University Professors and the Promotion Process

Please Reconsider Academic Tenure

At some Universities and Colleges, but certainly not all, there are parallel processes for earning promotions in "rank" - Adjunct (part time instructor with no benefits), Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor and Full Professor - and for earning Tenure. Promotions in rank usually come with a salary increase, Tenure usually does not, so why would anyone bother with attempting to earn Tenure?

The benefit of Tenure is that your position with the University, after many years of service and a lengthy and rigorous evaluation process, becomes permanent. Obviously criminal behavior, unresolved addictions, destruction of university property are still cause for terminating a tenured professor. And there is "financial exigency," of course. If a department or major is eliminated from the university as a result of financial difficulties, then a tenured faculty member may be terminated.

What Tenure actually does is protect individual faculty from hasty and negative decisions that might be made by an Administrator on the basis of religion, conflicting political philosophies, race or personality differences. In those circumstances a Tenured professor would have an excellent, and probably winnable, lawsuit against the institution. So just as it is difficult to fire a Tenured Professor, it is very difficult to gain Tenure, which is as it should be.

Please do not confuse the "Tenure System" that many public K-12 teachers participate in with the process utilized on the university level. They are not remotely comparable. I cannot provide you with an inside look at the K-12 system, but I can walk you through a University Promotion and Tenure Process. I have been through the process twice myself as a candidate for promotion and tenure and I have served on over fifteen faculty promotion and tenure (P&T) review committees in the last nine years.

Academic Rank and Tenure - What are They?

At the university where I teach, someone hired with a Master of Arts (M.A.) is assigned the rank of Instructor and given a one year contract, which may or may not be renewed at the discretion of the academic Vice President. A person who already has or earns their Doctorate (Ph.D.) is hired at the rank of Assistant Professor and a one year, three year, or "tenure-track" position is offered based on the projected needs of the institution.

Faculty who seem like a good long term fit for the institution may be offered a tenure-track contract. It will still be reviewed and renewed annually, but there is a long term goal of a permanent relationship. At my university someone with a Ph.D., hired as an Assistant Professor has a five to eight year window in which to apply for promotion to Associate Professor and for Tenure. If he/she does not apply by the end of the eight year, his/her contract is not renewed and the faculty member is terminated.

To apply for P&T the candidate must prepare a Portfolio, consisting of three to five 4-inch ring binders that contain evidence of his/her Teaching, Advising, Committee Service, Community Service, Scholarly Activities, Academic Presentations, and Publications from the past five to eight years, including evaluations from your supervisors, directors, and/or deans.

It is a huge and daunting undertaking and it is understandable that some faculty do not want to go through a process, that could end in their termination. By the way, faculty are actually terminated; I was hired for my first two teaching positions to replace someone who had just been denied Tenure.

If a person does receive tenure, after another five years, they can go through the process again, another Portfolio with even stiffer requirements, to become a Full Professor. In the non-academic world, I guess a similar progression would be Salesman, Manager of Sales, Regional Manager and so on.

Most portfolios are between 1000 and 2000 pages long and contain copies of course syllabi, course assignments, exams, committee minutes, reports, academic proposals, conference papers, publications, evaluation letters, annual assessments and much more. It would be impossible to show you a Portfolio...and you certainly would not want to read one. By changing names, I can show you a promotion and tenure report from a committee which I served on.

There are five stages in the process. A candidate must obtain (1) a letter of support from his/her School Dean, (2) a positive five-member School (Arts and Humanities, Math & Sciences, Education) Committee Report, (3) a positive seven-member University-wide Committee Report, (4) a letter of support from the Academic Vice-President, and (5) a positive letter from the university president after he has reviewed the portfolio binders, letters, and reports.

Once the portfolio binders are turned in, 4-6 months elapse before the candidate knows the outcome. Below is an actual School P&T Report. It will summarize some of the materials contained in a portfolio, and hopefully illustrate what Tenure is based upon and clarify the difficulty of achieving Tenure. I am not aware of any institution that simply awards Tenure on the basis of longevity. When the process works as it is supposed to, Tenure is awarded after many years of dedicated and superior teaching, service, and scholarship.

