While reappointment and tenure are important hurdles for the tenure track faculty member, it is even more important to maintain an outlook throughout this process that moves one towards the development of a lifetime of scholarly involvement. It is not enough to simply leap this hurdle. A truly valued senior faculty member has taken the time to choose a deliberate course that projects him or her along a strategic and rewarding lifetime trajectory to full professorship.
The process of achieving reappointment, tenure and promotion is most successful if accompanied by an active two-way mentoring process. While instantaneous feedback can be useful, a lasting relationship with one or more mentors fosters growth in a much more meaningful and measurable manner. Your chair as well as faculty within your department can be particularly helpful in identifying strong sources of research funding, introducing you to potential collaborators and identifying excellent places to publish your research findings for high impact. But don’t stop there. Faculty outside of your department and college may provide a fresh and balanced perspective on your achievements and goals and offer interesting interdisciplinary opportunities. Also, many resources exist to assist you with the challenges of teaching; the University’s Center for Research in Learning and Teaching (CRLT), the College’s CRLT-North, members of the Engineering Teaching Academy, your fellow instructional faculty and various external workshops designed to foster teaching excellence. For a more detailed discussion of mentoring, please consult ADVANCE’s Giving and Getting Career Advice booklet.
One very important aspect of the tenure process is the development of relationships with academicians outside of Michigan that can serve as external letters of reference. These letters of reference are given much weight in the tenure and promotion decision. You should work hard to foster relationships with experts in your field through active participation in professional organizations, attendance and presentations at national and international meetings, and by visiting faculty at other universities with common or complementary research interests. Please rest assured, however, that should you identify an individual that you do not wish your committee to ask for a letter of reference (perhaps a faculty member in competition for the same research funds), your committee will respect this request.
The composition of reappointment, promotion and tenure committees in the college is determined by the department chair and submitted to the Executive Committee of the college for approval. These committees are typically approved unless an unusual circumstance is known to exist. It is perfectly acceptable to discuss the composition of this committee with your chair.