Writing a tenure statement 2011

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Writing a Tenure Statement

Writing a Tenure Statement

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  • 1. Writing a Tenure and/or promotion Statement
    Wednesday, June 15, 2011
  • 2. Overview
    The concept – what and why
    General observations
    The research statement
    The teaching statement
    The service statement
    References/sources of information
  • 3. The “Official”
    The candidate’s statement should report on the past accomplishments, present activities, and future plans of the candidate across three areas: research, teaching, and service. It should provide the candidate’s perspective on and interpretation of these matters and go beyond simple reiteration of the content of the vita.
    The statement should be written to engage and be understood by both a general academic readership comprised of the FPC, dean, and provost and by a professional readership comprised of the departmental and external reviewers.
    The statement should be no longer than 5-6 single spaced pages. Research and teaching are the primary foci and will likely be close in comparative length. Service, while important, is less central to the case and may be less detailed.
    The dossier should contain the candidate’s statement as seen by the external reviewers. If the candidate wishes to provide an update, submission of a signed and dated listing of updated items is preferable to an entire new statement.
    The statement must be signed and dated by the candidate.
  • 4. Why?
    “My CV speaks for itself.”
    “The personal statement … is your opportunity to make your own case. The statement communicates a quick sense of whether you know who you are, where you’ve been, and where you’re going in your career.”
    Getting Tenure, M. L. Whicker, J. J. Kronenfeld, R. A. Strickland
    Sage Publications, Inc.: Newbury Park, CA, 1993.
    “… the personal statement provides context for your achievements beyond what is visible on the c.v., showing that they fit into a meaningful plan for your development as a scholar, teacher and university citizen.”
  • 5. General Observations
    Writing a statement helps each of us understand just what are our contributions have been, and what impact we have had. Understanding these, in turn, can help us see where we want to go, and think better about how to get there.
    The personal statement allows you to explain the value of what you’ve done, the honor of the recognition or awards you’ve received, the impact of your research grants and scholarly work.
    Just as the overall file provides the overall total impression of the candidate, the personal statement is the single quickest impression you provide.
    Your statement will be read by many, including the external reviewers.
    Get others, both inside and outside of your university, to read and critique your statement.
  • 6. General observations
    An oversight committee is more likely to read a four-page statement carefully than to read your last three articles. The same is true for a dean or provost.
    Make a strong and persuasive case for excellence in teaching and research and valuable service contributions.
    KEY: Quality of work, productivity over time, and impact.
    What distinguishes your contributions from those of colleagues in your field? Where have you succeeded where others have not (without maligning anyone else)?
    Advocate for yourself, but be factual; confident but not boastful, intelligent but not stuffy.
  • 7. General observations
    Blending of categories is inevitable – e.g., mentoring undergraduates in a research laboratory can (and presumably should) be considered both teaching and research, and can be addressed in either (or both) section(s).
    Make this your best writing. It is not uncommon for outside evaluators to draw upon your own comments in their written evaluations.
  • 8. Do’s
    Convey the excitement of your research & teaching
    Emphasize the broadest implications of your work
    Highlight potentially hidden strengths
    Explain gaps in your record – be your own spin doctor, contextualize the strategic choices of your career
    Simplify, integrate, summarize!
    Use graphics to illustrate complicated concepts
    Use sub-headings as signposts
    (modified from: http://www.indiana.edu/~deanfac/tandp/dos%20and%20donts.pdf
  • 9. Don’ts
    DON’T make it a chore to read your personal statement.
    Emphasize primary areas of strength
    Avoid excessive detail, explain selected examples well
    DON’T use excessive technical jargon.
    Impediment to readers outside your field
    Explain (simply and clearly) critical terms
    DON’T ignore your weaknesses.
    Imagine your worst critics – use your statement to undermine their case
    Be honest – acknowledge weaknesses, but demonstrate how you’ve overcome them
  • 10. The Research Statement
    Quality of your Research/Original Creative Work
    How your strategy for conducting research or your approach to original creative work contributes to the quality of your efforts.
    Programmatic Nature of your Research/Original Creative Work*
    How your individual research projects contributed to your program of research, or how individual projects contributed to the focus of your original creative work.
    Sustainability of your Research/Original Creative Work
    How your research shows promise for ongoing publication and external research funding = TRAJECTORY!
    Productivity in Research/Original Creative Work
    How the strategic decisions you made on publishing and presenting your work furthered your program of research/focus or original creative efforts.
  • 11. The Research Statement
    Using Teaching and Service to Enhance Research/Original Creative Work
    How your class discussions have been used to explore potential questions for your own research/original creative work (or vice versa).