In the interests of full disclosure, I was hired as an instructor 14 years ago. Three years later I completed my Ph.D. and became an Assistant Professor. Six years later I went through the P&T process and was promoted to Associate Professor and received Tenure. Five years later, another portfolio, and I was promoted to Full Professor. I have served on numerous School-wide P&T review committees and sit on the University-wide P&T review committee, so I write from inside and outside the process, from the bottom to the top.

Below, with names changed (my apologies, "fruit" names were all I could think of late at night), is a complete report on a candidate who successfully applied for promotion and tenure. Seven tenured faculty served on this committee and I was selected to collate all the comments and observations and compose the final report. If you have any questions, I will do my best to answer them and I would certainly appreciate any comments you might have to offer.

Thr Promotion and Tenure Report

Jefferson University Promotion and Tenure Committee:

Report on Application for Promotion to Associate Professor

The University Promotion and Tenure Committee (Professor Apple, Professor Orange, Professor Peach, Professor Cranberry, Professor Pear, Professor Pineapple, Professor Mango), in considering the application of Dr. Cherry Grape, Assistant Professor of Education, for tenure and promotion to associate professor, submitted the following report on November 19, 2010.

Summary Report

The members of the Reinhardt University Promotion and Tenure Committee endorse the application of Dr. Cherry Grape for tenure and promotion to Associate Professor.

Dr. Grape has shown strength in teaching and advising by her regular self-assessment and course revision, her development of educational websites, and her attention to differentiated learning styles. She has been regularly active with professional presentations for the past decade, beginning even before she completed her doctorate in 2003. In addition, Dr. Grape combines teaching and community service in an ongoing service-learning project, Feed My Lambs.

Dr. Grape’s constant self-reevaluation, attention to theoretical issues, and use of technology make her a strong candidate for tenure. In all of her pursuits, including teaching, service, and professional development, Dr. Grape holds herself to the highest standards of excellence. She is an extremely hard worker whose efforts are deeply appreciated by students, colleagues and the community.

Committee Findings

1. Academic Credentials

Cherry Grape has met the standard for academic credentials, having received her Ph.D. degree from Hiawassee State University in 2003.

2. Teaching and Advising

The Committee evaluated Dr. Grape’s Promotion and Tenure Portfolio with respect to the Jefferson University requirements for promotion in rank to Associate Professor. Section V, 4.2.1.2 “Demonstrated effectiveness in teaching, with evidence from SIRS and at least four (4) other sources listed in Appendix E, Evidentiary Sources (Teaching and Advising) and the requirements for Tenure Eligibility, Section V, 5.2 “Teaching and advising skills and experiences that meet the standards for an associate professor at Jefferson University.” (See Section V, 2.1.8.3).

Based upon statements by students who have been in her classes, peer and Dean classroom observation reports, student evaluations, and instructional materials, the University Committee concludes that Dr. Grape is one of the most dedicated and effective teachers and mentors at the University. Her outstanding use of technology as well as her incorporation of differentiated instructional techniques is unparalleled on this campus. Dr. Grape not only teaches “teaching,” but she takes her own practice of teaching seriously. She places her teaching within a conceptual framework in addition to dealing with the nitty-gritty of teaching.

The committee found that the candidate:

1. Incorporates appropriate instructional technology in the classroom

Dr. Grape maintains excellent websites for all courses offered, including “Reading Railways. She creates videos for teaching reading comprehension, and teaches her students to create them as well. See videos below (Removed for Confidentiality)

2. Utilizes several teaching techniques to address multiple intelligences

Dr. Grape includes music, movement, and chanting, in addition to reading and lecturing in her pedagogy. Her teaching philosophy is student-centered and well developed, balancing theory and practice. Her EDU 230 course is all about differentiated learning.

