Research, teaching, and service are typically considered the three pillars of an academic appointment. Service, though, is considered a time – suck—there are so many committees that faculty are asked to serve on and administrative responsibilities that seem never ending. However, as a result of my recent service commitments (Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Sociology Department and former Secretary for the UFF – FSU Faculty Union), I have grown to appreciate the many layers and necessity of academic service.
Academic service is all about connection. For me, the most meaningful components of my service work have been through my ability to make connections with my colleagues and students.
As a member of the UFF – FSU Executive Council, I am working with faculty from all over the University and this opportunity has allowed me to connect with faculty that I may never had had the opportunity to work with. It had provided cross – university connections and broadened my university networks. When I joined the union as a brand new faculty member in 2018, I was able to meet and interact with faculty and these connections have only deepened over time. Additionally, I have had the opportunity to work with faculty who share similar goals. As members of the union, we are committed to advocating for faculty rights along with improving campus conditions.
Additionally, as Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Sociology department, I get the opportunity to work closely with undergraduate students to broadly advise them on the Sociology major. I also assist them with their academic careers through providing workshop opportunities, research and mentoring suggestions, and career and graduate school advice. These connections have allowed me the opportunity to assist students on their academic journey from the classroom to applying for graduate school and professional employment and has provided ways to craft strong letters of recommendation. My service work has allowed me the opportunity to connect with our undergraduate major students outside of simply teaching them in the classroom.
I would encourage faculty to consider service as a way to connect, even a bridge between campus communities, other departments and students. My service experiences have led to deeply rewarding experiences at both the department and university level.
Dr. Teresa Roach is a Teaching Professor of Sociology at FSU. You can learn more about Dr. Roach here.