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Professor Pawley wanted to get out of her "existential crisis" and reach her goals as a faculty member. 

When Professor Pawley joined the Pillars of Genius™ program, she felt the need to get clear on what she called her "core values".  The program surprised her by giving her that - and much more. 

Alice Pawley
Full Professor
School of Engineering Education
Purdue University

Alice Pawley is a Professor in the School of Engineering Education and an affiliate faculty member in the Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies Program and the Division of Environmental and Ecological Engineering at Purdue University.

Prof. Pawley's goal through her work at Purdue is to help people, including the engineering education profession, develop a vision of engineering education as more inclusive, engaged, and socially just. She runs the Feminist Research in Engineering Education (FREE, formerly RIFE, group). She received a CAREER award in 2010 and a PECASE award in 2012 for her project researching the stories of undergraduate engineering women and men of color and white women. She has received ASEE-ERM’s best paper award for her CAREER research, and the Denice Denton Emerging Leader award from the Anita Borg Institute, both in 2013.  She was co-PI of Purdue’s ADVANCE program from 2008-2014, focusing on the underrepresentation of women in STEM faculty positions.  She helped found, fund, and grow the PEER Collaborative, a peer mentoring group of early career and recently tenured faculty and research staff primarily evaluated based on their engineering education research productivity.

Why did you join the Pillars of Genius™ program?

(Note to reader: Alice Pawley was an associate professor during the Pillars of Genius™ program and has since been promoted to Full Professor) "I was just finishing up my sabbatical, and on graduating all of my current batch of PhD students. I had had some painful experiences with managing my research group, and I was trying to figure out what my core values were so I could do a better job with recruiting people who would be a better match for me.  After my sabbatical, I was also moving into a new research direction, and needed to rewrite my promotion and tenure essays around who I was becoming as an associate professor."

Professionally, what are the biggest outcomes the Pillars of Genius™ program caused you to achieve?

"For me, my first biggest professional takeaway was figuring out my outcome.  This was enormously helpful - to have a short sentence that puts all my values and goals in one place for all kinds of audiences.  I use it all the time - bios, introductions when I give talks, I put it on my website, use it to introduce myself in my courses, and so on.  


But more importantly, it helped me get out of my “existential crisis” - I started to wonder why I was doing what I was doing, which felt like I was writing papers that no one was reading.  But I had things to say, things that people in my field needed to hear! And not only do I see that as a core value - say what needs to be said! - but also part of my overall mission as an academic.  

"For me, my first biggest professional takeaway was figuring out my outcome.  This was enormously helpful - to have a short sentence that puts all my values and goals in one place for all kinds of audiences.  I use it all the time - bios, introductions, on my website, to introduce myself in my courses, and so on.

- Alice Pawley, Full Professor

How have you Used Your Pillars of Genius™?

  • I have built my outcome and my pillars into new recruitment tools to help me better select graduate students

  • I have rough drafts of my new P&T career goals that I am working to draft into essays.

  • I rewrote bio paragraphs for social media and professional use so I talk about my outcome more explicitly.  I also use this in talking with students and audiences about what I do.  

  • I included my outcome in my introduction for my first-year students!

  • I have filtering questions in my planner to help me decide what to say yes to in terms of service agreements.

  • I have turned things down I might otherwise said yes to - (such as) invitations to be on advisory boards, review papers on particular topics, (requests to) give invited talks, serve on local service."

What do you think other faculty members should know about the Pillars of Genius™ program?

"This program provides dedicated time and accountability mechanism to focus on what your core values as an academic that align with you to allow you to make better decisions about what you say yes and no to.  


    helps you reach out to students, but also search for mentors who are actually going to help you in the areas that matter most to YOU, and not in the areas that people tell you you should care more about.  

    helps you build your mentoring network in areas that you may be really low on.

    helps you articulate touchstones to help you focus your limited time on things that both help advance your career but also are more professionally rewarding, that can give you energy back, not just expend it."


Are You Ready to Create Your Career As an Extension of Your Authentic, Unique Genius?

If you are a tenured or tenure-track faculty member, and you want to be able to make decisions that align with who you are at your core, book your free Breakthrough Call Here.

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