I was a newly minted PhD when I arrived as an Assistant Professor at Central Connecticut. I was excited and lucky to have the opportunity to work at a job that I loved, and to engage with students who challenged and pushed me to embrace my role as an educator. Unlike my colleagues in graduate school who churned out scores of job applications, hoping to land a job in the “big leagues,” my approach to the job search was different. I only applied for jobs whose descriptions aligned closely with my scholarly interests and I was particularly interested in institutions that prioritized teaching. I sent out three job applications, was invited to two campus interviews and accepted a job at CCSU.
I have been truly happy with my job at CCSU. When I arrived on campus, I met students who were intellectually engaged and appreciated their education. In my first year, I had the opportunity to design and teach courses that drew directly from my research interests and my teaching likewise informed my scholarship. Although the teaching load is heavy, I was able to develop my research agenda.
In the few years that I have been on the faculty at CCSU, I have worked hard to be a productive scholar. I have presented my research at regional, national, and international conferences in my discipline. I published a paper in a leading journal in my field, I contributed a book chapter in an edited collection by leading scholars in my subfield, and I have several other papers in the pipeline. This past summer I extended my dissertation research, collecting new data that will allow me to complete a book project. I have developed collaborative working relationships with colleagues in institutions across the United States and have begun to form networks internationally.
Unlike those colleagues in graduate school who believed that you needed to be in the “big leagues” to gain national recognition for your work, I mention the above to show that I have been able to achieve some success, while a junior faculty member at CCSU. Most importantly, my success has been achieved solely because of the institutional support that I have received through the Connecticut State University system (CSU). The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) Faculty Development Grant, the AAUP Curriculum Development Grant and the CSU AAUP Research Grant enabled me to engage in this creative work. Without this support, most of my work would not have been possible. It is obvious therefore why I have followed the ongoing contract negotiations with the Board of Regents (BOR) with grave concern. The fact that the BOR would consider cutting this support is an attack on faculty that has serious, negative consequences for students.
I have had numerous conversations with other junior faculty, many of whom agree that the BOR proposals represent a slap in our collective faces. Faculty mobility within the CSU system, redefining professionalism and collegiality, and implementing a code of conduct will scare a number of young faculty, men and women who are excellent teachers and engaged scholars, to look elsewhere for work. The BOR has sent a disturbing, hurtful, and depressing message to junior faculty and students; the state of Connecticut and the BOR do not respect our labor, nor do they appreciate our talents and intellect. Why should we stay?
Regardless of the outcome of the contract negations or whether specific provisions are reinstated, junior faculty have been wounded by the fact that our employers would treat us with such disrespect and disregard.
I accepted the position at CCSU with an eagerness to devote my talents and energy to students that deserve my commitment, I had hoped that my new institution would treat me and other members of the faculty with respect and dignity, to receive adequate support for our teaching and scholarship, and be rewarded and appreciated for our efforts. Thanks to the BOR, CCSU now runs the real risk of losing some of its newest and best. If you value CCSU and its existing faculty members, the BOR’s proposals need to resisted by all of us.
— A concerned CCSU Junior Faculty member.