Why tenure-track? What happened after getting denial?


This figure shows the decreased percentage of tenure-track faculty over the past 40 years.

Source: AAUP’s “Higher Education at the Crossroads: The Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, 2015–2016”

I recently read some interesting news related to our discussion about tenure track and want to share it with you.

The first question is why tenure track?

There are several benefits for you to consider from a tenure-track position. First, the job security from a tenure position gives you peace in mind. It sets you free from a lot of pressure so you are able to think and to create. Thinking or getting new ideas marks the starting point in your research career.  Also, the tenure position provides freedom to pursue research areas that you are interested in. It is especially important when your research direction is totally new or controversial. Furthermore, with tenure-track, you can do the right thing without being afraid. You are free to speak your mind even it is in opposition to the administration system. That makes universities a special place where decisions are made by experts in that field.

For universities, without tenure track system, it is hard to compete with industry to get the top scientists.

The second question is recent changes in tenure-track process?

The process of getting tenure-track varies widely among universities. However, many universities are making it more transparent by proving clear guideline and more mentoring. By doing it, the final decision of getting or not getting the tenure position is not a surprise. The advice is making sure you ask for details about the tenure-track process before accepting the job.

In additions, among research, teaching, and service, research has always been the top priority. Previously, when the research task is fulfilled, other tasks do not matter much. However, the significance of teaching and service are increasing.

The third question, effects after getting tenure denial?

There are down moments in academic life when your paper is rejected or your grant application is failed. A tenure denial seems to be the biggest disappointed one. The first obvious outcome is disturbing research work of undergrads, grads, or post-docs. Typically, after being denied, young professors are given one terminal year to wraps up all the work. They also have to find a new job, which might come along with relocation. The situation gets worse if the whole family has to move. For young professors themselves, they have to overcome the stigma of failure in academia and prepare themselves to start over.

At the same time, getting tenure denial might open up a new and even more rewarding job. It is just a moment in your life, you have to keep moving forward.

Please find the following links for interesting articles related to tenure-track on Chemical and Engineering news:

  1. Walking the tenure tightrope: http://cen.acs.org/articles/94/i37/Walking-Tenure-Tightrope.html
  2. Moving on after tenure denial: http://cen.acs.org/articles/94/i37/Moving-tenure-denial.html

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