This is part of an ongoing series of profiles of faculty members who have recently achieved tenure. These profiles are intended to provide illustrations of how some faculty reach that goal.
When Toya Like-Haislip first interviewed for a faculty position at UMKC, she discovered to her delight that UMKC instructors in Criminal Justice and Criminology could balance their work load between teaching and research. Other schools were top-notch in one discipline or the other, but UMKC offered the chance to do both.
“I started in pre-law in college, and I was advised to take as many political science classes as I could. I don’t know why, because those classes did not meet my needs at all. So I switched my major to criminal justice and criminology, and I really found my home.
“Many of my classes were taught by a professor who guided me into some research projects, finally naming me as research assistant. I loved research from the start.”
Fresh from graduate school, at UMKC she was paired with a faculty mentor. Soon she realized that her faculty fellows were kind, friendly and willing supporters who assisted her in the Promotion and Tenure process from the start.
“My mentor helped me set short-range and long-range goals, and realistic ways to get there. For example, I served on the Arts and Sciences Curriculum Committee, a way of serving the whole school while representing my department. My research got a boost from my participation in some community groups, especially a local agency involved in drug abuse prevention. And after I had been teaching a while, I developed a course on race, class and justice.
“In regards to research, I’ve dedicated much of my focus to understanding the micro- and macro-level antecedents of victimization. Interestingly, much of our field has focused broadly on the causes of crime, specifically those antecedents of offending. My goal has largely been to consider victims and the proximate causes of their experiences with crime.”
Her third-year review could have been a low point, but Like-Haislip’s colleagues and friends – Dr. Wayne Lucas (now Professor Emeritus), Ken Novak and others – told her not to worry. They convinced her that the people conducting the P & T sessions would explain how to transfer materials from hard copy – the only documents she had – to an electronic format for submission. The sessions were life-savers.
The best advice, oft-repeated by her friends in her department, was not to worry.
“My inclination was to worry. That’s my nature. But the others were such a calming influence on me. They said the process was not adversarial, and that the P & T committees genuinely wanted to promote deserving faculty. They said it would take some time, but not to let that frighten me. When they were finished, I would know.”
Like-Haislip believes her research and service have given her a deeper understanding of her field, and made her a better professor.
“Students are all too ready to believe what they see and hear in the media and on the Internet about crime, so I help them examine their misperceptions. They are no different from the rest of us. We’re always ready to accept stories at face value, without the statistics or facts to bear them out. The media knows what sells, and it isn’t always the most accurate picture. It takes work to get at the truth.”