3. Has received letters and notes from students and alumni addressing the candidate’s teaching and advising abilities

Students refer to her passion and dedication for teaching, and her positive effect on them. (See examples below.)

4. Maintains currency in discipline content and instructional delivery.

Dr. Grape added a mid-semester evaluation to help her improve classroom instruction, only part of her excellent and thorough assessment system for use in her courses. Her course syllabi show progression and improvement. Her assignment in EDU 230, in which students do a semester-long inquiry into a particular theorist and connect what they learn to their own teaching, was appreciated.

5. Has worked in close partnership with Hasty Elementary School in order to facilitate student placement.

Excerpts from letters in support of Dr. Grape:

“Dr. Grape was energetic, enthusiastic, and did an excellent job of connecting to the class. [She] used relevant examples, held the class’s attention, treated students with respect, and asked stimulating questions to challenge each student” – Dr. K H, fall 2010

“Modeled a nurturing environment; variety of ways to present information; modeling flexibility; spirited [student] interactions that were supported and encouraged by the instructor. You reflect the nurturing commitment of PSOE extremely well!” – Dr. S B 2006.

“Student advisement is progressing well as your knowledge of the program and associated college and PSOE policy becomes more familiar… You bring a lot of enthusiasm, teaching skill, and creative energy to the PSOE” – Dr. B D 2003

“She’s hands down one of my favorite people. She’s so energetic and so full of life. You want to be around her and you want to learn from her. She’s been a huge mentor to me. [Her class is] very hands on. You dance, you sing. You go all sorts of crazy things to help you remember different things. You’re moving. Its not just sitting there and taking notes and writing papers.” – M C (student).

“To me she is the definition of a master teacher. You can tell that she takes her job as a calling and not just a paycheck. Her hard work in preparing her lesions for her classes really shines when she teaches them to the class… She is deeply compassionate about shaping and molding her students into wonderful teachers. She is not a push over though. Dr. Grape believes in accountability. She feels that if she is putting a lot of work into her lessons then we as her students should put the same amount of work into our course assignments… [But] she would always make time for me and other students. – M D 2006.

3. Service to University and Community

We evaluated Dr. Grape’s Promotion and Tenure Portfolio with respect to the Jefferson University requirements for promotion in rank to Associate Professor. Section V, 4.2.1.2 “Significant contributions in service with evidence from at least four (4) sources listed in Appendix E, Evidentiary Sources (Service to University and Community) and the requirements for Tenure Eligibility, Section V, 5.2, “University and community service activities that meet the standards for an associate professor at Jefferson University.” (See Section V, 2.1.8.3) The committee found that the candidate:

1. Developed successful service programs or projects for a local, regional, national, or international College, Church, or Community organization

Dr. Grape’s ongoing work with Feed My Lambs, a childcare center, was very impressive, even more so because the activity is incorporated into her own pedagogy. This ongoing project involves the Dr. Grape and her students with service learning.

2. Served as a leader of the Faculty Development Committee

Dr. Grape took this “invisible” committee and made it visible through her enthusiastic publicity efforts. In addition, this committee was charged with developing guidelines for the Vulcan Award nominations. Dr. Grape and the committee researched various other colleges and developed a proposal that was successfully passed by the Faculty Senate.

3. Served as leader of the Learning Environment and Campus Life Committee

Dr. Grape’s efforts here were also appreciated. Her creation of videos on student time and life management have been broadcast on JUTV.

4. Leads and/or participates in PSOE committees

Dr. Grape has served faithfully on the many committees of the Patterson School of Education (PSOE). Unlike other Schools at Jefferson University, the PSOE has a number of School committees, with an additional service load for its faculty. Moreover, it has regular accreditation visits for existing and new programs. All of these projects require time and energy. In addition to campus-wide efforts, Dr. Grape serves on the following PSOE committees:

• Dispositions Protocol
• PSOE Alumni Association Board
• Recruitment and Retention
• Technology/Live Text
• Banner
• Instructional Resource Center
• (Like all PSOE faculty) played role in GAPSC accreditation visit

5. Currently serves as the PSOE representative on the Faculty Executive Council.

In addition to her regular Faculty Executive Council duties and responsibilities, Dr. Grape invested substantial time, summer and fall of the 2010 academic year, meeting with the recently developed University Collaborative Group. This group composed of administrators, faculty representatives, and staff addresses initiatives which require collaboration between the various areas of the university. Dr. Grape also headed up a sub-committee that developed a report for the larger body.

