Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tenure Bid

OK, enough mommy angst. Let's talk business.

I'm up for tenure this year. We have a system of long-term contracts that is essentially tenure-with-review, just not called that. The faculty senate is lobbying for a change to tenure-with-review, but for now I will just call it tenure, even though technically it is not.

I received a notice that there will be a workshop on preparing tenure dossiers soon. They are due in October. I plan to keep you informed on the process. In this post I will just mention a non-typical aspect of my tenure bid.

Where I work, not only do we have to prepare the typical materials- teaching evaluation heavy- but we also have to write a paper on how we bring our faith into the classroom. This is a religious institution and the school wants to make sure that we are giving students what they are coming here for (our "distinctives").

I was completely freaked out by the thought of writing this paper because of the scholarly theological, pedagogical, and psychological readings I would have to do to make a scholarly treatise. Moreover, among faculty this paper is generally reviled for its hoop-jumping reputation. However I had lunch with an accidental mentor, who convinced me that his 5 page (the minimum) life story was perfectly passable in his tenure bid. He basically said, "Don't spend too much time on it." So even though I am not looking forward to this paper, I will dial it down on the anxiety list.

So that's where I'm at- in the thinkin'/ psychological preparation stage. I'm waiting for the workshop before I begin in earnest.


  1. I also work at a religious institution, and have a similar requirement when you go up for tenure (which will happen a year after you). However, since it's a pretty liberal institution, talking about "whole dimension of the human being", or some similar phrase, is enough. Is that the case in your institution, or are they more strict?

  2. I'm starting right here:
    I really, really like these ideas and wish I could go to a workshop, but alas, it would be heroic with our current lifestyle.

  3. They look very interesting, but you are right, they are a scholarly treatise. If you don't mind me asking, are you a religious person? I ask because I am not (in fact, I'm a secular Jew), so that is why I need to approach that essay from a different angle. On the other hand, I have a strong formation in the classical humanistic tradition. As an example, in high school in my native country, I had to take 5 years of Math, 5 years of French, 4 years of Latin, 5 years of History, 5 of Literature, 4 years of Physics, 4 of Chemistry and 3 of Biology. That goes along very well in my university (and I probably wouldn't have applied for a job otherwise). One thing I've realized since I started blogging is that it helps me reflect a lot on my teaching. You might want to go back to some of your posts to see if there is anything that can help you articulate that essay.

  4. Actually my impression is that it will be more along the lines of "how do I integrate my faith into the classroom?".

    Religious? Yes, I would say so. I do buy into many of the ideas of the church behind the institution.

    Thanks so much for your suggestion!

  5. Not sure if this helps, but I have almost the opposite problem. The teaching statment that I prepared to go on the market (which I have done now three different times) and for my tenure package begins with about one page of my personal philosophy. I have had folks comment that it my teaching statement is on the long side and that I should "get rid of the extra stuff" in my teaching statement. I am a spiritual person (Hindu), and I really believe that being a professor in engineering is my calling. This has influenced my approach to teaching quite a bit. I write a lot about helping students to achieve their innate potential and realize that a career in engineering is a possibility for them. I also am a female professor, and I think this puts me in a somewhat unique position (given the low number of female faculty in my field) to help mentor female students in engineering. These ideas both translate into my teaching in that I try very hard to take a personal interest in each student's success.