Profs with little time can employ outside help

As faculty find themselves with less time to do their own work, like dissertations or research in addition to teaching classes, outside assistance becomes a tempting option. Academic Ladder, a national company based in Virginia that offers paid individual and group coaching for professors, is the kind of outside help some professors turn to. Gina Hiatt, a clinical psychologist and the creator of Academic Ladder , said business has been increasing because the pressure on faculty to balance everything at once is going up. âÄúFor professors, thereâÄôs a tendency for them to become overwhelmed with all the tasks they have to do,âÄù Hiatt said. âÄúItâÄôs easier to put off their own work.âÄù Hiatt personally coaches 10 or 15 professors at any given time, at a cost of $135 per session. She also employs assistant coaches who charge $125 per session. She said most professors schedule weekly meetings over the phone. In addition, Academic Ladder has an online writing club, like a message board for professors to show each other their work. Membership to the writing club is $60 for four months. Hiatt said tenure coaching at Academic Ladder focuses on prioritizing and organizing time, giving professors an outside perspective, and helping to cure âÄúwriterâÄôs block.âÄù University English professor Ramon Gonzalez , who received tenure in 2000, said any help professors can get will prove useful, but âÄúitâÄôs important to look into all the different resources that are available at the University.âÄù Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs Arlene Carney said the University recognizes the difficulties that faculty can have with balancing their classes and their own academic work. Carney said her department has been trying to address the issue because some young faculty need mentoring for writing, but might be reluctant to bother someone on their own time. The Office of Faculty and Academic Affairs has been focusing on junior faculty who want to make the next step toward full professorship, so theyâÄôve teamed up with three other departments âÄî the Office for the Vice President for Research, the Center for Writing and the Center for Teaching and Learning âÄî to create workshops for associate professors. The workshops, however, are only held a few times a year as opposed to the weekly sessions that online coaching offers. Carney said the University is working on other ideas that would be free of charge to faculty. One idea would include bringing in senior and active retired faculty to coach junior faculty âÄî for free. Hiatt said most professors who use outside coaching assistance from companies like Academic Ladder are âÄúobsessed with confidentiality.âÄù When using the online service, she said, most of her clients use pseudonyms. âÄúThey really value their anonymity,âÄù Hiatt