thoughts on tenure & reappointment

Tenure review and reappointment are upon us once again. Every October/November, individuals in years 2, 3 (mid-), and 6 (final) submit their portfolios to the members of the tenure committee. It is always a nerve-wracking time for pre-tenured faculty, though the tension is occasionally self-induced. Some of it is understandable. Twenty members of the committee do not always give the same weight to activities pursued by junior faculty; we are, after all, 20 individuals.

Me? I look at quality over quantity and stress balance amongst the 3 areas reviewed. If non-directed (professional) service is your strength and you chair a state or national committee or hold an elected office, I don’t need to see presentations and/or publications every single year!* Think q-u-a-l-i-t-y.

Our process includes anonymous written feedback, which has pros and cons. “Have you considered doing X?” often is seen by the pre-tenured faculty member as “You mustdo X”, when it is merely a suggested path. I repeat my mantra incessantly: listen to your supervisor and to your mentor. Discuss the feedback you receive with these individuals. True, they won’t always have an answer when the anonymous feedback is vague–unfortunately that does happen. But your supervisor is your best guide along the path to tenure.  And ultimately, that feedback provides insight into your strengths and weaknesses.

* remember, this is me. I am 1/20th of the committee. See my mantra above.


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