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Author Topic: dumping service after promotion  (Read 27258 times)
lightningstrike
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« on: February 05, 2012, 1:35:22 PM »

I just got word of my promotion. It's the end of the line for me unless I want all of those "distinguished" modifiers that preface some of my senior colleagues' titles. Hours after I heard the news, I dumped one directionless  university service obligation, and I'm on the verge of dumping a thankless time-suck professional service obligation to my discipline.

One pointless burden after another is dropping, and I feel myself taking flight. This does not mean I am becoming dead weight. This only means I can focus my attention on what I think is meaningful, and I'm really excited about pursuing the projects that I had to set aside to make room for tenure/promotion activities. Some of those things that I did to get here--I'm scratching my head as to why some of the stuff I did to earn tenure and promotions is actually important to someone.

What a great feeling (for now).




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itried
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« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2012, 2:27:27 PM »

Way to go lightningstrike! Like you, I took a promotion this year and have dumped my most soul-sucking university committee work. I feel resentment from some faculty and staff on the committees I've dumped, but I just explain calmly when asked to, pull away, and try not to worry too much about what others perceive.
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mleok
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« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2012, 3:01:35 PM »

This is why academics get a bad rep. I can perhaps understand why you fail to speak your mind before tenure, but tenured associate professors should be perfectly capable of saying no to committee assignments which they're not keen about, while serving in another capacity that they feel more passionately about.
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ruralguy
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« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2012, 4:11:52 PM »

Unfortunately, at my school, they tend to leave the most soul sucking work to the most senior people (well, maybe not literally most---but full profs for sure).

Several years after tenure, I dropped a bit of my service work, since I had been chair of a busy committee. I am up for full next year, and some may not see this as quite "enough".

Anyway, though I have no intention of totally punting service, and I would actually like one term , say, on something like T&P, I don't see the need to be on ANY of the presidential ad hoc committees on pet projects that never go anywhere.
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larryc
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« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2012, 4:34:11 PM »

Next up on the CHE forums: "I am a newly hired TT faculty member. My senior colleague just got tenure and dumped all of his committee work the next day! Now my chair has assigned all that work to me, on top of a heavy course load and revising my diss for publication. Do I say something or STFU?"

There are tenured and untenured ways of approaching service. As tenured folk you can speak your mind, (sometimes) derail bad ideas before they smite us all, and attend meetings and do actual work (usually report writing) only selectively.

If the committee is really as pointless as so many are and nothing is at stake, attend only half the meetings, say nothing, volunteer for nothing, use the time when you do show up to catch up on emails, and comfort yourself with the fact that you are saving some untenured colleague from having to do sit in your seat and do way, way more than you have to do.

If there is something actually at stake, fight like hell wrapped in your +5 Tenure Cloak of Invincibility. Say things to administrators such as "Do you have any data to support that?" Refuse additional service outright. Be "that guy."
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polly_mer
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Have you worked on that project today?


« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2012, 7:26:11 PM »

Go LarryC!

That's the advice to give.  Don't dump everything on the untenured people who shouldn't say no as much as you can.
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seniorscholar
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« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2012, 8:28:19 PM »

Harking back to an earlier thread about promotion from associate to full (and what does one gain/why do people want it) -- the general rule in my department is that (1) TT people not yet tenured do "light" service, defined as one department committee and one college or university committee every year, and none of them the big burdensome committees. Becoming known to and valued by a variety of people in the (big and diverse) department and in the college or university is thought to be significant when one comes up for tenure and is voted on by a department committee, a college committee, and a university committee (2) Associate Professors do all the burdensome jobs -- chairing all but the most important department committees, doing three-year terms as director of undergraduate studies and of various programs within the department, serving on at least one and often two of the more burdensome college and university committees, often doing a term as department chair. Some of them then take the bypass into administration, but most put themselves up for promotion to Full (the topic of that earlier thread) as soon as plausible. "Deadwood" associates to lots and lots and lots of service as well as big lecture classes (and no doctoral students) forever, or until retirement as soon as they can afford it.  (3) Full profs get invited to do big important committees at college and university level, chair the department promotion & tenure committee, serve as director of graduate studies.

In other words, "giving up" service as soon as tenured would not make any friends here, especially among those of one's own cohort or among the senior folks -- but it wouldn't burden the assistants either. Giving up as soon as one is promoted to full (and living most of the time somewhere out of town, and not coming to meetings) simply cuts one out of a lot of the interesting things, but is more or less accepted. Sticking around in town and directing dissertations is more fun.
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southerntransplant
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« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2012, 8:41:31 PM »

In my place it is difficult to dump all service, even for assistant profs. Our problem is that it seems to be disproportionately distributed, skewed toward the assistant and associate profs.

I would love to shuck a couple of these service obligations, but by no means all of them.
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usukprof
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« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2012, 8:53:01 PM »

We also keep the internal service load of TT folk light:  one low overhead departmental and school committee.  This keeps the higher level reviews happy of having *some* service, and lets TT folk concentrate on the far more important external service (reviewing and hopefully being a TPC chair of something before they go up).  A department that dumps high-overhead service that senior folk don't want to do on TT folk is very dysfunctional, IMHO.
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janewales
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« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2012, 12:02:13 PM »


We're another place where service expectations go up, not down, as one moves up the ladder. We protect junior faculty from burdensome jobs, and many of the big departmental jobs (DGS, chair) can only be held by full professors. Big university commitments (tenure and promotion at the faculty and university level, associate dean positions, that sort of thing) are also restricted to full professors.
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oatmeal
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« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2012, 7:09:37 AM »


We're another place where service expectations go up, not down, as one moves up the ladder. We protect junior faculty from burdensome jobs, and many of the big departmental jobs (DGS, chair) can only be held by full professors. Big university commitments (tenure and promotion at the faculty and university level, associate dean positions, that sort of thing) are also restricted to full professors.

Same here. However, full professors quite rightly get off worthless committees that do nothing (there are many of those). They use their "political capital" at strategic points to stand up for the rights of faculty, the curriculum, and to advocate for colleagues and for programs. I think a lot of TT faculty have no idea what goes on behind the scenes and think some full professors do very little. Perhaps better communication would help.
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totoro
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« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2012, 7:50:46 AM »

My university service load just went up tremendously when I was promoted to full professor. The idea in my department is that full profs need to do most of the service... The main part is head of PhD studies so I guess it is useful.
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lizzy
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« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2012, 8:21:29 PM »

I've been recently promoted to full, and I've found that service requests from university-level committees and such have increased dramatically.

I've agreed to do work that I think is important and that I believe I can contribute to in some meaningful way.

I feel an obligation to the place, but not to meaningless busywork. 
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poresp
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« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2012, 12:07:28 AM »

Larryc, that is the best advice EVER for tenured people! We need to give the untenured the chance to blossom, not to collapse under the weight of poorly-written minutes and unnecessary task force agenda items! Overloading Assistant Profs with too much service is the best and most efficient way to lose them before they have the chance to impress us...

... and now I'll give thanks for the cloak - I just used it in a meeting two days ago...
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traductio
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« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2012, 12:40:38 AM »

Thank you, LarryC. I’m a junior faculty member in a department known across campus for eating its young. I often have to pick up the slack for my senior colleagues or, worse yet, clean up messes they make because they don’t care if the department gets screwed, and I do. For purposes of self-protection, I also often have to STFU when cleaning up those messes.

I realize that the OP is not one of my parasite senior colleagues and that it is unfair of me to project my frustrations, but my original response was not very kind. I appreciate LarryC’s more tempered and empathetic approach.
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