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Who are the Studio Scholars? part 1: associate profs

I have a confession: I was wrong about who our typical Studio Scholar would be. When we launched Academic Writers Studio and the Studio Scholars program, we assumed that our core audience would be (1) junior faculty members working toward tenure—because, you know, that’s where the most serious pressure point is—and (2) people who struggle with confidence as writers. We didn’t think everyone would have those characteristics, just that many would.

It turns out that many people we interact with on social media have the same misapprehension that we had re: who Studio Scholars would likely be, so I want to share a few observations and set the record straight.

(Spoiler alert: if you ARE a junior faculty and/or lack confidence as a writer, you benefit even more from what we have going on here.)

Studio Scholars are mostly associate professors.

Turns out that over half of our scholars are associate professors, many making a final push toward promotion to full, and many working on a second book project. Full professors make up another significant group.

This surprise is one of my favorite things about the Studio. We love supporting midcareer and senior faculty, and particularly associate professors.

Being an associate professor, in many respects, kinda sucks. There’s research out there somewhere finding that silver medalists are less satisfied than gold medalists (obviously), but also less satisfied than bronze medalists. Being an associate professor is kind of like that. You’ve won, and you should be happy, but you’re kind of stuck there in second place, not quite there yet.

The struggles of junior faculty are widely recognized and appreciated. Junior faculty are on a countdown to the tenure decision, which—don’t get me wrong—sucks. But their situation also creates a sense of urgency not only for the untenured person, but also for colleagues, who on the one hand feel like they should provide support and on the other hand know that that only have to provide that support for a finite amount of time. Junior faculty are also protected, to at least some extent, from excessive service burdens. Who ends up performing that service that untenured faculty are protected from? Tenured faculty, and especially associate professors.

And they’re being asked to do it starting basically exactly when the support for their research runs out of steam. People around them theoretically care whether they continue to have a robust research agenda, but those people don’t have to do anything to manifest that theoretical caring, and there’s no punctuation on the timeline, and everything else is super urgent, and home life often involves raising kids, caring for aging family members, and other major life events and more chronic situations.

Fundamentally, the whole purpose of AWS is to fill gaps in support, and associate professors often experience huge gaps, while doing a lot of the heavy lifting for their institutions, their colleagues, their mentees, and their more personal network of family and friends and the people around them.

continue to part 2