Seven Questions

I’m going to be too busy to blog much for the next few days. This is partly a matter of it being the end of the term, with lab reports due (drafts tomorrow, the final reports Thursday), and exams (next Thursday), and grading, and an end-of-term push in the lab with one of my research students. But mostly, I’m going to be thinking about seven questions.

The way the tenure process works here is that candidates have two interviews with the ad hoc committee. The first is to meet the committee, and establish a sort of initial context for their fact-finding, while the second interview is to give the candidate a chance to respond to any negative comments from the external reviews of the research materials and the interviews with students and other faculty. The second interview obviously has the potential to be a real carnival of pain, and as a result, the candidates are given the questions that will be asked in advance, and get a few days after the interview to compose and submit written responses to the questions.

There’s a lot of anxiety about the second interview among tenure candidates, and a lot of stress about the list of questions. One colleague put it pretty well, when he inquired as to whether I’d gotten the list yet by asking “So, have all your sins been laid before you?”

My second interview is Wednesday, and I got the list of questions today. There are seven of them, and I’m not going to say what they are, other than to note that they’re all reasonable, and not entirely unexpected. The only surprise is really an omission– they didn’t mention PowerPoint at all, which I hope means nobody said anything negative about it.

Coming up with good answers to those seven questions is going to consume a lot of my mental energy over the next several days. It’s my last chance to directly affect the outcome of the case, so I want to choose my words carefully, and make sure I say the right things, so most of the brain cells I would be using thinking of clever ways to phrase blog posts will be otherwise occupied.

It’s a lot of weight to put on seven questions, but it’s good to be at this stage. If all goes well, I should have a decision before Christmas, and, really, the sooner the better.

Comments

  1. #1 Rob Knop
    November 6, 2006

    Good luck. This sounds very stressful, and I hope it doesn’t kill you.

    But, ugh, having to read and response to the negative comments. Here, in fact, I’ve done it for you:

    1. Whoever said that is mistaken.

    2. The person who brought this complaint is full of baloney

    3. It is self-evident that this is irrelevant.

    4. You’re kidding, right?

    5. An excellent point. However, the solution is actually quite elegant, and is left as an exercise for the reader.

    6. Your mother!

    7. Temporary insanity! Really! I was on twinkies!

    In principle, I would go up for tenure at Vanderbilt next year. The prospect of that does not fill me with you, especially since, being unfunded at the moment, I don’t even have a glimmer of a chance. With luck, that may change during the half-year that is proposal season this year.

    -Rob

  2. #2 Moshe
    November 7, 2006

    Good luck!

    (curious if any of the seven has to do with the blog, but feel free to ignore if inappropriate)

  3. #3 Chad Orzel
    November 7, 2006

    None of them ask about the blog, either.

  4. #4 Ray
    November 7, 2006

    Good luck!

  5. #5 tm
    November 7, 2006

    good luck!

  6. #6 Stoat
    November 7, 2006

    mucho luck!!

  7. #7 Jamie Bowden
    November 7, 2006

    You don’t need luck, you’ll be just fine.

  8. #8 Uncle Al
    November 7, 2006

    “I am a splendid exemplar for the majority to emulate and a dire warning to the remainder who deserve killing anyway.”

  9. #9 John Dilick
    November 8, 2006

    Sounds like you’re getting a hell of a Christmas present, Chad. Best of luck, though I have no doubt you’ll succeed easily.

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