Promotion and Tenure Task Force report discussion

September 5th, 2008 by Bridget

Please use this area to discussion P&T issues. Simply scroll down to begin your post.

I have added Lourdes’ comments as the beginning post.

Hello everyone,

As someone that is applying for tenure this fall, I have been thinking a lot about it and I left today’s meeting thinking even more about it. After my comment at the meeting, I feel that I would like to share what I am thinking, since my brief comment during the meeting might give a wrong impression. So… here are my thoughts:

First, I would like to echo what was said at the meeting thanking the P&T task force for their thorough work and their recommendations. Participating in one of their focus groups was actually a very good experience.

I did not mean in any way to say that departments need to be policed about the specifics of their P&P criteria (although I did not express this very eloquently). In fact, I think it is very important to recognize the differences between departments, especially in the types of scholarship and the possible types of professional service. So, fairness in process and procedures (as Julie mentioned) is really what we need to be after. And I would like to trust that when our departments come up with guidelines and criteria, they are and will be reasonable for our specific fields and our university. (Although there should be some kind of protection against unreasonable expectations and some accountability for inadequate expectations … neither of which I would expect to happen in our institution.)

Too much specificity in the guidelines scares me. I really do not want to see a checklist of how many papers, how many conferences, etc. you have in your portfolio (as some institutions do). I also do not want to see specific percentages attached to the three areas: teaching, scholarship and service. Of course we all agree that excellent teaching should trump everything and is non-negotiable. But I think that different people fill different niches in a department and, while all of us are expected to do service and be scholars in our fields, some will have a much higher percentage of service while others will have a much higher percentage of scholarship in their activities/materials. And furthermore, different people, even within the same discipline, will engage in different types of scholarship. So it seems to me that it is very important to keep flexibility, even at the expense of some clarity.

Lastly, I would like to emphasize how important it is to have good departmental guidelines. Our department has had this guidelines in place since December of 2005 (when the first call for guidelines came out) and the stress about what the department expects has been taken out of the process. In addition, our chair has been meeting with tenure-track faculty (as stated in our guidelines) and we have examples of materials previously submitted by now tenured faculty. So besides the natural stress of going through the process of being evaluated (and the emotions associated with revisiting student evaluations from all courses and all semesters), in terms of procedure and expectations, this has been a very pleasant experience.

Thanks for reading this far. I felt that given our current conversation, it would be appropriate to share my thoughts as someone who is going through the process right now.

Sincerely,

Lourdes

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