    How your service to professional associations has provided opportunities to further your program of research/focus of original creative work (or vice versa).
    Additional Evidence on Research/Original Creative Work
    Add any additional evidence as appropriate.
    James P. Sampson, Jr., David F. Foulk, and Marcy P. Driscoll
    College of Education, Florida State University
  • 12. The Research Statement
    Include goals for the future, position your work (future and past) within a larger body of work.
    Getting Tenure
    Marica Lynn Whicker, Jennie Jacobs Kronenfeld, Ruth Ann Strickland
    Sage Publications, Inc.: Newbury Park, CA, 1993
    (excerpts: http://orgs.odu.edu/womenscaucus/docs/Tenure%20Tips.pdf)
  • 13. “Programmatic” research
    Having one or two clear and consistent programs of research, or foci of original creative work, makes it more likely that faculty members will achieve their goals and make substantive contributions to their field.
    Programmatic research involves a systematic investigation of related elements of a research topic.
    The synergy inherent to programmatic research helps faculty members gain insights and specialized expertise that would not be possible if their research was conducted on a variety of unrelated topics.
    Programmatic research provides greater visibility for a faculty member as other researchers note the consistent contributions of the faculty member in publications and conference presentations.
    Similar advantages exist for having a thematic focus for original creative work.
    All that said, serendipity resulting from new funding options, technology, or other developments may provide new opportunities that should not be ignored.
  • 14. “Programmatic” research
    To the extent feasible, try to portray your work as an integrated whole, rather than a series of loosely connected projects. You want readers to come to the conclusion that your work adds up to something significant.
    Focus on the similarities and over-arching conclusions in your work, not its repetitive or diverse nature.
    Would you vote to tenure someone who:
    “studied transportation modeling, residential choice, projections, planning theory, operations research methods, energy, GIS, and rank-size rule?”
    How about someone who:
    “laid out the map that many…use to navigate (the) way through the turbulent waters of applying computers and mathematical models to cities and city planning?”
  • 15. Know your audience
    Your statement will be read not just by departmental and external reviewers, but by the faculty serving on retention, promotion and tenure committees at the college and university levels, and by those serving as administrators.
    • Colleagues in your department/unit
    • 16. External reviewers (typically 6-8)
    • 17. Departmental review committee (3-5)
    • 18. Department Head
    • 19. Dean’s Advisory Committee (6)
    • 20. Associate Dean and Dean
    • 21. Academic Affairs (2)
    • 22. Faculty Personnel Committee (10)
    • 23. Provost
  • 24. Know your audience
    Write in language that is understandable to readers from diverse disciplines.
    “I have calibrated runoff predictions for curve number II (CN11) and saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ksat) for ADAPT, and CN11, Ksat, and available water capacity for SWAT.”
    “I have shown that higher levels of interconnectivity, coupled with traffic calming interventions, lead to an increase in trip capture and lower VMT.” 
    “My work tying delays in permitting decisions to frequency of land-use code violations suggests the real benefits to urban quality of life that are likely to result from improvements in planning agency staff size and training.”
  • 25. But what about the expert reviewers?
    They will have access to a selection of your scholarly or creative products, presented with as much technical jargon and imperviousness as is typical for your field of specialization.
    They will be impressed by your ability to translate these complex concepts into language that a non-specialist can understand. (I.e., they will gain respect for your ability to teach difficult concepts effectively.)
  • 26. Be optimistic yet realistic
    • If you can’t be positive about your contributions, few others will think they should be.
    • 27. Portray things in their best light, but don’t over-reach – readers may call your bluff.
    “This preliminary work suggests that the phenomenon differs in urban and rural settings; seeking to understand the underlying causes of these differences will be the next step in my research program,”
    is better than
    “This complex phenomenon is as yet poorly understood, so it isn’t unusual that the findings in my several studies conflict.” 
  • 28. Promotion to full professor
    Years in rank beyond six do not change the expectations of what is required; there may be a shift in emphasis between criteria to reflect the many differences individual professional careers entail.
    If it played a key role in your tenure case, it is of historical interest (only).
    Evidence of an enhanced (inter)national reputation.
    Leadership roles.
    Conference organization vs. presentation
    Panel leader vs. member
    Professional society board position vs. membership
  • 29. The Teaching Statement
    Fostering Student Achievement
    How your philosophy of, methods of, or assumptions about teaching is/are congruent with the typical needs of your students.
    How you foster student achievement by balancing high standards for performance with appropriate levels of support.
