Getting Started on the Tenure Track: Challenges and Strategies for Success

Lincoln R. Larson, Lauren N. Duffy, Mariela Fernandez, Jill Sturts, Joey Gray, Gwynn M. Powell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tenure-track positions at institutions of higher education are often highly coveted because they offer job stability, academic freedom, and higher pay. Despite this allure, the academic career path is fraught with challenges, particularly during the first few years of a tenure-track position where one must balance new demands and escalating expectations. We synthesized existing literature with data collected through an online survey of leisure academics and discussions derived from the “Growing Up Academic” panel sessions that took place during the 2016 Academy of Leisure Sciences Teaching Institute to examine the challenges and opportunities that individuals must navigate during the early years on the tenure track. Challenges identified included concerns about transitioning identities, divergent responsibilities, insecurities, and uncertain expectations regarding tenure and promotion. Many of these issues were more pronounced for faculty of color. However, participants also highlighted some key strategies that could be employed to address challenges: (a) Know expectations and document progress, (b) Collaborate regularly, (c) Seek professional mentors, (d) Develop an academic identity, (e) Be proactive and strategic in all areas of scholarship, and (f) Be realistic. Emerging scholars who heed this advice will be better equipped to navigate the early stages of academic life and successfully achieve tenure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-51
Number of pages16
JournalSCHOLE: A Journal of Leisure Studies and Recreation Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Higher education
  • tenure
  • scholarship
  • professor
  • professional development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science

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