6. Dr. Grape has served on numerous time-consuming faculty, staff, and administrative search committees.

7. Dr. Grape regularly participated in Scholarship Days and Freshmen Orientation service days.

Excerpts from letters in support of Dr. Cherry Grape:

“Dear Cherry… on behalf of the English Department, I want to thank you so much for participating in our search for two new English faculty members… You participated in dozens of meetings and interviews… This was a huge search. We read through ninety applications, did thirteen phone interviews, and conducted six on-campus interviews…. Your insights were invaluable. You were both extremely professional and a congenial and generous colleague…. As a faculty member from another discipline, you went above and beyond the call of duty in helping us with this search.” – Dr. D C 2007.

“On behalf of the Cherokee County School District, I would like to personally thank you for your participation in the 2004 Middle School Career Fair! … This event… proved to be a success due in large part to the generous contribution of your time to our middle school students – Dr. F P, 2004.

“Your initial work in this area also carries a great deal of potential for the future. You have established beginning collaborative reading projects with the area teachers at Mountain Road elementary and R.M. Moore” – Dr. B D 2003.

“Your work as secretary of the College Curriculum Committee has been done in a timely and efficient manner. The same holds true for your chairing the PSOE Cultural and Environmental Standing Committee as the product of your work as seen throughout the PSOE and does much to add to the caring commitments of our faculty.” Dr. B D 2003.

“Thank you for your contribution to advising students at the June 2007 New Student Orientation. Since faculty members are not under contract during the summer months, voluntary attendance at these sessions is greatly appreciated.” – Dr. T R .

4. Professional Growth and Development (Scholarship, Publications, Presentations)

We evaluated Dr. Grape’s Promotion and Tenure Portfolio with respect to the Jefferson University requirements for promotion in rank to Associate Professor. Section V, 4.2.1.2 “Significant contributions to the candidate’s discipline and demonstrated professional effectiveness, with evidence from at least four (4) sources listed in Appendix E, Evidentiary Sources (Professional Growth and Development) and the requirements for Tenure Eligibility, Section V, 5.2 “Professional growth and development achievements that meet the standards for an associate professor at Jefferson University.” (See Section V, 2.1.8.3).

Dr. Grape’s engagement with emerging theories about literacy and the teaching of reading is obvious in her course materials, her conference presentations, and the manuscripts she has prepared for her grant application to the Institute of Education Science in 2009 and for submission to the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy. Dr. Grape’s extensive work for the grant proposal to the Institute of Education Science, even though it failed to receive funding at that time, can, as Dr. Grape indicates in her portfolio, be used for future grant applications. Dr. Grape is one of the few faculty members at Jefferson who have even attempted to write a grant proposal, and she should be commended for her efforts.

Dr. Grape has integrated her research into her classroom teaching to an impressive extent. Her research feeds her classroom practice, and her classroom practice feeds her research. This integrated cycle of research and pedagogy embodies the ideal of the Research of Teaching and Learning as Dr. Charles Glassick has described it.

