Open Thread Wednesday: After Submitting the Tenure Dossier

Fresh Minted Paper flickr photo by Zach_Beauvais shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

The start of the semester is full of beginnings: new classes, new students, new positions, new challenges. For some of us it’s also a time of transition. Faculty applying for tenure and/or promotion typically spend the summer preparing dossiers, and submit files at the end of summer, preparing for what can often be a nine-month process of waiting, commenting, and holding one’s tongue. I submitted my tenure file a few weeks ago, after writing about the process on and off over the years here at ProfHacker from preparing my first tenure box, switching universities, moving from physical to digital materials, and preparing materials for external review. But there’s tons of articles like these on the process of preparing for tenure — it’s what comes next that seems to be far less discussed.

I appreciated my university’s foresight in holding a seminar on what happens after the dossier goes in: if your university has a faculty center or outreach program, it’s worth checking to see if there’s a similar discussion, as processes and timelines vary from institution to institution. After spending too much time on Facebook comparing notes with fellow tenure-seeking colleagues at other institutions, I’ve realized that none of the pre-tenure advice I’ve received through the years had ever really talked about this part of the process.

Personally, I’ve found it most helpful to go in search of some of the advice about what comes next: many years ago now, Nels wrote a post here on “Handling the Stress of the Tenure Process” that still resonates for me today. “Terry McGlynn’s posts on what to do if you’re facing tenure denial and looking back on a tenure denial seven years later can be particularly helpful if you are (or are feeling) precarious. Similarly, Jennifer Diascro’s piece on tenure and failure and other articles in the post-tenure denial genre offer some insight into outcomes and consequences. Karen Kelsky’s blog is filled with advice I found relevant throughout the process of applying for tenure, but one of her posts on eliminating references to feelings from the tenure document (and perhaps the entire conversation) particularly resonates with me post-tenure application.

This is potentially a great time to focus on wellness, teaching, and moving forward in research that was perhaps sidelined during parts of the tenure track dossier-writing process–but for me it’s also, inevitably, a time of reflection. For those of you in a similar milestone year, what are your strategies for post-tenure dossier submission? Share your tips in the comments!


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