I’m having a lot of trouble writing these days. I don’t do much scholarship anymore; a little here and there, but not much since leaving the academy (proper). My other writing — about tenure — is draining in many ways; important, fulfilling, exhausting. The basics of that story are done, although there’s a lot more underneath it all. I’m just not feeing a lot of it at the moment, so not writing it. Over the summer I started designing a new website, a new blog thread, a book project, and a podcast. But suddenly it’s November and will be Thanksgiving before we know it. My husband pleads with me not to do this, jump ahead two weeks as if they didn’t happen. He wants — deserves — these two weeks. Too late; I’m already at the end of the Fall term with over 30 research papers to grade in three days before the winter holiday break. And high school for my first born and middle school for my second; new adventures, most of them wonderful, a few painful. For them too. I really like my kids; I would choose them. I don’t know what I’m doing half the time, though, hoping that my retirement will be enough to help them pay for the therapy that I’m sure they’ll need after being raised by me. So, I’m a bit paralyzed, intellectually … and physically, as luck would have it, as I lay on the sofa with ice on my back because old and doing stupid 30 year-old-person things. The Buckeyes look horrible. And democracy much worse. So I’m off to touch base with my California peeps because fire again. Then write postcards to voters because those words are discrete, meaningful, communal, doable. I’ll try to stay off Twitter but, really, who am I kidding. I rationalize by counting those words as part of my writing each day. What a cheater. But I’ve got 326 here, so that’s something.
Tenure is the brass ring of the academy, and careers are made or broken in the effort to achieve it in an all-or-nothing race against the clock. Yet, there are few authoritative sources on the rules of the race or how it is to be judged. Instead, the tenure process is generally conceived but highly variable and relatively opaque, and it goes under-scrutinized because those who succeed rarely question the methods and those who fail rarely talk about their experience.
In my contribution to the PS: Political Science and Politics symposium, Reflecting on the Profession, I reflect on a few of the institutional failures apparent from my own denial of tenure in 2010, including lack of transparency, accountability, and effective leadership. I argue for intentional hiring with written contracts that define tenure requirements; clear and transparent tenure standards so junior faculty understand expectations; honest pre-tenure reviews that provide candid feedback about progress toward tenure; meaningful consideration of external evaluations that provide a broader context for understanding accomplishments of tenure candidates; and, effective leadership in the decision making process.
It is an honor to announce the publication of our PS Symposium, Reflecting on the Profession. These articles have their origin in our 2017 NSF workshop, which included a broadly diverse group of political scientists. These authors -- and our many other colleagues who participated last fall -- offer their experiences in the discipline as the basis for much-needed conversation about what works and what doesn't work in political science. We hope this encourages other to tell their #profstories as we all strive for improvements in political science and academe more generally.
Introduction: Reflecting on the Profession, by Susan Sterett and Jennifer Diascro: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics/article/introduction-reflecting-on-the-profession/E4D7F3C66C889F70E2012CF8D7D1DA73/share/da94105e9c3c1a5c92f3ca4275530350efb16410
Balance Is a Fallacy: Striving for and Supporting a Life with Integrity, by Renee Cramer, Nikol Alexander-Floyd, Taneisha Means: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics/article/balance-is-a-fallacy-striving-for-and-supporting-a-life-with-integrity/8A3DAD371551AC75D65426C5D527A834/share/ecdaf0d8cab691fbba5fcaa95c4da5267b6fc016
Making Academic Life "Workable" for Fathers, by Jon Gould & Brian Lovato: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics/article/making-academic-life-workable-for-fathers/8CC50CEFA854582FACBE7FFBF12FFFED/share/b9b105af12888dcc399f064f8f25a0c72b939b49
Rejection of a Manuscript and Career Resilience, by Lee Walker: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics/article/rejection-of-a-manuscript-and-career-resilience/F7CA5A10FFAA67E0B97CA68F2513FA84/share/72ab08bdde874ca0ac371492d579968074c05191
Failure in the Tenure Process, by Jennifer Diascro: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics/article/failure-in-the-tenure-process-we-can-do-better/776E6046EE56758E4EB1E1E4B71B4F5E/share/c2664352277aa01a5dddf06ce0863679dc38de90
Rebounding on the Tenure Track: Carving Out a Place of Your Own in the Academy, by Valeria Sinclair-Chapman: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics/article/rebounding-on-the-tenure-track-carving-out-a-place-of-your-own-in-the-academy/C0993728C71F5B074EEB77D518C31EF4/share/33a52913e46688abf27aaa9b0858eef9801305f3
Navigating the Night Sea Journey: Learning to Let Go after Tenure's Loss, by Stephen Bragaw: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics/article/navigating-the-night-sea-journey-learning-to-let-go-after-tenures-loss/20CCBF184FB46E5CD69ECFE832B1D2D4/share/082b24e5eab3e08b9021c096780cfde312649966
Providing Promotion Pathways That Reflect Changing Faculty Workloads, by C. Scott Peters: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics/article/providing-promotion-pathways-that-reflect-changing-faculty-workloads/1B222CFC1EA5BE5F0D781EF6CE8793D5/share/fdedec1b8befaf97500954cc8611eb195cf4003c
Tenure Track to Think Tank and Back: An Unreproducible Path to Success, Christopher Foreman: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics/article/tenure-track-to-think-tank-and-back-an-unreproducible-path-to-success/CA25CF89931BADE4C54D38BC15932CF6/share/207074638efc4e39bf191879be3f94abd6a4a976