Inside the Box

Behold, the Tenure Box:

i-47860f6ff54fc016f402f3e89b6e4370-sm_tenure_box.jpg

Well, actually, it’s an oversize milk crate, but that’s nit-picking. The stuff in the box is all for my tenure review: the blue folders are copies of my research materials, the green folders are my teaching materials, the yellow folders are my CV and statements, and the thing at the front is a bound copy of my Ph.D. thesis.

I’m not handing it in just yet– I’m still waiting for an update on a paper that’s been submitted– but it’s basically done. That’s the whole stack of stuff, and now that I look at the picture, I’m sort of wondering whether I shouldn’t’ve made single-sided copies of all those pages, just to bulk it up a little more…

Seems a little anti-climactic, really, but there it is.

Comments

  1. #1 Jennifer Ouellette
    September 1, 2006

    Here’s wishing you the best of luck on your upcoming tenure review…

  2. #2 Brad Holden
    September 1, 2006

    Good luck, not that you will need it.

  3. #3 angryphysics
    September 1, 2006

    What about service? I suppose there’s not too much to include, but maybe some notes of “thank you” for serving (e.g. giving a last minute talk to people or some such).

    Good luck. So when you get tenure, does it go in your “tenure box”? I think they should give us a medal or trophy or something tangible so when people ask us, we just point and say “Sure, I’ve got tenure, it’s right over there in the box!”

  4. #4 Moshe
    September 1, 2006

    Good luck Chad (also, I hope my upcoming case involves less paperwork…).

  5. #5 MaryKaye
    September 2, 2006

    Very best wishes. Congratulations on achieving this milestone in your career. May the outcome justify all of the work.

  6. #6 Perry RIce
    September 2, 2006

    Good luck with all this. Surprised they want a thesis fer dang sake! Here you get 20 pages to prove excellence in teaching research and service, and your pile of papers (plus an overall long winded research “plan”). Service means doing some departmental chores, no college or univ. committees; teaching (with measures besides just student reviews, and these are getting to be more time consuming to generate for our younger folks….) has to be good, but is more of a threshold. Walk on water teacher with a percieved shortfall in “scholarship” isn’t gonna get it, and this is at a BS/MS dept., no Ph. D. Its mainly in the end about papers and to a lesser extent grants. 4 external reviewere chosen from a list of 10 you generate, Dean picks one, Chair picks one, Dept. promotion committee picks one, and you pick one. Then after the reviews come in, Dept. votes, then the College committee (usually the hardest), the the University, then Provost, then President, then Board of Trustees. After the College level it gets more rubber stampy generally. So you work on this in the spring/summer, turn it in in Sept., and the following Feb. at the board of trustees meeting its finished (if not before, hopefully not!) Rather stressful time as you know! My wife is doing this for her promotion to full prof, and shes a little more on edge than usual. Check that, a LOT more on edge!

    The College level can be interesting as some of the humanities types (or even Chem/Bio folks…)will look at an experimentalists list of publications, and the first thing they want to talk about is the “gap”, no pubs for the first 1-3 years. We’ve had to bring them over, show them an empty room “this is where they start”, compare our startup to other schools (AMO person here gets $115k, it may be 140-150 next time), and show them how much equipment is built here, its not storebought cookbook stuff. Our recently tenured cooler trapper has lasers, but they are like yours, grating feedback locked dudes, and he can’t just go buy 4 Verdi’s (I think thats the name for the prepackaged tunable ones…)from New Focus, that are like $20k each), he ends up basically building the stuff around a relatively cheap commercial diode. The non-physics, non-science folks are smart folks so they learn well, but its a pain to have to do this for every damn P&T case we send up. Hopefully your chair and department are running good interference for you!

  7. #7 Chad Orzel
    September 2, 2006

    The process here is that they form an ad hoc committee of four faculty (one from the department, one from another science department, one from engineering, and one from humanities or social sciences) who will review all the material and write a report. The ad hoc committee generates a list of 10-20 external reviewers (as I understand it, by sending the one-paragraph summary I posted a while ago to the editors of major journals and asking them to suggest people), which I get to comment on (I don’t have the right to absolutely veto anyone, though I’m told that if the comment is “this person is a psychopath who once tried to run me over with a car,” that person won’t be selected). They pick three external reviewers, who each get sent a copy of all my research materials, and return an evaluation, which the ad hoc committee includes with its report.

    For the teaching part, the committee gets a written statement from me, copies of my class syllabi and handouts (that’s what’s in the green folders), copies of all my student evaluations for the last six terms, and statistical breakdowns of my grades and evaluations and how they compare to departmental averages. They also conduct interviews with at least 20 students randomly chosen from my classes (tables of random numbers are included in the materials sent to ad hoc committee chairs), and all the other members of the department.

    The service part of the evaluation consists of requesting comments from people in the department, as well as the chairs of any college-wide committees I’ve served on. A written statement about service activity isn’t required, but I included one.

    After the ad hoc committee finishes its report, it goes to the Faculty Review Board, a committee of faculty who make all the tenure and promotion and merit decisions. Their decision then goes to the Dean of the Faculty, the President, and the Board of Trustees, but I think everything after the FRB is pretty much automatic.

    The materials are due on Thursday, and the review is conducted during the Fall term. I’m told that the limiting factor is the speed of the external reviewers, but when everything goes really smoothly, people get the official decision before Christmas. When there are hold-ups along the way, it can drag on into February or March.

    The College level can be interesting as some of the humanities types (or even Chem/Bio folks…)will look at an experimentalists list of publications, and the first thing they want to talk about is the “gap”, no pubs for the first 1-3 years.

    This is a definite concern, and I try to address it in my research statement. They have also occasionally brought in a fourth external reviewer to evaluate lab construction as scholarly activity, which has been okayed by the dean for my case. My chair is also an experimentalist, and has been really great about this issue.

    I’ll probably post the teaching and research statements to the blog at some point, but now that the deadline is upon me, I’m feeling sort of superstitious, so it’ll probably wait until after the process is complete. No need to seek out bad karma, after all.

  8. #8 Perry Rice
    September 2, 2006

    we don’t do the student interviews, that might be interesting. No interviews with faculty, but its often the case you’ll have 2-4 peer reviews of a course from 1-2 faculty, and they write up a summative review which goes in your packet.

    A before and after picture of the lab might not be a bad idea :-)

    One year we had a provost tell us a Rev. Sci. Instrumentation article was not a paper. He was under the impression our guy was sent an HP something or other, and he reviewed it, like a historian might do a book review or something. Relatively easily cleaned up, and when you write this stuff up you hae to try and educate folks along the way. The chairs letter should really do that. This of course where “impact factors” show up. For quantum optics say, Optics Letters is not one of the top (IMHO) but it is rated 1 or 2 for “optics”, so you can always spin it that way.

    Its stressful and annoying to write, then its stressful and annoying as you wonder about the deliberations. As Tom Petty said “the waiting is the hard-est part….” Good luck!

  9. #9 Bill Tozier
    September 3, 2006

    This is great! Best of luck. Or rather, best of political planning and social capital.

    I’ve often wondered: Does it include your old Daytimer pages? The ones with the committee meetings on them? I mean, aren’t you also affected by the proportion of the time you spend listening to Other Important People talk in meetings?

    Or is that just for after tenure?

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