Book Reviews

Book by Jeffrey P. Bakkan & Cynthia G. Simpson
Review by Stephanie M. Foote, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Education
Kennesaw State University

The full title of A Survival Guide for New Faculty Members implies that it is just focused on success in the promotion and tenure process, but this book offers much more. The authors present a concise, yet insightful look at the fundamental aspects of the process of searching and applying for faculty positions; exceling in the areas of teaching, scholarship, and service; and navigating promotion and tenure. The myriad information in this book gives any advisor, faculty or staff, a candid look at the professoriate, and what it takes to become a professor.

One of the strongest features of A Survival Guide for New Faculty Members is the approach the authors have taken in both the writing and organization of the content in the book. The parts and chapters of the book are organized logically, and closely follow the stages of becoming a first time faculty member. Although concise, each chapter includes relevant information, examples of documents described in the chapter, and advice from other new faculty members (in the form of tips and narratives). The chapters on teaching, research, and service that are in Part II, “The Nuts and Bolts of Success,” describe “faculty expectations” about each of these areas. This information is especially useful because these are essential components of the promotion and tenure process, and they are written in a way that is both insightful and practical. Perhaps what is most impressive about A Survival Guide for New Faculty Members as a reference is the comprehensive collection of appendices, which range from sample syllabi and grant applications to sample human subjects and promotion and tenure documents.

A Survival Guide for New Faculty is a useful resource for all advisors. The first chapter of the book, “Choosing the Right Institution” offers suggestions on searching for a position, and preparing for phone interviews and campus visits. For advisors who are not faculty members, this book provides an opportunity to learn about the expectations of faculty (e.g., faculty teaching loads, research, and promotion and tenure). Advisors may also find chapters like “Teaching” (Chapter 4), with ideas on developing a syllabus and assessing student learning using rubrics, useful if they have the opportunity to teach classes. Even strategies for effective teaching (both in-person and online classes) that includes ideas on using student feedback, and dealing with student issues can be useful in many advising settings. Faculty advisors who are new to the role of a faculty member will also find A Survival Guide for New Faculty Members to be an important reference.

The only potential weaknesses of A Survival Guide for New Faculty Members are that some information may be repeated from what was learned in the faculty or staff member’s graduate preparation program (depending on the type of program) and due to the concise yet comprehensive approach of the book, there are several places where the reader is left wanting more information on a particular topic. Because A Survival Guide for New Faculty Members is based largely on the experience of the authors, there is no list of references. Readers who are concerned about the breadth and depth of information included A Survival Guide for New Faculty Members would need to further explore topics introduced in the book by seeking out the articles and resources on their own.

Despite these few potential weaknesses, all advisors should consider adding A Survival Guide for New Faculty Members to their reference library.


A Survival guide for new faculty members: Outlining the keys to success for promotion and tenure. (2011). Book by Jeffrey P. Bakkan & Cynthia G. Simpson. Review by Stephanie M. Foote. Springfield, IL. Charles C. Thomas Publisher. 258 pp. $55.95. ISBN # 978-0-398-08629-9.

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