shrift in orientation programs, and social opportunities are rare. Providing more mentors and holding more mixers would be a big step in the right direction, she says. "It doesn't take much effort for a senior professor to ask a new one to lunch. It's not a lifetime commitment."


Copyright (c) 1999 by The Chronicle of Higher Education. Posted with permission on Science's Next Wave. This article may not be published, reposted, or redistributed without express permission from The Chronicle. To obtain such permission, please send a message to For subscription information, send a message to

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