Acting Out of Character in the Immortal Profession: Toward a Free Trait Agreement

By Brian R. Little  |  From the April-May 2010 Issue of Academic Matters

-Sometimes, the academic life demands that faculty deny their fundamental personality traits. But if collegial respect includes allowing colleagues the latitude to nurture their true characters, academics can survive and thrive amidst the challenges of academic life.

It often comes down to personality. Despite the candidate’s obvious brilliance, tenure is denied. The comment “insufferably arrogant,” uttered almost sotto voce just before the vote, helps tip the scales.  Across campus a dedicated but painfully shy associate professor is reading the term’s teaching evaluations and, once again, is simply devastated. And over at the faculty club, a newly minted Professor Emeritus bounces into the retirement party to find only three attendees at the event, trying in vain to create the illusion of a throng. Later, at the bar, the reluctant pseudo-celebrants agree on one thing — this wouldn’t have happened to any of their other colleagues. Personality matters. Continue reading