Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Advice to Newly Hired Redux

I certainly do not have time to peruse lots of blogs in the course of a day, never mind a week. So I am grateful to other more diligent bloggers who let the rest of us schmucks know when there is a good thread in the blogosphere. In this case I appreciate Historiann (who has already moved on to other topics) who provides links to two posts offering "advice to the newly hired." Center of Gravitas began the discussion with advice directed to R1 hires. Reassigned Time offered alternative suggestions for people at "institutions that fall in the elsewhere."

In the spirit of these posts, I add a few nuggets of advice of my own. Disclosure: I am in the fourth year of a t-t position at an "elsewhere" institution; I also serve in the union leadership.

1. If your department has bylaws that spell out requirements for promotion and tenure, become familiar with them early. Create rough plan that identifies ways that you might fulfill the requirements over a 5-6 year period and then try to achieve those goals. In my few years I have seen that the process for obtaining P/T can be a dicey one, even at a teaching institution. It would be terrible if your file was called into question because while you participated in committee work, you did not meet a standard established by the department by serving in a "leadership" capacity.

2. Listen to peers about the P/T process, but take responsibility for it yourself. Remember that institutions change. New union contracts, bylaws, presidents, deans and provosts can alter the process or the interpretation of that process. For instance, what if a new provost arrives at a teaching institution and decides that scholarship is the name of the game and that all Asst Profs looking to obtain P/T must demonstrate a commitment to it. Despite the specificity of bylaws, there typically is enough wiggle room in them to create problems in this type of situation. The rule here is to learn the system and rules--don't assume it will be the same as 5 years ago when your colleague went through it.

3. Scholarship. While there are still many teaching institutions out there, scholarship is becoming more important each year. If you are at a state college or university that downplays the importance of scholarship and encourages the faculty to focus far more on teaching, I will wager that will change within the next decade. More and more teaching institutions--especially state schools--need to demonstrate the scholarly prowess of its faculty in order to compete with R1 institutions for their share of the educational budget. The best way for them to do so is through faculty publications or other forms of scholarship (See for instance, Earnest L. Boyer. Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate (1990)). Especially if the current economic crisis continues, presidents at smaller state institutions will need to justify their budgets, not only to maintain the status quo, but to improve their college or university so it can become even more competitive, even if it does not abandon its teaching mission.


The Daft Laird said...

Thanks for the advice T/S. It's useful to remember that situations can change, even if things seem pretty clear cut.

Teacher Scholar said...

I really liked the advice on the other websites, especially Gay Prof's. Unfortunately, while I can wear comfortable shoes in the snow bound great white north, they tend not to be fashionable.