Monday, December 17, 2012

Tenure is ...

Today, there is a thread at Political Science Job Rumor's pondering "Tenure is..."

Which reminded me of this.  Ok, not so much the Peanuts version, but the camp version.  Every summer, I think, the end of the summer camp season would have a show where a version of this song would be sung but with it being about the camp, "Camp Airy is" and would list all the things that Camp Airy was.  Of course, the idea that Camp Airy = Happiness would be implied.

Well, tenure is not always happiness but is often the case:
  • Tenure is relative immunity from dysfunctional senior faculty (so glad, so so glad that I didn't accept the first offer at my last job--hey, why don't you start without tenure).
  • Tenure is less stress.  More work, but less stress as job security is a beautiful thing.
  • Tenure is more work.  At places where junior faculty are protected from service, well, the protection ends.  Regardless, people expect more, such as tenure reviews (which I am doing now because it is more fun than finishing grading, which is like saying that being punched in the gut is more fun than being punched in the groin).  
  • Tenure is freedom to write what you want where you want how you want. Folks tell me that they will start blogging once they are tenured.  I actually doubt that folks got denied tenure for blogging, but there is no doubt that people can be less discreet after tenure (still, so glad that twitter and blogs did not exist when I was untenured)
  • Tenure is more work.  Bears repeating--students will seek out more supervision from tenured than untenured faculty.
  • Tenure is sabbaticals.  Only at elite and rich places are profs eligible for sabbaticals before tenure.
  • Tenure is more work--only tenured folks can be chairs (except at insane places) or directors of programs (ditto).
  • Tenure is limited movement.  Fewer job ads for tenured folk, compared tenure-track positions.  One can move, but not so easily.
  • Tenure is having to judge other people's cases.  Not just in tenure letters but in one's own department.  Voting to deny tenure is incredibly hard but sometimes necessary thing to do.  Writing a negative tenure letter is an incredibly hard but sometimes necessary thing to do.  No joy in that stuff at all.
  • Tenure is no.  That is, tenure means you can say no a bit more often.  It also means both the need to say no in order to get things done and heaps of pressure to say yes.
Tenure is not nirvana, but it ain't bad either.  It is what nearly all aspiring academics seek.  I am very happy to have it (made great use of it the past several years in my previous position), and I am lucky/thrilled that nearly all of my former PhD students are on the tenure track.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a lurker on PSJR, a Carleton grad student, and aspiring Political Scientist I appreciate your candid and useful posts. Score 1 for tenure