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« What's your university's tenure process like? | Main | Getting writing done: a pluralistic approach »

01/29/2020

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A grad student

Well, looks like this really is a forum for early-career philosophers after all. (0 comments in 4 days...)

Marcus Arvan

A grad student: yeah, I guess. I’m a bit surprised no one else has chimed in to share their experiences here. Tenure is of course beyond early career, but still, this series is intended to be helpful to early career people—the aim being to give them some idea of what to expect as their careers progress.

Pro-tenure

1. Tenure was very liberating for me. I did some of the things you are supposed to do, when you get tenure. I spoke up against the older more senior people in the department; and I took myself off committees that I thought were ineffective and a waste of time. I also focused my research in a different way, on longer term projects, knowing I would be around for awhile!
2. I would say my job was much better after I got tenure. I even took the opportunity to get involved in initiatives outside the department (I was in a department that made it clear that the department's support was NECESSARY for tenure). In this way I had a richer campus life. And I got to avoid some assholes in my department ... at least some of the time
3. My first sabbatical was transformative for me. I was a visitor at a very active interdisciplinary department at another university. This was very liberating intellectually, and I made a strong push on a book project. This really changed my career path.

reflecting

Marcus,
I am curious how your relationship toward this blog and the people who read it changed once you got tenure. Perhaps you could day a bit about that.
Your perspective obviously changed. You were in the thick of it before. Now you are on the other side, behind the curtain, so to speak.

Marcus Arvan

reflecting: I think that's a great idea for a new series! I'll give it some thought...

new dept chair

I'm at a school where the bar for tenure is relatively low, and I had no real doubts about my status. Still, I was surprised how much getting through the process allowed me to relax. The first thing I did was take a month off from everything. I hadn't taken anywhere near that much time off since I started grad school. I went into the following year in a much better place as a result.

I was tenured two years ago, and I found that with it my priorities changed. I'm now a department chair. Prior to tenure, I never wanted, or even considered, such a role. Tenure was an obstacle I couldn't see beyond. With tenure, I found that I wanted to take on a more active role in shaping my department. And I had gained the confidence that I could do the job well.

Like Pro-Tenure, I've also begun more long-term research projects, knowing that I had the time to do so. And if they didn't work out, I knew I'd be okay. This has also allowed me to be more choosy about what work I focus on.

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