As higher education allows itself to grow and change in order to fit the ever expanding needs of a globalized society, it seems unreasonable that the roles of the professoriate remain static. As I listen to my peers discuss the possibilities of a future in academia, it seems one constant concern is how they will find their own place within the existing system. My immediate reaction to them, and to myself, is that we will not. We are the bodies of change, the new breath in a stale system, the next round of trailblazers. We had the advantage of growing up and becoming educated in a technologically advanced age that has widened our understanding of the world around us and challenged us to explore our place within it. As we move forward, we need to quit trying to find a place to fit in and to be brave enough to make a space for ourselves.
Let us take all of our interests, our personalities, our motivations, our quirks, our passions, our insecurities, and our determination and create our own roles. We need to be done conforming and begin the process of reforming. To those who will question us, tell us we must pay our dues, or fear the change we embody I suggest they examine the foundations of their opinions. We have earned our degrees, learned our content, and discovered ourselves. We may not interact with our students the way you do - but our pedagogical innovations support student learning. We may present our scholarship in unique ways - but our desire is to distribute our knowledge to a broader audience. We may not dress, sound, or look like you - but our fashion sense, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, political views, languages, accents, or uniqueness are a reflection of the diverse world we occupy.
When we join you as colleagues, our goal is to bring everything we have to our students, departments, institutions, and communities. Our hearts are in education and we desire to give the best of ourselves for your service and to continuously develop new strengths to contribute to the greater good. Many of us view our careers not as pre-planned trips, but rather as a journey unfolding before us. We respect the achievements of those who traveled the well-worn road of the traditional professoriate and ask that they guide us as we each forge our own unique path.