Survive as an experimental physicist
Sep 14, 2015
The Center for Teaching and Learning at USD organized a workshop on
promotion and tenure process. The vice president in academic affairs, Jim
Moran, described the USD mission and vision as the context of the process. An
important aspect of tenure is to protect the academic freedom as pointed out by
him. He also gave some statistics of the historical promotion and tenure rate:
According to him, the rate is way above the national average, which is about
60% if I remember correctly.
He then asked some FAQ to three panelists, Jill Tyler, Mike
Allgrunn and David Burrow, who are members of the USD
Promotion & Tenure Committee. Things that I learned from the discussion are
- It is natural that your performance in teaching in the first year is bad.
Admit it, try to fix it, and don’t be defensive. It is OK, as long as you
show a clear trajectory of improvement in late years.
- Describe in detail what is your role in each publication. Such as why there
are so many coauthors, why your student is the first author instead of you,
etc. Most people in the promotion and tenure committee are not from your
discipline, and don’t know situation which is common in your field. Explain
to them instead of letting them to figure it out.
- Ask your chair to setup a context for your development. Clear define the
percentage of your teaching, research and service tasks. It is OK if the
percentage changes according to the needs of your department as long as your
effort reflects the changes.
- Track your effort to tenure clearly and frequently. Update the database where
you keep the record of your effort frequently.
- The promotion and tenure committee knows that you are human, that the
decision is very important to you. They assume that you are qualified, and
try to find the evidence from your submitted material - Make those evidence
clear to them so that they don’t have to search hard.
- The promotion and tenure committee only check if you meet the criteria, it is
not about your personality or anything else.
- You can contact the Council of Higher Education (COHE) if you feel that you
are treated unfair in the process. Do it as soon as possible. However, COHE
cannot change the decision. It can only investigate whether the process
leading to the decision is fair or not.
- Try to do services that you are passionated about. Don’t take too much
services that you don’t have time to teach and conduct research.