Skip to main content

A few important streets on the road to tenure

Creating a tenure file is a daunting task, which is made more overwhelming if you're not prepared. Here is a thread (shared here with permission) from the listserv of one of my faculty coaching groups, between two professors who have each had their tenure approved by their respective departments this month. (Hurray for Profs J and L!)

Prof J:

Here's my advice for those who still have a few years left before tenure. It is all obvious stuff but somehow it escaped me:

  1. Buy a large three ring binder (or possibly three binders). Buy some divider tabs. Optional: buy a bunch of sheet protector thingies that are meant to be put into a three ring binder (they are punched with three holes).
  2. Divide the notebook into three main sections: teaching, research/publication, service (using the tabs).
  3. Get a hold of the published document identifying the criteria for tenure. Hopefully they will provide more specific criteria for each of the three main criteria. Subdivide each of the three sections according to these sub-criteria.
  4. In the time you have left, make sure that whatever you do is somehow related to those sub-criteria. And make sure you have the right mix of these things as well. You'll probably need some guidance from someone who knows something about the tenure process to tell you what the right mix of things is. That person may or may not be your chair.
  5. Make sure you have documentation for everything that you do. Put the documentation in the appropriate section in the notebook.
There will always be ambiguity about whether you have met the criteria for tenure. But at least you will be in a position to say: "you said I needed to do A, see tab 1 for documentation that I did A", "You said I needed to do B, see tab 2 for documentation that I did B."

Prof L:

I ended up relying on electronic docs in the end.

I like the standing magazine stands. They sell the cardboard ones at Ikea. Just slap a label on and shove your stuff in there and then put them on the bookshelf.

Prof J:

I like the idea of storing everything electronically--you just need to have a scanner and remember to back-up your files.

In the end, the mechanism isn't nearly as important as attending to criteria for tenure and then filing your supporting documents in a system that mirrors those criteria.


Popular posts from this blog

"ABD" -- what does it really mean?

I thought I knew what the definition of ABD was. It was exactly the same as defined here in Carnegie Mellon's University Doctoral Candidate Policies for All But Dissertation (ABD):
After the completion of all formal degree requirements other than the completion of and approval of the doctoral dissertation and the public final examination, doctoral candidates shall be regarded as All But Dissertation(ABD).I have, though, occasionally run into the term ABD being used as a somewhat disparaging designation for one who fulfills the formal degree requirements of the Ph.D. but never finishes the dissertation, and then quits the program. Most recently, I saw it in What They Didn't Teach You in Graduate School: 199 Helpful Hints for Success in Your Academic Career, by Paul Gray and David E. Drew.

Number 9 of their helpful hints is one that I strongly agree with: "Remember that a Ph.D. is primarily an indication of survivorship." They go on to say, "You stuck with it …

Academic Exhaustion Syndrome: Four Recovery Strategies

The semester’s over.
If you’re anything like the academics I coach, you feel like death warmed over.  Those last stacks of grading got done on sheer will, determination and fumes. And this is before considering your writing deadlines, committee responsibilities, and other demands.  You are suffering from Academic Exhaustion Syndrome. 
Academic Exhaustion Syndrome (an advanced, more scholarly state of burn out) is a state of emotional, and physical exhaustion caused by prolonged stress, ending with grading, over the course of the semester and academic year. As the stress continues, you begin to lose interest and motivation to work, you have fantasies of standing up and screaming in the middle of a meeting, and you wonder what temporary loss of reality testing made you decide to become an academic. 
This dreaded Syndrome can: Reduce your productivity and saps your energyMake you irritable and have thoughts of strangling an undergraduateMake you feel like you have nothing more to give. Cr…

Holiday Challenge

Are you going to try to work on your dissertation or publication over the winter break?

I'd like to offer a holiday/winter break challenge to anyone who would like to take me up on it.

Post what you'd like to work on (if anything) over the holidays, and the maximum amount of time you'd like to spend on it daily. Please keep this time limit reasonable and low unless you're under huge deadine pressure -- in which case you don't need this challenge in order to get something done! Then you can go back to this post daily, weekly or just at the end of the challenge (shall we say January 15?) to say how you did, to tell us about your problems or to encourage and commiserate with others.

So, to summarize:
Post what you're working onPost your daily time commitmentPost again periodically to tell us how you're doing -- I'll receive all posts as emails and will comment and encourage you!Good luck and happy holidays!