50 Roles of College Professors by Paul A. Hummel

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Nov 3rd, 2013
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50Note from Meggin:  When I read this list, I just had to write to Paul and ask him if he would allow me to share these and he graciously said, “Yes.”  The reason I wanted to include them in the Top Ten Productivity Tips for Professors is because it is the vast number of hats we have to wear (and this list of 50 is just a partial list) that requires that we be productive in our many roles.

And, of course, neither Paul nor I would be trying to convey that any of us are certified, licensed, or highly trained in any of these myriad roles – unless that is actually what our academic preparation and experience has led us to!

So, read on and and see what you would add…

How Many Hats Do You Wear?

The job of a college instructor is extremely demanding.  A successful faculty member must wear many, many hats.  I decided to create my list of the top 10 roles an instructor plays.  Before long I had 30.  I challenged myself to hit 50, and in the end identified more than 60 roles.  Some of these roles relate directly to teaching; some do not.  Some of these roles are thrust on instructors through no will of their own.  Some of these roles are the compensation strategies that faculty develop to deal with challenges.

The roles I left off my list included band leader, coach, communicator, trip escort, trainer, and speaker.  Oh, I also left off magician and mind reader.  I know these are two of the most important roles, but I didn’t want those of us who lack these abilities to feel bad.

Here is my list of 50 roles in alphabetical order.

  1. Academic Counselor
  2. Actor
  3. Career Counselor
  4. Cheerleader
  5. Classroom Manager
  6. College Ambassador
  7. Committee Member
  8. Community Service Worker
  9. Computer Specialist
  10. Conciliator
  11. Crisis/Emergency Responder
  12. Critic
  13. Curator
  14. Curriculum Developer
  15. Department Chair
  16. Educational Psychology Expert
  17. Empathy Provider
  18. Grant Writer
  19. Humorist
  20. Instructional Designer
  21. Investigator
  22. Laboratory Clinician
  23. Leader
  24. Learning Assessment Expert
  25. Learning Facilitator
  26. Lecturer
  27. Mediator
  28. Mentor
  29. Motivational Speaker
  30. Performer
  31. Personal Counselor
  32. Problem Solver
  33. Program Advocate
  34. Public Relations Specialist
  35. Researcher
  36. Role Model
  37. Social Worker
  38. Story Teller
  39. Stress Management Expert
  40. Student
  41. Student Advocate
  42. Student Organization Advisor
  43. Study Skills Instructor
  44. Subject Matter Expert
  45. Teacher
  46. Team Builder
  47. Technician
  48. Tutor
  49. Visionary
  50. Writer

Adjunct Faculty Challenges

Adjuncts may not be called upon to fill as many roles as full-time faculty, but that does not mean their challenges are any less.  If you are an adjunct who holds down a full-time “day job” or one who teaches ate two or three different colleges, I know you will agree.  You have many more roles that you play in your other positions.

The adjunct challenge is to identify and perform well in the roles that are important to your student and you, the ones you must do well if your students are to succeed.

The Faculty Role Challenge

If you are one of my frequent readers, you know I like to assign homework. You are getting off easy today. I am not going to collect and grade this assignment. However, don’t be surprised if some of this shows up on the final.

  1. Add other roles to the list, ones that apply for you.
  2. Use the list to identify the roles you play well.
  3. Identify the roles where you could do better, the ones that would be helpful to you and your students if you played them really well.
  4. Set goals for yourself and make plans to improve your ability to perform those roles.

This is my advice to help you keep your teaching career ROLLING ALONG.

© Paul A. Hummel, Ed.D. Adjunct Assistance.

And as a college or university faculty member, you have many opportunities for success and failure. If you would like additional tips, tools, and techniques that you can use to support your successes, then you will want to access the The Compendium of Productivity Tips for Professors a step by step guide that will help you have a successful year and a compelling career as an academic.

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