Arnost's query on tenure and promotion generated an awful lot of bile. People were annoyed at him for a variety of reasons, but mostly for asking a "stupid fucking question" and for being a "t-t snowflake." We've chosen a handful of the more lively posts we received, and listed them below - in the fashion.
- I just made tenure this past year, so yeah, I could help you, but I won't. You're as big of a whiner as the adjuncts that you're whining about, and if you can't figure out something as painfully simple as how to throw a bunch of letters, syllabi, and eval into a binder, I'm sure your tenured colleagues are already referring to you behind your back as "one of our mistakes" and you'll be back in the adjunct pool soon enough. I spent maybe a day or two putting together my tenure application. It's not like you didn't have six years to plan it, right? I mean, you knew you were on a tenure track, I presume. You're adrift at sea? I'm waving; you're drowning.
- The secret answer for Arnost is this. Your T&P has already been decided. Oh, no, it's not official, and nobody in your department will fess up, but they know if you're going to get the bumps or not. Your portfolio then, merely has to accomplish what the instructions ask for. Student evalutions? Copy them and three hole punch them and put them in there. Letters from former students and colleagues. Ask for them, copy them, three hole punch, well, you get me, right? Nothing Arnost does at this point is likely to change the minds of his colleagues who've just spent a number of years deciding if he's in the club or not. If he's indeed "aggravated" everyone, well then I'd suggest he renew that subscription at the Chronicle so he can check jobs for next year.
- I try to take everything I read on RYS with a grain of salt and a giant tablet of common sense. But Arnost really got under my skin. His claim that he has the "handout" but can't start because it's too "vague," is the exact excuse I hear from the very worst of my snowflakes. Arnost sounds like a big fucking baby.
- Tell Arnost to bite me. If he's so superior because he's TT, then he should be able to figure the process out for himself. He just listed everything he needs - so what exactly is he asking? Can he figure it out or not? Or is he just a TT-Flake? "Ah - the book says the metals are on the left and the non-metals are on the right. But it never explains how we're supposed to know what the elements on the left are. Can you help me with this?" Screw you, Arnost. I hope you get black balled. There are adjunct openings at six of my nine campuses. Watch your back in the caf., jerk.
- Getting tenure depends wholly on the policies of your university, and your department. Some have well-defined, written probationary plans that are negotiated and agreed on in advance. Others decide tenure disturbingly arbitrarily. Some departments like large numbers of publications in refereed journals. Some check the Citation Index, to see whether anyone actually reads your papers. Many like bringing in large amounts of external funding. Some like high scores on anonymous student evaluations of teaching. Some understand the limitations of these, and use peer reviews instead. Some don't care much about teaching at all. Some solicit peer recommendations from faculty at other universities. Many require at least some university or community service, but you likely won't get by only with service. There are few universals. Probably the closest to a universal is that it's important to get along with the other people in your department. No one wants to spend the next 30 years with someone they can't stand, or can't even work with, particularly since they might be relying on all tenured faculty to serve at least one term as department chair, sometime in the future. James Watson was notorious for being unpleasant, but he had a Nobel Prize: you probably don't. It wouldn't hurt if you stopped kicking the poor, freeway-flying adjuncts, too.
- I cleared the tenure hurdle a few years ago, and I STILL don't know what the criteria are. In my experience, applying for tenure is like high-jumping the dark. You don't know how high the bar is, or even where it is. All you can do is pick a likely spot, jump as high as you can, and when you land on your butt, the nice man with the clipboard will tell you whether you are are still in the game.
- Jesus Christ! Anxious Arnost takes a pot-shot at adjuncts and THEN basically admits he's a dumbass. Dude, did you bother paying attention to your colleagues at your cushy t-t position? Ever bother asking one of them what to do? I mean, they are the ones doing the evaluating. And I presume you have been there quite a few years. Follow the directions on the fucking handout! Christ on the cross! If you're gonna whine like a clueless snowflake, at least show a little graciousness for your colleagues NOT on the tenure-track. I hope you don't get tenure, you pretentious douchebag.
- I wish I had good news for Arnost. But as a longtime and tenured faculty member at a school that had an explosive growth over the past 20 years, I can tell you that the results of his T&P are likely already in and decided upon, even before he gets around to doing the laborious paperwork. The simple fact has been at my university that when folks come up for T&P, we already know if we want to keep them. All they have to do is hand us a dossier that has enough i's dotted and t's crossed. It could be 80% gibberish and I'd be okay with it if the person in question has spent his/her years wisely on the tenure track. Contrast that with the story of Eager Beaver Ben from 2 years ago who everyone HATED from the moment he burrowed onto campus. His T&P dossier was a wondrous creation, thrilling, beautiful, and all the rest. But he was such an asshole for 6 years, that we couldn't wait for a "legitimate" reason to send him packing. Tell Arnost that all his worry about what to do is too late.