The committee found that the candidate:

1. Presented a conference paper at the annual meeting of the Georgia Association of Teacher Educators in 2010: “Reading about Teaching Reading: Helping Pre-service Teachers Develop Critical Thinking and Reading Skills”

2. Presented at the Southeast IRA regional conference in 2009: “Understanding it My Way: Using Multiple Intelligences to Teach Comprehension Strategies”

3. Chaired a session in 2007 at the National Reading Conference.

4. Presented with S. Brown and B. Black at the Georgia Association of Teacher Educators in 2006: “Showing Students How to Dance (Modeling Differentiation)

5. Presented a paper in 2000: “We Matter! Adolescent Readers Favorite Kinds of Books” at the National Council of Teachers of English

5. Commitment to the Mission, Values, Identity of Reinhardt University

Jefferson University's Mission Statement affirms numerous convictions about students and the faculty member's relationship with those students, including the following: “the University affirms that learning is best facilitated through a partnership between faculty members and students where the integration of faith and learning is essential”; the University provides a “small, caring community dedicated to personalized attention”; and the University “seeks to educate the whole person by developing the intellectual, social, personal, vocational, spiritual/moral and physical dimensions of its students.” Although not restricted to these statements, the committee has used these convictions to assess Dr. Grape.

From Dr. Grape’s portfolio:

“[In my first year] I sat in the dining hall and got the feeling that Jefferson might just be the place I say goodbye to when I retire. This place called me. I came here not for a job, but to find another part of my life. When I looked around at my new surroundings, I was invested in making my mark and helping to create an environment that would be welcoming and nurturing. I wanted to help our college grow and become a newer and better version of itself.”

The committee certainly agrees that this statement indicates support of Jefferson University’s mission. It is matched by Dr. Grape’s tireless and caring work with students, with Feed My Lambs, and with her committee work with the Faculty Development Committee, the Learning Environment Committee, and the PSOE. This committee finds that Dr. Grape is dedicated to Jefferson University and supports and furthers its mission on many different levels, from her intensive work with individual students to her work on a wide variety of committees which support both the Patterson School of Education and the larger university community.

6. Suggestions for Future Development

The committee was pleased to see that Dr. Grape had submitted an article for publication and hopes that it is accepted. For future promotion, the committee encourages Dr. Grape to continue pursuing opportunities for research, presentation, and publication to strengthen this part of her portfolio.

It would be helpful for a future promotion report if the candidate would specifically designate the evidence from SIRS reports that she would like the committee to consider.

University Committee Recommendation

The University Promotion and Tenure Committee recommends that Dr. Cherry Grape be granted Tenure and promotion to Associate Professor based on our analysis of the candidate’s portfolio and accomplishments relative to Teaching and Advising; Service to University and Community; and Professional Growth and Development.

Signed and dated:

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Comments are always welcome and appreciated. 24 comments

suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM

Absolutely excellent article. You really show step by step how tenure is given at your college/university. It is a lengthly and difficult process for the applicant to go through. Your college/university does a thorough search for the best professor to teach a particular class or classes. It is not a fly-by-night process that gives tenure to anyone knocking on the door. Tenure must be earned and worked for by various methods of publishing their work and opinions. This is a very enlightening piece of writing and should ease the fears the private sector has against tenure providing lifetime jobs that professors never have to again work at. They must continue to work and publish in their area of knowledge, after tenure is given or they can be fired. Tenure insures that unpopular opinions and avant garde teaching methods cannot be shut down by administrators who do no like them or are unenlightened.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you Suzette. I couldn't have summarized the thrust of the Hub myself, any better than you just did. :) Tenure really isn't a gimme or a pass. It is extremely hard to earn and does take a long time. And your final sentence hits the nail on the head precisely.

"Tenure insures that unpopular opinions and avant garde teaching methods cannot be shut down by administrators who do not like them or are unenlightened." Thanks so much for your thoughtful and detailed analysis of the Hub.


Sueswan 4 years ago

Hi Theresa,

I have heard of tenure but I didn't have a clue what it meant.

I respect and admire you and others like Dr. Cherry Grape who have gone through the tenure process. To me, it shows your passion and dedication to teaching.

Voted up and up and away. I chose funny too because of the fruit names. :)

Take Care


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Sue - I kind of thought a lot of people might not really know what it means or how one attains it. You do really have to be dedicated and hang in there in order to get tenure.

