Friday, July 6, 2007

Adjusting and the rules change...

As I catch up from a residential move, I have had some time to ponder the latest developments in my goal to achieve tenure. We now have a new Dean of the College and he is working diligently on raising the profile including that which is decided by the U.S. News rankings. Albeit, problems abound with the methodology of these rankings, this is one of the stated objectives. Naturally, changes have started to occur to achieve these new goals.

For the most part, I wholeheartedly embrace these changes as I think they are going to move the College in a positive direction. For instance, increasing our scholarly productivity doesn't hurt us in any way. But as I approach my 3rd year review, I start to feel some tremors of concern. Why? Quite simply the rules are changing but none of us are exactly sure how that will manifest itself in the tenure review process or the annual faculty evaluations.You see, to raise a ranking one of the ways to do so is to increase the presence in the high impact journals in the discipline. In a one discipline department this might be a bit easier to accomplish. With the proper infrastructure this would also be slightly easier to do. However, we are an interdisciplinary group. We don't all publish in criminology and criminal justice journals. Does that make our publications any less worthy? Similarly, how many publications do we need for tenure consideration? When I started various officials suggested one peer reviewed journal article per year. In my second year, the ante appeared to increase to two peer reviewed journal articles. Now in my third year, the question remains whether it is the quantity or the location of publication. Not sure.

Let's face it. This is a thorny issue even when the guidelines for tenure are well established. Anyone who has been on the job market recently knows that during a job interview everyone is to some extent dodgey about tenure requirements. Probably for a good reason. However, for those of us on the tenure track some clarification would certainly put this probationary faculty member more at ease. As the saying goes: Tell me what needs to be done and I'll get it done. The ambiguity that presides makes this difficult. So, I have decided to take the approach of continuing to do what I have been doing so far. Work on research projects that interest me, do the best work that I can, and publish the results in the most appropriate journal for the given topic and methodology. What happens next? Time will tell.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Notably Absent

It has been over 4 months since my last posting. Yes, that is almost the entire Spring semester. During this time, I have experienced many setbacks on the personal front while still managing to achieve several accomplishments professionally. How I have managed to keep my professional life going is just short of a miracle. My husband and I are now officially separated after 7 years together. My 14 year old son is not dealing with any of this well. My house is on the market and not selling. And as the saying goes...the list goes on.

Considerable personal growth comes out of moments of crisis. But the journey is anything but pleasant and in my case is far from over. I think what has surprised me is the reactions with my colleagues. Sheer horror at the situation. Granted, I work in a predominantly male department. Also consider the fact that I don't advertise my personal situation at work so the reactions are limited to a few out of many. Suffice it to say, I felt compelled to speak with the Associate Dean to make him aware of my situation for a couple of reasons. First, I am not coping well. Although I haven't dropped a ball yet it is not outside of the realm of possibility that it could happen. Second, I am utterly and absolutely overloaded with committee work. It turns out that I made the cardinal sin as a nontenured faculty member to not say "no" at every turn. Finally, I needed relief or I felt as if I would have to file the paperwork for a leave of absence (not a pretty option). This was (to me) one of the more humiliating conversation I have undertaken. Admitting that you are not coping well to your superior at work. Wow! What was I thinking. He was understanding and assured me that I would be relieved of the majority of my committee work. Unfortunately, this did not come to pass. So here I am in the same place I was before...completely overwhelmed.