Administration is a tremendous responsibility, and this is the hardest part of the job. However, someone must make the difficult decisions, and as the effects of bad administration are far-reaching it is critical to have good people in these positions. Administration is also very rewarding and one can take pride in the work. Finally, doing administrative work can help avoid any 'burn-out' associated with teaching a similar array of courses every year.
Go to a university where you know someone, perhaps the colleagues of your advisor or your "grand-advisor;" do not go back to the institution where you did your graduate work. Keep in mind that the institution you visit might be willing to pay you to teach a class or two (and also that statistics and operations research departments tend to pay more). It is often possible to go to the best mathematics departments in the country, and an invitation from an elite institution can help secure funding from your home institution.
Shifting to teaching issues, once a faculty member has tenure she or he can afford to not have stellar teaching evaluations each and every term, and this provides an opportunity to take risks with teaching. In particular, I now try to include a research component in every course. The students are responsible for conducting the research, writing it up, and talking about it. Ideas for student research projects can come from many sources, perhaps from attending a talk and hearing something that strikes you as interesting. Open-ended questions and problems often work best, and the results need not be earth-shattering. Furthermore, seemingly small results can often lead to other things. Being involved with undergraduate research can also broaden your own research interests in surprising and unforeseen ways; for example I became interested in combinatorics after directing student projects in that area.
One example of a problem which could be used as the focus of an undergraduate research project involves the Kaprekar Number. This problem is named after the Indian mathematician D.R. Kaprekar who discovered it in the mid-twentieth century. Start with any four-digit number with different digits. Then, rearrange the digits so that the largest and smallest numbers are formed. Subtract the latter from the former to obtain another four-digit number. Repeat the process and eventually (in seven or fewer steps) the Kaprekar number 6174 will be obtained as the end result. There are many other problems like this one that can considered as topics for student research projects.
Another challenge is balancing teaching, scholarship and service. I still find it difficult to accomplish significant amounts of scholarship in the school year, but concentrating research efforts in the summer has proven successful.
Being open to change can revitalize your research. My research has changed directions, in both planned and unplanned ways. After writing a dissertation in quantum logics, I made a planned move after a few years to graph theory. Reading plenty of journals and finding a somewhat obscure topic to study initially contributed to the success of the move. Working with undergraduates could also facilitate making such a shift. Unexpectedly, I became involved in the Harvard calculus project and this has been very rewarding.
Scholarship changes in the early post-tenure years, as the newness is gone and the thesis is gone. Traveling to conferences (regardless of funding), teaching topics courses outside your area of expertise, and preparing undergraduate colloquium talks can all lead to revitalization. By all means, take a full year sabbatical!
As a newly-tenured faculty member, you may find you are now asked to do many things in the service arena, by both the university and the broader community. For example, I was asked to serve on a church finance committee, and became involved with a “math superstars” program at a local school. Getting involved in these activities and positions within the university can open doors to other opportunities, and may be rewarded in your department. Use care when taking on these roles; it can be difficult to say no. Again, it is critical to find your own niche.
One problem is that we tend not to write down what we do. Write everything down! E-mailing yourself is a good way to do this, as is keeping a list of the ten best things you’ve done in a given year. Think in terms of having a shoebox full of receipts, in case you're ever audited. Also, be sure any persons writing letters for you have plenty of information; factual errors in letters are bad (RC). You're probably already doing most of what you need to; tenure can be viewed as determining whether or not there is a good "fit" instead of solely as an evaluative process (DM). Just do your job and keep a merit file. Also, write a draft for your tenure application and get feedback from outside the department as early as possible. Be honest about strengths and weaknesses (PL). Another suggestion is to read the description of the faculty ranks in the faculty handbook for guidelines.
What about administration, and what if you want to say no?
It is possible to say no. I was asked to consider several administrative positions and said no. Rotating positions are good as they provide an opportunity to try administration without committing yourself for life (PL). There is an administrative pull. I first served on a search committee, then as graduate director - these don’t necessarily seem like "administration" but they are (AG, currently chair). If you want to say no, try saying "no for now" (PL). Ask for an interim appointment to try it out. This can give you leverage, which doesn't come often in a career (RC).
Do you have any advice on changing jobs after tenure?
Don't let tenure become a ball-and-chain. Leaving your institution can be a good career move, but don't decide lightly and be sure to have a plan worked out (RC). Moving can open up opportunities (PL). Becoming tenured the second time should be easier (AG).
My university is being bought out, and I may find myself suddenly without tenure. What should I do?
Explain the situation in your cover letter when you apply for jobs (PL).
Did you experience any post-tenure guilt and/or letdown?
No. (all panelists agreed)
Do you have any advice for developing consulting work outside of operations research or statistics?
Develop your niche, though this may not be easy. Sometimes a math department will get a phone call from someone with a question to be answered, and that can lead to something (one example: a forensic science case) (RC).
Any advice for dealing with a difficult/hostile department?
Lay low for the first few years of your career, but then stand up for yourself and do not be a doormat. Continue to be nice and collegial, even to those who treat you poorly. If necessary, talk to your dean or associate dean in a non-confrontational way (PL). It might be possible to ask why in a memo. Chairs and deans are required to respond to these (AG).
Do each of you have a "plan", and does it matter? Do you set goals?
In the past it was more "sink or swim", and I wasn't aware of the options. These days, there is more discussion about these issues. A saying goes "Life is what happens when you're making other plans." For example, I never foresaw my interest in graph theory and combinatorics (I wanted to "live in a Banach space!"), or that undergraduate research would become a defining activity for me (AG). I had a research plan, but it is hard to know what will happen. One can keep a year-long to-do list, written immediately after last year's activity report; this helps maintain focus (DM). I planned to be the best teacher I could, and have a fulfilling family. After tenure, more things open up. Be visible and great opportunities will come (PL). Things happen. I think I have a plan, but other things often come along. In the last few years, things in my career have happened so quickly that I haven't had time to make a plan. It may be better to think in terms of "direction" instead of "plan." It is great to have a plan, but be flexible and set your plan in "mushy concrete" (RC).
This panel discussion was held at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in New Orleans, January 12, 2001. The co-organizers of the session were George Ashline of St. Michael's College, Jeremy Case of Taylor University, and Cynthia Woodburn of Pittsburgh State University. The scribe for the session was Kim Pearson of Valparaiso University. The panelists were Rick Cleary, Senior Lecturer and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs at Cornell University, Anant Godbole, Professor and Chair of Mathematics at East Tennessee State University, Patti Frazer Lock, Professor of Mathematics at St. Lawrence University, and Donna Molinek, Associate Professor of Mathematics at Davidson College.