Completely Disheartened


I just found out that my dear friend here, my best friend here, has been denied tenure. Ze more than had the required publications and conferences, had the student evaluations ze needed, and service out the wazoo. Ze was given no explanation, no “you’re tenure was denied due to budget cuts, etc.,” just a form letter stating that the university has decided against ze’s tenure application. Which now the school is going to need to spend money to replace hir, so we are all a bit stunned and confused.

This has me questioning my move here then. If someone who has met and in some places exceeded the tenure requirements is denied tenure, then what does that mean for the two of us who were just hired for this year? I already have 2/3 of my page requirements for tenure. By the end of the summer I’ll have almost all of the new page requirements. I still have yet to find out what my teaching evals look like though, but there seems to be positive buzz in the hallways about me. And no one has complained…yet. I won’t hold my breath.

I’m beside myself with grief over this.  I mean, I don’t want to make this about me, but I’m full of doubt now about what I’m doing here, and how I’m going to be able to make tenure. In many ways I’m much happier with my job here although I I feel like my timeline for what I need to accomplish just got moved up.

I feel like what I’m looking at here, then, is that in order for me to be able to put in a successful tenure bid, I’m going to have to not only exceed the requirements, but I’m going to have to double them. I mean, I had always planned on not doing just the minimum because I wanted a safety net, but it seems the safety net isn’t even good enough here. Granted, things can really change in the next five years here, but given the state I’m in, it could also change for the worse because our governor isn’t really a huge education supporter, at least not when it comes to forking out money for it.

Again, I know that I have made this about me–it’s just seems that ze’s tenure denial means that the rest of us are on much shakier ground than we were a week ago. While I know that my stress now is nothing compared to the stress and uncertainty of my friend’s situation now, it means that I must really map out my research goals and plans here and quit dicking around in the mornings.

It means that I have to make good on my plan to get the smaller article done–I must now do it by the end of this month. Less than 2 weeks to do that. At which point I’ll then have to figure out a research plan that allows me to use the stuff I’m need for the conference paper for the larger article that now must be completed by the end of summer. At the very least, the rough draft of the article needs to be finished by the time classes begin in September. This also means that if I am indeed going to write this book that I want to, I will need to have a proposal written by the end of Winter quarter 2013 and at least a chapter ready by the end of next Spring. Those of you who have written books, is that a reasonable timeline? I need to secure the page requirements for tenure before I start trying to work on this thing. I’ve got to at least have a solid article to send out to something well-placed. I know the possibility of rejection is high, so I need plenty of time to work on revisions and the like.

Or is this a bad plan?


4 responses »

  1. (((((Nola))))) I’m SO sorry about your friend. Seems like there would need to be more explanation given to hir! That’s horrible.

    Sounds like a good plan to me, your outlined events! You can do it!

    • Thanks Ink!

      I think for my friend, this seems to be the most disturbing thing of all. Not getting tenure is bad enough, but to have met the qualifications, or it appears that ze was led to believe that ze was on track these last six years and then to be denied with no explanation is what stings. Ze can appeal, but I don’t think ze will.

  2. A few things: 1) There should be an appeal process, and it’s likely that during that process the rationale would come out. Of course, as far as I’m aware most such processes are brutal and abusive and most people don’t do them. 2) Sure, what’s in your file matters. But, frankly, tenure decisions are personal as much as they are anything else. So yes, do your best to meet and exceed the requirements. But also, realize that the decision to tenure or not is as much about wanting a person for a colleague for the rest of your life as anything else. And the fact of the matter is that most people don’t challenge questionable decisions because they don’t have the resources to do it, or, ultimately, the will to force people who don’t want to work with them to do so.

    Finally: Don’t be too visible in your support of your friend. Look, I know that’s shitty, but the reality is that whatever went down here – and I’d be shocked if everybody’s clueless or surprised, regardless of hallway performances – you don’t want to be tarred with the same brush as your friend.

    • No, no. I totally get it. After my initial knee-jerk reaction to this and the questioning of my academic mortality, I am assuming it’s a personality conflict issue. I did have a pretty violent reaction in a private message thread of which one other prof was a part, which I’m sort of regretting now although ze will never be on my tenure committee because ze is neither in administration or even in my college, so I think I’m okay, and I figured it was the safest place to offer support given who was left out of the message. Anyway, might not have been the best idea, but I said nothing disparaging against anyone and it was clear that it was out of grief. Hopefully it won’t come back to haunt me in five years. I mean, I totally adore this person. We get along great, but I can see how ze’s personality might rub some the wrong way. I can see how mine might, too, but I guess I’ll find out about that in five years.

      Apparently though the shock of the junior faculty has come to the attention of one person pretty high up who is concerned that the issue lies in a lack of transparency, from what I understand as I have not met with said person yet (as there now seems to be concerns about the mentoring process)because someone voiced concern over the issue–if so and so met the requirements and was denied tenure, how do we know what we’re supposed to do then?–I’m the only one left who hasn’t made it into the prof’s office, but I have heard that what has been said is beneficial and has allayed a lot of fears. And this isn’t just about this particular case, but about the lack of tenure granting in the past couple of years that has a few people like “uh, if this is your requirement, and we are following this to the letter, then what are we missing and are we all fucked?”

      I’m sure those who already have tenure and have been around are not surprised or clueless. I think it’s those of us who know the requirements for tenure, see someone who has met and in a couple of areas exceeded the requirements, particularly for pubs and service (and his students like his classes from student chatter in the hallway) and not get tenure are just freaked. At least I’m not the only one, and at least it wasn’t my freaking out, but someone else’s, which got the administration’s attention.

      I’ll keep my opinions to myself around campus. I’m just really more sad than anything to see my friend go. Ze has been a good colleague to me and a good friend to me and the J. And ze is someone who really made an effort to include me in things, especially when the J wasn’t here. So it’s more like grief than outrage. And we’ll see what comes out of the meeting.

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