Reappointment Process for Tenure-Line Faculty

I’ve been thinking lots about this last school year. It was a really amazing one in terms of my academic career. In the Fall I was unanimously endorsed by my colleagues for reappointment. While I hoped and suspected that my reappointment would be smooth to have it behind me was a big relief. I can only imagine the stress involved with the tenure review. I have now loaned my binders to a friend for her own review.

If you’re up for your first review here are some points of advice. I assume and hope that some of my friends will respond and add in their two cents about the review process.

  • Document all that you do. This is easier said than done. Make sure that your CV follows the department or faculty norm.
  • ┬áSpeak to a colleague or mentor familiar with the department or faculty process, so that you have an inside view.
  • Review the Faculty Agreement/Contract or similar document to make sure that you are familiar with all the guidelines.
  • Meet with the department Chair to review the process. Get as much input as you can from the Chair.
  • Make sure that someone else (mentor/friend) reviews your dossiers.
  • I had to put together a Teaching Dossier and Service Dossier. But, most will need a fulsome Research Dossier.
  • I made photocopies of thank you cards and emails from students and included them in the latter part of my Service Dossier. I also contacted some current and former students and asked for some short statements of support. They were (thankfully) willing to do so! I included these in a sub-section entitled, “Solicited letters of support.”
  • I had to include all my course syllabi and Course Experience Surveys. I was also able to include the verbal comments from courses of my choice, but if I included comments I had to include all. I opted to include comments from one 1st year, 3rd year, and 4th year seminar. I teach an array of courses and felt that I needed to demonstrate my effectiveness among all my courses. It’s easy to pick the class with the wholly positive reviews, but you might want to think about the comments that best highlight student learning. (Remember that my position is full-time, tenure-track, and teaching focused). Related to teaching–you might have more senior to you colleagues sit in your class and review your teaching. Review the guidelines, as you should have a choice of who reviews you and when. And, you should have a right of response for the review or be granted another opportunity. I was supposed to have one course reviewed twice. I requested two courses and was glad that I did so. Given that my position is teaching focused, I thought that this would best represent my teaching skills.

I’ve included screen shots of my two sets of Table of Contents. These fit the norm of the department, so verify what is the norm for your department. Overall, I would suggest that you take 2-4 weeks to put together your dossiers. And, during the review process be nice to yourself. Try to not stress about the review and stay focused (word choice) on each step that you have control over–which is little! Good luck!

Hunger Games and Academia

The Hunger Games reminds me of academic work. Sure, we don’t kill one another for entertainment. And, academic life isn’t about life or death, but the stakes are high and at times people are quite petty. The Tributes, though, are the pre-tenure faculty who have to participate in the department’s arena. Some Tributes face an easier match than others, but ultimately the senior faculty and others watch and wait to see who wins. The odds are ever in your favor to: teach, write, and pay service to the department and university. But, most departments really expect you to write, keep your head down, and know your place.

Some of the departments are more favored and might even have a better market “value” and people from those departments (districts) are more privileged and have nicer offices, labs, and equipment. Some of the departments struggle for every little thing that they get and others are swimming in what looks like opulence. The favored districts also find that their students might have more opportunity and job prospects once they graduate. These students are thought of as lucky–they are most likely to have a better idea about what they will do after they graduate.

Meanwhile the Gamekeepers are really the book and journal publishers, who keep the Tributes on their toes trying to make sure that they publish enough to earn tenure. The Tributes do a cost-benefit analysis thinking about which journals are the highly ranked ones and have the fastest review and publication turn-around in order to meet the department requirements. There also is the possibility of sponsors, if you are lucky. You get the sponsors via courting the senior faculty members in the department. They might give you connections, publishing opportunities, and vote for you when your file is under review.

Admittedly I have taken some cheeky licenses here, but I am sure that some read this blog post and agreed. If not, hopefully readers merely enjoyed the post.