Mid-Career Faculty the Focus of Dr. Vicki Baker’s Latest Book

May 19, 2022

Dr. Vicki Baker, professor of economics and management, Albion College

Dr. Vicki Baker joined the Albion faculty in 2007.

By John Perney

Dr. Vicki Baker’s sixth book in five years further solidifies her standing as a nationally recognized expert in the unique issues faced by mid-career faculty in higher education.

In Managing Your Academic Career: A Guide to Re-Envision Mid-Career, published by Routledge earlier this month, the Albion College professor of economics and management ties together stories and case studies from the worlds of organizational development and human resources, as well as higher education, to inform, illuminate and inspire potential paths forward for established faculty, whether that be the road to full professor or an administrative pursuit.

“Each chapter is rooted in a problem. A faculty problem is outlined at the start, then a vignette or case study illustrates the problem,” says Baker, adding that each example problem “can be viewed from an institutional level, a department level and an individual level. Faculty development spans individual-, department- and institutional-level considerations. And this book captures that.”

Baker says the book came to be in large part through consulting work she was doing following the publication of her previous book, Charting Your Path to Full: A Guide for Women Associate Professors (Rutgers University Press, 2020).

“Department chairs need help; deans of faculty and provosts need help,” Baker says. “The tools I was teaching throughout my workshops needed to be expanded and outlined in a book. The reader can engage with the book; there is space to pull out your pen to answer questions, to reflect on tips and to use the templates offered to expand on what you’re building on your own campus.”

Baker just completed her 15th year as a member of the Albion faculty, and in recent years her publications have provided ample material in teaching her courses in management and human resources. “I have to be able to show my students what’s happening in industry, and the books have been very good for me in the classroom because they continue to give me new examples. It helps to bridge that gap between the academy and industry.”

But her books also underscore a deeper professional passion. In the higher education realm, “We do a fairly good job of getting faculty to promotion and tenure,” she says. After that, she says she has found inconsistencies across the academy. “Faculty are bright, thoughtful people; they wouldn’t be here if they weren’t. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need some help to navigate the ebbs and flows of the mid-career stage.”

Importantly, Baker adds that a significant portion of the book looks at these issues from the leadership level of a provost or dean.

“It’s almost like two books in one,” she says. “Maybe a pocket mentor for institutional leaders, who of course want to support their mid-career faculty. But it’s important to be really intentional about how we invest, to make sure they are the right faculty development supports. You want individuals to feel engaged and committed, both for themselves and in relation to the institution.”

Learn more about Dr. Baker’s latest book on the publisher’s website. Her next book, an edited volume in which she serves as co-editor, is under contract and will center on providing teaching and learning guidance to faculty who teach research methods.