Succeeding in an Academic Career: A Guide for Faculty of Color

By Mildred García | Go to book overview

Chapter 8
Defining Success: Promotion and Tenure--Planning for Each Career Stage and Beyond

Caroline Sotello Viernes Turner


BITTERSWEET SUCCESS

Success is usually defined as a favorable or satisfactory outcome or result--for example, the gaining of wealth, fame, or rank. The "success" carrot held out before junior professors in academia is distinctive to higher education: tenure. Tenure, an indefinite appointment that provides faculty with a sense of permanence or stability in their position, is considered the keystone for academic freedom, essential for safeguarding the right of free expression and for encouraging risk-taking inquiry at the frontiers of knowledge.

The general reshaping of higher education in recent years has not stopped respectfully at the traditional boundaries of tenure. Along with promotion policies, faculty productivity, and accountability in general, it has become a topic of intense and occasionally acrimonious debate both within and outside of the academic community. In fact, what I say here may be outdated quickly if the tenure process, now undergoing minute scrutiny, is overhauled, modified, or even eliminated.

In this chapter, I explain the process of achieving tenure for graduate students of color considering an academic career and junior professors. I hope that my perspectives of the journey toward tenure and promotion

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