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Tenure/Teaching: The Pendulum Swings
A member of the faculty writes in:
Faculty hired 5-7 years ago were told explicitly that a couple of peer-reviewed articles and a book contract with a well-respected academic press was sufficient for tenure. I often used the word “humane” to describe the requirements for tenure, in that they rewarded both scholarship of a high caliber and teaching prowess. Dartmouth had a reputation as a place where work-life balance was valued, and the inconveniences associated with its rural location were offset by the benefits of raising children within a close-knit community.
Professors hired at that time are now coming up for tenure, having been mentored by department members whose curriculum vitae were far less impressive when they initially made associate. Some of my peers were pressured into service commitments that would have no bearing on tenure, and encouraged to take on projects (writing for anthologies and organizing conferences, for example) that would be time-consuming yet not lead to professional advancement. Recent tenure decisions have many members of my cohort scrambling for the exits—going on the market and taking on visiting appointments elsewhere—now that they understand that they were given a false impression of how different aspects of their trajectories would be evaluated.
I hate to say this, but many younger colleagues express regret at having agonized over their lesson plans and expended so much effort on honing their skills as classroom instructors, when a talent for teaching simply does not factor into tenure decisions. Phil Hanlon’s recent remarks on education only confirm what we already know, that Dartmouth is moving toward a corporate state university model wherein professors are retained for their “productivity”—quantity of publication over quality—and ability to bring in large grants, while underpaid adjuncts teach undergraduates.
The standalone graduate school announced in October cements Dartmouth’s movement in this direction, since teaching experience is mandatory for professionalization, and what are graduate students but an easily exploitable workforce?
I hope readers appreciate this carefully thought through and well expressed opinion. That Phil has tightened up tenure standards is a good thing — we have noted in the past that Jim Wright and his gang often granted tenure for political loyalty and social ties (to people who will be in Hanover for 30+ years stuck at the associate professor level) — but Phil’s search for prestige has gone too far: the word is out there now among tenure-track faculty members that Phil and Carolyn are looking only for prestige and publications, and teaching and mentoring students count for little or nothing.
Beyond that point, when the call goes out for faculty members to become involved in the new house system and in advising students, how do you expect junior faculty to respond? Phil is sending mixed signals here: get involved in the houses, but at tenure time don’t expect any credit for the time that you spend.
What’s a young professor to do?
Addendum: A professor of some wit and no little achievement writes in:
“…a couple of peer-reviewed articles and a book contract with a well-respected academic press was sufficient for tenure.” Seriously? And what do they do in the second year?
August 14, 2013
Breaking: Of Crips and Bloods and Memories of Ghetto Parties
History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce, or sometimes it just repeats itself. From the New York Times on November 30, 1998: At Dartmouth College, white students at a ”ghetto party” dressed…
June 25, 2013
Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson’s War on Students Part (2/2)
Part 1, Part 2 Today’s post again recounts the events that befell the Freshman. However, the content of the Hanover Police department report reproduced in this space yesterday is supplemented by information from my own…
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…
- The Dartmouth College Case
- 2007 Trustee Election
- Dartmouth Constitution
- Sunday Morning Sinatra
- The Indian Wars
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