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The “Rescuer From Afar” Syndrome: Cautions For The New Engineering Educator, Or Things Aren’t Always As They Seem

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Launching Successful Academic Careers

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1265.1 - 15.1265.15



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Paper Authors

author page

Robert Engelken Arkansas State University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

CAUTIONS FOR THE NEW ENGINEERING EDUCATOR, OR THINGS AS THEY SEEM Introduction: 1-4 , involves organizations placing more credence in opinions of individuals from other organizations and/or new personnel than those of longer-term employees. One manifestation can occur with the hiring and management of new engineering faculty 5-9. For reasons to be discussed below, in infrequent instances, a new faculty member, particularly one hired into their first academic position and/or a small program, may be led to believe that they have been perceive senior faculty in a less than positive light, without fully understanding applicable history, culture, and constraints, or the full extent of contributions of existing faculty. Web sites now make it easy for applicants to familiarize themselves with the university stories (for example, research record or teaching innovations), and if not meeting the new possible for him/her to develop a marginal superiority complex.

If perceiving approval from the chair or dean, they may, with good motives, propose new ideas, proposals, and concerns about the status quo. They may consciously or subconsciously try to mold the program into the image of their preceding institution(s). However, they may be perceived by senior faculty as not showing respect and deference. This causes senior faculty responsible for the status quo to become defensive, and can start a sequence of ill-will and related events that do not bode well for the new -term future (for example, tenure, promotion, and merit pay recommendations from senior faculty-dominated committees).

Certainly, the rescuer from afar syndrome is not restricted to new engineering educators (NEE), nor do anywhere near all NEE exhibit this syndrome. Most do not. Some with naturally low-key personalities, or those in large or elite institutions, may even exhibit over-caution and hesitancy in expressing opinions, exhibiting initiative, and enabling change. However, the syndrome occurs frequently enough, particularly in relatively small academic units, to be worthy of discussion.

Worst Case Scenario:

Programs searching for new faculty are interested in new or additional areas of expertise, new perspectives, and fresh energy and enthusiasm. Often administrators hope that the latter will rub-off on existing faculty, some of whom may be, at least from the know, motivating and regimenting mature, tenured faculty can be like getting cats to march in formation. Head-on approaches rarely work well, and example and competition are sometimes perceived as potentially more effective.

Engelken, R. (2010, June), The “Rescuer From Afar” Syndrome: Cautions For The New Engineering Educator, Or Things Aren’t Always As They Seem Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16158

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