Glad you found the names funny. I was working on changing identifying names and places and I simply drew a blank...I just sat staring at the screen and suddenly, I thought, why not fruit names (having just done a Hub on fruit, it was pretty easy). That made it easy. :) Thanks for your comments, I really do appreciate them.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Great information on a topic people assume they understand but probably don't. Great pictures too!


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you. That is what I thought, too. I certainly didn't know anything about "tenure" until after I started teaching, although I had heard the word all my life. The pictures did turn out well, didn't they?


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

phdast you just simply shine with intelligence I love to bask in your hubs perhaps some will rub off on me huh? LOL great hub


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Frank - You know how to make me feel good about what I write, especially when I am not altogether sure it will be meaningful or clear to anyone else. Thank you for you're always encouraging words. :) And although it is a lovely compliment and image, I am quite sure you are already brimming with creativity and intelligence yourself. Have a great week. :)


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

I had no idea how complex this process was -- more so than in a regular business. Voting this Up and Interesting.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thanks for the votes and the comments. :) It is a complicated and lengthy process. We wish it were much shorter, but it is what it is. :)


gjfalcone profile image

gjfalcone 4 years ago from Gilbert, Arizona

Thank you for the education Professor. I had no idea the procedure was so complex. It reminded me of the Military performance reports only on a much greater scale.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Appreciate the read and the comments. It is a lengthy and complex procedure, but I have to admit, I am glad the process is so very difficult, otherwise, "tenure" would be meaningless.


Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 4 years ago from Somewhere in Asia

A very interesting insight into universities. I am keen to find a university position this year, so this was actually quite enlightening.

Thanks for SHARING.


Debby Bruck profile image

Debby Bruck 4 years ago

Well done and congratulations on your hard earned achievement. This process can be daunting and anxiety ridden. In addition, with the budget cuts today, anyone can lose their job, even tenured professors quite easily. No jobs are secure these days. Blessings, Debby


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you Brett. Will you be staying overseas or moving elsewhere? I would imagine every country has somewhat different requirements and processes. I forgot to mention (because it doesn't figure in the promotion process) that many universities and colleges hire quite a few "instructors" - sometimes for one year, sometimes for much longer. These positions are not usually tenure track, but often a Master's degree and some experience are sufficient. Good luck. I hope you land the position you want. :)


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

thank you Debbie. And I think you're right because of budget cuts there really are no safe jobs these days. But that being said I'm still glad it went through the process, and I'm glad that my university is one of the ones that still insists on a rigorous process. Some institutions have gotten rid of tenure entirely and others have any easy simplified process that doesn't really amount to very much, which I think is unfortunate. Thanks so much for the comments. Theresa


Xenonlit profile image

Xenonlit 4 years ago

This should be required reading for every college student! The students would realize the arduous journey that their professors have taken and the candidates would know the realities of the process. Well done, up and awesome!


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Xenonlit - What a wonderful compliment. I wish it was required reading for students and candidates. Maybe it would make a difference. Thank you so much. :)


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago

Thank you for this very interesting Hub. I have read in several books that professors who are not white heterosexual males get tenure without meeting the usual standards. I am speaking of women's studies, African-Americans, Hispanics, those who claim some speck of Native American ancestry, and people who habitually practice homosexual behaviors.

The books that come to mind are "The Shadow University," "Tenured Radicals," and "101 Professors" by David Horowitz.

Do you find this to be true at your college?


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hello James - Thank you for your kind comments. I don't think there is a single answer to your question. Just as we discussed before in another hub, practices, rules, guidelines, and what is acceptable and what is not, really do vary from institution to institution. What might be acceptable at a small private college, might be unacceptable within a state university system. Further, a lot of the strange, over-the-top, sometimes inappropriate decisions seem to be made at the larger flashier universities that receive lots of media attention.

I know that the examples you are referring to do occasionally happen; I think they tend to happen in two locations, one, very large universities that are trying very hard to be ultra liberal, and two, institutions where there is no strong faculty governance or tenure process to balance the power of the administration.

