both sides now: tenure edition

Today I visited a tenure-track colleague to observe his class.

I sat in the back corner, taking notes.

I sat on the other side of the desk in his office.

I gave advice on navigating our quirky institution, and answered his questions about the tenure process.

We talked about the academic system and how so much of the process through grad school and during the tenure track years involves oversight and repeated demonstrations of one’s knowledge, whether disciplinary research or teaching, through defenses, oral and written exams, and teaching observations.

This semester, I feel lighter. I have fewer students, but I’m still teaching three different courses, four sections total. I’m still serving the campus and two departments in both minor and major ways. I’m still presenting at conferences, writing proposals, and generally connecting to my personal passion for my disciplines of English and Women’s Studies.

I know how fortunate I am to have had a tenure-track job and to earn tenure in a system that increasingly hires folks on a semester-by-semester and class-by-class basis. 

Today I’m grateful that I’m on this side. I feel a responsibility to help my colleagues, to be a resource, a guide. And, to advocate for all the talented instructors, and to not be one of those professors who gives tenure a bad name.

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