Preparing and Winning Tenure


The worry about receiving tenure starts almost the first day one lands a job as a tenure-track Assistant Professor. "What do I need to do to get tenure?" is a question junior faculty ask almost every day of their lives for the first five or six years of their academic career. There are facts and myths about what one needs to do to receive tenure. Over the next few months, experts from academia will share advice on what junior faculty can do to receive tenure. Here are a few pointers from me:

1. Your tenure clock begins the day you accept the job offer. The clock is ticking and you should be working toward tenure!

2. You must have your portfolio ready the first day you walk into your office. Yes, your portfolio may be empty the first day on the job, but it should remind you that there is work to be done.

3. Read the promotion and tenure policies and procedures. Read it. Read it again. If you have questions, ask your colleagues or Department Chair. Do this the first semester on the job.

4. If your institution requires external reviewers (most institutions do), identify external reviewers early in your career. Create a list of names and get to know these individuals. More important, make sure they know you.

5. Collaborate with colleagues in your department and\or discipline. It is no fun being a lonely wolf.

6. Institutions rarely give tenure to a lousy teacher. Teaching is your chosen calling. Make sure you invest your time in being a good teacher. This is a necessary condition, although it may not be sufficient.

7. Be good at time management. The days go by quickly! No one wants to hear how busy you are, particularly your Department Chair. He or she only wants to see how productive you are!

8. Write. Write everyday, even if it is for fifteen minutes. If not everyday, at least every week. Writing is a difficult activity that demands  intellectual and emotional resilience. The longer you delay writing, the more difficult it will get.

9. Make a list of the journals in your field. Review the instructions for authors. Send your writings to the appropriate journal. Pay attention to their publishing schedule.

10. Be professional, collegial, and gracious to your colleagues. Always.

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