Originally published in proFmagazine, January 14, 2017.
I wanted a publication that would honor and make visible the multifaceted lives we lead – our work, yes, but also our hobbies, our side hustles, our passions, our lifestyles.
proFmagazine has been a dream for a long time. Before becoming a newly minted professor in the late 1990s, I picked up my first copy of the Chronicle of Higher Education and quickly developed the habit of reading it cover to cover – something I still do today. The Chronicle was and still is the go to source for important issues relevant to professors and the academic enterprise. But as voraciously as I read the Chronicle and, later, other publications focused on academia, they have always left me wanting to know more about the people that work, teach and study at colleges and universities: their lives, their perspectives, their backgrounds, their realities. I wanted to feel a part of a kindred community, and I particularly wanted to know more about the academic and life experiences of women like me.
Having spent more than thirty years on college and university campuses – from my freshman year as a community college student to my career as a university professor and administrator – I have always drawn my inspiration from those around me. My classmates, my professors, my colleagues and my university friends have been the smartest and coolest people I know. But where were the stories about them? Where could I read the humorous, personal, interesting and idiosyncratic features that I knew existed among those in higher education? Where were the opportunities to share a common purpose or feel less alone given higher education can often be a lonely endeavor?
Essentially, I wished there was a publication that was more entertaining and amusing and fun – serious too, but not stuffy. I wanted a publication that would honor and make visible the multifaceted lives we lead – our work, yes, but also our hobbies, our side hustles, our passions, our lifestyles. But alas, nothing of the sort existed.
In 2001, just a few short years into my professional life as a university professor, I shared this desire with my family and mentioned the idea of starting a magazine called Prof that would fill these gaps. But, I was an un-tenured assistant professor and a single parent struggling to make a living, pay my student loans, and balance life and work, so clearly it wasn’t the right time. But the idea of Prof never left my mind. I returned to it often, always with the same conclusion: not the right time. Perhaps more discouraging was that I doubted I could even do such a thing. What did I know about starting a magazine? Or running a magazine? Or writing for a magazine? Absolutely nothing. So I continued to shove the idea to the back of my mind, hoping it would simply die a quiet and lonely death.
Fifteen years later I found that the idea was still stubbornly there, begging for my attention. And to my surprise, I didn’t push it away this time. For various personal and professional reasons, I decided to take the leap. I shared the idea with a few friends and colleagues and they nearly insisted that I move this project forward. But by this time, my purpose had changed.
In the summer of 2016 we were in the midst of a heated presidential election cycle, seemingly ready to elect the first female president of the United States. I was elated and inspired, and wanted to highlight women in a more concerted way, so I decided that proFmagazine would emphasize the F – the female – in higher education. Being a female in higher education is, after all, what I know: I have been a female undergraduate student, graduate student, adjunct professor, visiting professor, assistant professor, associate professor, full professor, associate dean and dean. And if that experience has taught me one thing, it’s that women deserve and need to be empowered in colleges and universities around this country. So, in collaboration with a small team of friends and colleagues, proFmagazine was born.
I am, above all, grateful that an amazingly talented group of women were willing to take this bold leap with me (they are a real dream team for sure!). Together we took an idea and spun it into a conversation with and about ALL women in higher education. We are committed to this community – faculty, staff, students and administrators at all stages of their careers, of all backgrounds, races, experiences, abilities, identities and beliefs, and from all types of higher ed institutions. We are delighted that you are willing to join us! We look forward to this ongoing conversation, and to amplifying, magnifying, promoting, encouraging, empowering and championing women, one proFile at a time.