Conceptual metaphors, faculty member, communication, professional coach, strategies


While scholars have devoted considerable attention to identifying and developing future academic leaders, scant empirical research has considered the firsthand experiences of senior leaders who returned to the faculty. This grounded theory study developed a theoretical understanding of the process of returning to the faculty after serving as a senior campus administrator. This research examined a common academic rite of passage using the analysis of interviews with 43 former college presidents, provosts, deans, and “other senior leaders” from a variety of postsecondary institutions. Academic leaders in the study characterized the process of returning to the faculty as mostly positive and liberating, prompting the need to reconsider the use of the phrase “stepping down” in this context