Request for Suggestions About Tenure Process

Last week’s Think, Know, Prove was about suggestions for goals for local and district wide Faculty Council, inspired, so to speak, by the report to the board of the outgoing Faculty Council President. In that discussion, a few suggestions were made, including some related to revisions to the Tenure Process.

Then, Faculty Council got this from the FC4 secretary last week:

Faculty Council has been made aware of several inequities in the tenure process such as the revocation of prior approval for courses and projects.  We have reported these concerns to the Office of Academic Affairs.

The Vice Chancellor’s office has asked faculty council to compile a list of these and any other concerns and to make recommendations on how they can be avoided in the future. Please note that we have not been asked to propose any major changes to the process. We have only been asked to suggest ways in which the administration of the current process can be improved.

We asking local faculty councils to relay this request to newly tenured faculty who have recently gone through the tenure process and ask them to send me their comments.

I’m not sure why proposals for “major changes” are seemingly discouraged in the second paragraph (if they ask for suggestions, why not give them major ones and hope that they’ll make at least some incremental ones? I guess I don’t understand district level politics well enough), but whatever.

Any suggestions from you who have “recently gone through the tenure process?” Anything else that wasn’t covered last week? Last call–who knows if or when they’ll ever ask for input on this topic again..speak now if you have something to say!

3 thoughts on “Request for Suggestions About Tenure Process

  1. “… several inequities in the tenure process…”
    Yeah, I’ve got one for y’all:
    Why don’t we limit the teaching load for non-tenures to 12 hours instead of taxing them with 15 hours of teaching, portfolio work, and committee work that demonstrates their commitment to CCC? For goodness sake, I remember one new hire having to teach 5 different courses the first semester of hire. How’s that for a warm welcome?

    Why aren’t there more comments here? I know we all have something to say about the process, so why the silence?
    I would hate to think that just because we are post-tenure that we can’t suggest improvements for our non-tenured members?
    What up?

  2. I’m going to unleash something this weekend when I have some time The tenure process would have been enough to completely disenfranchise me about CCC as a whole if there weren’t so many other good things happening.

  3. Ok, here goes.

    While I’m happy that I was tenured with relatively little strife, I had and still have some major concerns about the process. Here’s a few critiques followed by some proposals for solutions.

    1) From start to finish, it’s actually a relatively short process. This isn’t to say that I’d want to lengthen it but ultimately after 5 semesters, tenure is granted. For some, because of politics (yes this is definitely present given the nature of CCC, and the world really) tenure is granted (or not granted) after very little time unofficially. Through a few conversations with people who made it through the process during the process, I was essentially told that as long as you don’t get “on the radar” of the powers-that-be, you’d be good to go. There’s a solution to this but I’ll get to that later.

    2) The process was a waste of time. Really, it just felt like a bunch of hoops to jump through. Perhaps this is an HWC phenomenon, but the inclusion of myriad pieces of paper evidence of attendance at various events and meetings seemed a bit superfluous and wasteful. Furthermore, despite all of the efforts, there was not a shred of feedback on the portfolio itself unless I was asked to include more stuff. As if anyone was actually looking at it beyond HWC.

    3) The guidelines were vague. I was often making my best guess as to which section various pieces of evidence would fall into.

    4) With reference to the project, teaching full-time while completing a project is no the most practical matter. I’m willing to look past that and think of it as trial by fire. The tough part is having to decide on a project topic within 3 months of being employed at CCC. This was a bit difficult while still getting to know the terrain. The project is supposed to serve the school or students, yet how well can we know the school having only been there for a few months. Now, dept. chairs and other dept. members might have various project ideas, but don’t we want them to be of our choosing to promote full investment.

    Proposals..

    1) Maybe I’m crazy, but I thought that ❤ years was quick to get tenure given that tenure essentially equals a job for life (assuming there are massive cuts or extenuating circumstances). Given the current system, it isn't far-fetched to believe that someone could be granted tenure yet be a horrible teacher. This is not to say that we should be evaluator and evaluation heavy with respect to teaching, but the process should focus more on practice and less on compiling paper.

    2) With respect to what I just said, the tenure process needs not only clear guidelines, but also a clear rubric and FEEDBACK. This is sorely missing. Sure, locally the dean and possibly the chair of the dept. may provide some feedback, but they're not making the final decision. It's remarkable to note that the only formal feedback I received on my project was to be sure I used APA style and consulted the book Classroom Assessment Techniques. Plus, though though are written components in the portfolio, they lack the depth to really engage in critical reflection of practice. Further, there is no guarantee that you'll be able to talk with the person who came to your classroom and evaluated you. Even if you do, there's no follow up during that same semester and often you have different people visiting over the course of the 3 years.

    3. The expectations for the project are inconsistent. It'd be nice to know what was really expected but also whether the projects will "have legs" after the process is completed. I almost feel as though the project for the tenure process could be more of a proposal and lit review for a future project in order to make it more substantive.

    That's all for now. At the least, we need a process that focuses on feedback for the sake of improving/nurturing teaching and learning, not busy work and politics.

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