    Course Content
    How your course content has contributed to the attainment of knowledge and skills needed by your students.
    How you ensure that your course content, including instructional resources that you have developed, is congruent with current knowledge and professional practice.
  • 30. The Teaching Statement
    Course Development
    How your development of courses has contributed to the attainment of knowledge and skills needed by your students.
    Curriculum Development
    How your development of specializations, majors, distance learning programs, certificate programs, or degree programs has contributed to the attainment of the knowledge and skills needed by your students.
    Mentoring and Academic Advisement of Students
    How your work in mentoring and academic advising contributes to your students’ professional identities and the development of skills in research and practice.
  • 31. The Teaching Statement
    Using Research and Service to Enhance Teaching
    How you have used your research to improve your instruction (courses, directed individual study, and supervised research).
    How you have involved students in your research.
    How you used your professional association work to keep your courses up-to-date with current knowledge and practice.
    Additional Evidence on Teaching
    Add any additional evidence as appropriate.
    James P. Sampson, Jr., David F. Foulk, and Marcy P. Driscoll
    College of Education, Florida State University
  • 32. Clarity is appreciated
    Compare these two descriptions:
    My classes, aimed at lower division undergraduates, upper division undergraduates, master’s students, and post-graduate school professionals, utilize traditional and innovative teaching methods, including lectures, discussions, debates, small group exercises, and fieldwork assignments. Throughout these many settings and pedagogical devices I seek to place the student at the center of the learning process; to emphasize independent thinking; and to allow the student to taste success by giving him/her enough latitude to fail.
    In class, I place the student at the center of learning. Often using innovations involving small group exercises and fieldwork, I ask students to think independently, and encourage them to taste success by risking failure.
  • 33. Promotion to full professor
    Evidence of high-quality performance
    To some extent, increasing “higher level” efforts
    Course/curriculum conceptualization, design
    Instructional technology
    Other modern/innovative teaching techniques
    Mentorship of junior faculty
    Student committee service
    External speaking engagements supportive of record of teaching excellence
  • 34. The Service Statement
    Nature of your Service to the Program, Department, School, College, and University
    How your service contributions relate to ongoing or emerging needs of the institution.
    For senior faculty, efforts you have made to mentor other faculty.
    Nature of your Service to the Profession
    How your service contributions relate to ongoing or emerging needs of the profession.
    James P. Sampson, Jr., David F. Foulk, and Marcy P. Driscoll
    College of Education, Florida State University
  • 35. The Service Statement
    Nature of your Service to Society
    How your work contributed to meeting needs identified in your community, state, nation, and other countries.
    Using Teaching and Research to Enhance Service
    How your teaching has contributed to the provision of continuing professional development offerings.
    How your research expertise has contributed to the work of your professional organization.
    How your research expertise has contributed to being an editorial board member for a refereed journal or a Federal grant review committee.
    How your research expertise has contributed to the work of your program, department, school, college, and university.
    Additional Evidence on Service
    Add any additional evidence as appropriate.
  • 36. Promotion to full professor
    Greater expectations
    Leadership roles
    Committee chair vs. member
    Conference organization vs. presentation
    Panel leader vs. member
    Professional society board position vs. membership
  • 37. Wrap-up
    Balance technical vs. accessible
    Only one part of your P&T file, but …
    … your best chance to make your best case
    Opportunity to
    clarify any uncertainties in the CV
    write your own letters of evaluation
    demonstrate your ability to teach
  • 38. A Counter-Example
  • 39. Relax
    “That’s easy for you to say!”
    Not really – I will work with your dossiers and want you to be successful.
    Don’t let promotion & tenure overwhelm other aspects of your life.
    Consider it a challenge, not a land mine.
  • 40. Resources
    Google search: personal tenure statement
    Getting Tenure, Marica Lynn Whicker, Jennie Jacobs Kronenfeld, Ruth Ann Strickland; Sage Publications, Inc.: Newbury Park, CA, 1993 (excerpts: http://orgs.odu.edu/womenscaucus/docs/Tenure%20Tips.pdf)
    James P. Sampson, Jr., David F. Foulk, and Marcy P. Driscoll, College of Education, Florida State University (www.dof.fsu.edu/content/download/31414/196226).
    The Irrepressible Women Planners. 2003. The Yellow Book: How (Not) To Get Ahead In Academia. Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, Faculty Women’s Interest Group
    Modern Language Association, Task Force on Evaluating Scholarship for Tenure and Promotion. Report. 2006. MLA Report on Evaluating Scholarship for Tenure and Promotion. New York