Category Archives: Tenure

September 8, 2006, 2:08 pm

Quick takes: From the P&T committee; more on test-taking; formatting in calculus; tech training

  • The Promotion and Tenure committee I am now part of has met twice so far. We meet for 90 minutes per week. What I’ve learned so far is (1) most of our meetings are spent trying to plug holes, fix mistakes, or deal with unforeseen consequences from past P&T committee actions/inactions; (2) evidently there is a great deal of time spent by the committee to create language in our promotion/tenure recommendations specifically to minimize offending the delicate sensibilities of faculty, for example making sure we don’t say someone’s a "fine teacher" when the faculty in question resents the use of the word "fine" and would prefer "excellent" instead*; (3) evidently there is also a lot of time spent soothing the offended faculty where the language doesn’t work; and (4) it seems a main purpose of having a system for tenure is to allow the college to covers its own rear-end in case somebody…

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July 4, 2006, 10:09 pm Tuesday #9 (Independence Day edition)

The day off from teaching and the holiday activity threw me off my schedule so much that I forgot it was Tuesday until a few minutes ago. So for your Independence Day perusal, this week I submit a Bill of Rights:

The Academic Bill of Rights

This is the outgrowth of David Horowitz‘s involvement with higher education, and in case you didn’t know, it’s somewhat controversial.

Academic types hate Horowitz; go to any article at and you will find at least one reference to “Horowitz and his ilk” or some such in either the article or the comments. But like most reactionaries, those who rail against the ABR have rarely, if ever, stopped and actually read the thing itself. So, here it is. Read it and ask yourself, “What makes this such an inflammatory document?”

1. All faculty shall be hired, fired, promoted and granted tenure on the basis of their…

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May 10, 2006, 8:14 pm

New responsibilities

[tags]Tenure, engineering, scholarship, academia, higher ed[/tags]

It’s been a busy last couple of days in the non-teaching-responsibility-taking front:

  1. As I suspected I would be, I was elected to the Promotion and Tenure Committee on Tuesday. This is simultaneously an honor (see the link to the previous post) and a huge addition to my workload. Colleagues have been coming up to me and saying “Congratulations… I think.” Whatever else it may be, it’s interesting for someone to go from untenured to being on the committee that evaluates people for tenure, all in the same year. I think at least I’ll have some fresh insights on the process, because frankly a lot of it just doesn’t make any sense, despite the relative clarity and simplicity of the way we do it. I’ll be blogging about my experiences, not of specific people’s tenure materials of course but rather the concept and process of …

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April 18, 2006, 3:19 pm

Don’t vote for me

Our faculty meeting today had a number of agenda items, including electing a new member to the Promotion and Tenure Committee. Guess who is one of the two finalists for this committee assignment? Guess who would definitely not be upset if he didn’t get it?

Being elected to P&T can be viewed as a vote of confidence by one’s peers that I will be a fair, thoughtful, and responsible gatekeeper for tenure-track faculty. But it is also a heck of a lot of work — one of the compensations for being on P&T is being relieved of teaching in Winter Term so that you can instead spend the entire month of January going through people’s tenure portfolios. I will do my best if voted onto the committee, but I can’t honestly say I relish the idea. In fact I don’t think anybody does. We all see P&T as important and central to the life of the college, and we’re all grateful that somebody else does it. On…

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April 5, 2006, 11:00 pm

On working and having a life

I could definitely get used to this Spring Break business; all week I’ve done nothing but spend quality time with the wife and the kid. Today we took advantage of the brilliant spring weather, going to the zoo around lunchtime; and after the kid’s nap we made banana bread and watched Wiggles videos and read books until bedtime. Quality time with family: A good thing indeed.

It was appropriate, then, that the first article I read off my RSS feeds this morning was this one, which summarized a study at Harvard that examines the attitudes of professors from Generation X (defined as having been born between 1965 and 1980, so it includes me) toward the institutional culture of higher education — tenure, workloads, how research should be conducted, and so on. Here’s one bit that I ended up thinking about all day:

Still there is the question of how much work should be required for tenure….

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February 8, 2006, 12:53 pm

A revelation:

Having gotten tenure and a promotion doesn’t help me cook Chinese food any better. Maybe that’ll happen if I ever get full-professor.

February 6, 2006, 10:34 am

And the decision is…

I got this email from my Dean after the Board of Trustees meeting this weekend:


I called Saturday but was unable to reach you or leave a message. The Board has voted to award you tenure, and the President has concurred with all recommendations to promote you to Associate Professor. Congratulations!

I’ve already outlined what tenure implies for my career. I’ll probably blog more about this in the near future, but unfortunately my newfound credentials don’t prevent me from having to grade papers or figure out why my computer is not talking to the printer.

Still, a deep sense of satisfaction and having acheived a milestone/turning point in my career. Plus, I think this is actually the first promotion I’ve ever gotten!

January 30, 2006, 10:58 am

What is tenure for?

One of the questions that I was not asked explicitly in my meeting this morning was: What effect will tenure and promotion have on the way you carry out your job? Or said differently, what are you going to do differently once you have tenure?

This is a really important question to me personally, because it has to do with what direction my profession will take after the tenure decision has been made and how I will set my goals. I think it’s important to stress two things that tenure does not signify:

  1. Tenure does not mean that I can stop suppressing my thoughts and opinions that I have so judiciously picked and chosen before the tenure decision, and now I may speak freely and honestly.
  2. Tenure does not mean that I can back off the intensity with which I work at teaching, scholarship, and service.


January 30, 2006, 9:05 am

Once more into the tenure breach

** Update: Click on “more” for some details of the meeting.

In a few minutes, I’ll be heading into my meeting with the Dean and President to talk about… well, I’m not really sure, but it’s a standard meeting for all tenure candidates, so I’m guessing it’s about tenure.

I’ll give as full a report as possible later, although the contents of private meetings aren’t exactly bloggable, so don’t expect details.


January 17, 2006, 12:09 pm

A mild update on the tenure front

After submitting my tenure portfolio back in October, the tenure process has more or less been running in the background. The P&T Committee takes January to review the portfolios of promotion and tenure candidates, and the final decision is made at the February meeting of the Board of Trustees. That leaves me basically to sit around and blog about it.

The only thing to report for now is that this morning I was asked to schedule a meeting with the president and the dean on January 30 — to discuss exactly what, I have no clear idea, but it’s a half-hour sit-down that somehow plays into the tenure decision. This meeting is requested of all candidates for tenure, so it’s not like I’m being taken to the principal’s office.

It’s funny, because we have a VERY hands-on, transparent system for tenure review — that is, it’s transparent right up until you hand in the portfolio. After that,…

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