Tenure/Teaching: The Pendulum Swings

Joseph Asch:

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.