The problem is not always the tenure process, sometimes the problem is an overbearing, authoritarian administrator who does exactly what he pleases because the faculty does not have a strong tenure process, and therefore they are a very weak faculty... and cannot resist any stupid or improper decision that he might make.

Some years ago when Reinhardt was a college not a university we had a president who trampled on all the rules, ignored all the processes, never consulted the faculty (even about faculty issues and concerns) and decided one day on a whim to completely abolish an entire department within the college, psychology. This department had two full-time and two part-time faculty whom he dismissed with no warning and for no just cause, and the program had 35 majors enrolled which is really good for a small college.

The tenured faculty organized, Educated themselves, involve the rest of the faculty, contacted the trustees,Passed a vote of faculty no-confidence, and although it took a year eventually the crazy man was removed from office. In this case if we had not had strong tenured faculty, there would have been nothing we could have done. Just an example.

But you actually ask about my institution. Fortunately, although we are a private university, we have a well written the faculty handbook (which is like our contract with the university) and a pretty strong tenured faculty. We oversee the process very carefully, and those kinds of things do not happen here.

What does happen here is that occasionally the administration will create a new non-faculty position, hire someone outside of the faculty process, and then permit them to teach anyway. This is wrong, inappropriate, and right now we don't have anybody strong enough in faculty leadership to hold the administration accountable. But it could be much worse and Reinhard is still a very good place to work. Hope that answers your question. Sorry to have gone so long. Take care. Theresa


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

This is an awesome accounting of the university promotion and tenure process. I never realized that the process was so detailed. When I went to college, I thought it was simply "publish or perish" to gain tenure. Is this process for getting promotion and tenure the same in other countries like England, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand? Voted up and sharing!


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Paul - You are now my favorite hubber (for using the word awesome). :) It is definitely a lengthy, detailed, strenuous process. Unfortunately, I don't know anything at all about P&T processes in other countries. It may actually be quite different.

But I should qualify that the P&T process at a small private university may not represent the average faculty experience. Large state and private universities do have a "publish or perish" processes and policies. At those institutions, 75% of tenure is based on publications and 25% on teaching and service.

This is also where students take classes in lecture halls with 100 to 400 seats. Tenure track faculty may teach one or two of these classes (student assistants grade the exams) and devote the rest of their time to research and publication. I would not want to go to college there and I would not send my children, but obviously, lots of people do.

The other extreme is the medium to small sized state universities and colleges, many of whom have been slowly eliminating tenure over the past thirty to forty years. There are two major reasons are often given for this shift in emphasis, there may be others as well.

(1) There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding and resentment in the United States about what academics actually do, how much what we do is worth, and how much we are paid. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard someone say. Well, those who "can" do and those who "can't" teach. Or the number of times I have heard some ill-informed person pontificate publicly. Well, they teach five classes a semester, so they are in the classroom a whole 15 hours a week, and we pay them WHAT?

Yes, I stand in front of my students 15 hours a week and I meet with them 10 hours a week in my office, and I spend about five hours a week in academic meetings and writing various reports. And we can all add, so I get a fabulous salary for only working 30 hours a week. (It is best to be amused by, rather than irritated by the simple-minded.)

Whether in or out of the office, faculty must also spend time devising the guidelines for and then grading exams, reports, essays, research papers, group projects, daily quizzes, etc. Faculty read books, take detailed notes, prepare lectures for their classes; they design brand new courses occasionally and shepherd them through a lengthy academic approval process; most faculty serve as mentor to one or more student organizations; we locate and bring speakers to campus; we work on our own research projects and present papers at local, state, and national conferences, and a recent independent study found that faculty on average spend work between 45 and 50 hours a week, obviously some only put in 40 hours and some (often tenure track) put in 55.

To return to reason (1), academics are well- respected in Europe, to a large extent they are disrespected in America. Some scholars believe this can be traced back to our early colonial history. America the land of hard-working business entrepreneurs breaking away from Aristocratically-ruled England...and who went to university in England, in Europe, the upper class, of course. There is quite a bit of anti-intellectual rhetoric in American politics and business. Richard Hofstadter, "Anti-Intellectualism in America" is an older book, but Hofstadter is a well-respected historian and addresses this issue.

(2) Money, everything comes back to money doesn't it? As state budgets have been squeezed and as funds coming from Washington have diminished, colleges and universities have not surprisingly been looking for ways to cut costs. Of course as is true of most businesses, a major portion of any college or university budget is employee salaries and benefits. But you have to have professors and teachers in the classroom? True, but class sizes can be increased and many times they are, meaning a need for fewer faculty, in which case not being able to fire tenured faculty poses a difficulty. [Reason 1 why academic administrators and Boards of Trustees may work to minimize or eliminate tenure.]

If administrators do not choose to increase class size (substantial academic research has demonstrated that large classes to not benefit students and often decrease learning and retention), they can change how they staff classes. Classes can be staffed with full-time (FT) faculty who receive both wages and benefits or with adjunct (PT) faculty who teach part-time, often at two or more locations, who only receive wages.

In the southeastern United States, adjunct faculty are generally paid 1500 to 2500 dollars per course. So, adjuncts teaching five classes per semester will make between 15 and 25 thousand a year. No benefits, no medical, no retirement, no contract – they are hired on a semester by semester basis - and they all have a Masters degree in their discipline and many of them have earned a PhD as well. [Reason 2 why academic administrators and Boards of Trustees may work to minimize or eliminate tenure.]

Paul, I know you were not expecting an essay, but obviously this affects me and all the faculty I work with. Now that I have written all this, I think I will turn it into a hub. I would like to use your question, but I will simply say "a hubber asked” unless you let me know that it is alright to use your name there. If you are still reading, thank you for hanging in there. Have a great day. :) Theresa


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Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

Theresa,

Anytime you want to use my name in any of your hubs it is fine with me. I really appreciate your detailed explanation about tenure. When I had my undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin in the 1960s, most of my courses during the freshman and sophomore years were in the form of large lecture classes taught by a professor with graduate teaching assistants handling the discussion sections and labs. Very seldom was I able to get any face-to-face meetings with the professor. When I took graduate level courses in Chinese language, literature, and history during the 1970s my classes were very small and I had a lot of private meeting with the professors. This was a much better learning experience than during my undergraduate years.


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phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Paul - Thank you for giving permission. I mentioned your name as the source of the questions that led to the hub, "Change in Higher Education -- Why is Tenure Disappearing in American Universities?" Of course once I started answering your questions I kind of wandered all over the place. :) Occupational hazard for us writers, I guess.

Your experiences at Univ of Wis , where you had really large classes your first two years. is unfortunately all too typical at medium and large institutions. I say unfortunately because at the very beginning of their college career students need smaller classes and contact with their professors more than they ever will/ Studies have proven that students whose freshmen classes are between 25-50 have a much lower drop out rate. They stay and finish with a degree. That should be our goal. But really large classes bring in lots of money that can be spent on other things. But what could be more important that retaining students, seeing them through to graduation, and changing their lives?

Like you, when I took graduate level courses, (early 90's. Emory University, Atlanta) all my classes had between 8 and 18 students. We usually sat around a long conference table, and it was wonderful. The smaller class size was one of the most appealing things to me about the institution where I teach, for the last ten years we have been between 1000-1200 students. Lower level classes never go over 25-30 and upper level major courses usually have 10-20 students. It is wonderful. :) This year because we added football we will hit 1300. I am OK with that. :)

About eight years ago I was invited to apply for a position in German History (so cool) where I spent a couple of years as an adjunct. They liked me and I liked them, but their enrollment was 9000 (not a huge university). But I knew most of the history classes ranged from 50 to 150 students and I didn't want to spend my career doing that. Now if I had been unemployed I would have taken it in a heart beat, of course. :)

Your life and career trajectory sounds like it has been very interesting. Thanks for the conversation and I hope you have a good week. Theresa

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