I began seriously thinking about applying for full professor maybe about 6 months ago. I think I’ve mentioned that here, outlining why going up matters to me, but in any case I’ve been sure about my reasons for wanting to go up for a good long while, and the short version of those reasons are the following:
- No women are fully promoted in my department.
- Promotion to full comes with a nice bump to my base salary (not a million dollars or anything, but nothing to sneeze at when I wonder whether we’ll ever get a raise again, or whether they’ll just periodically do what they did last year, which was to give one-time merit-pay based on base salary).
- There’s no reason not to go up: if I’m denied, it carries no penalty, and I can go up again in the future if I’m denied.
- Being fully promoted will give me more clout in conversations about the future of the university/department, and it will give me more autonomy in terms of determining my workload, especially as it pertains to certain kinds of service obligations (though I know some other service obligations will crop up in place of those, the ones that will crop up are more meaningful and often less time-consuming in aggregate).
- If I go up for full and get it, I won’t need to think about whether I should or shouldn’t apply anymore.
Beyond thinking about those reasons, and thinking in a general way about what I’ve achieved over the past five years, though, I haven’t been very concrete about beginning the process of putting my stuff together. Because, you know, that would make it “real.”
But I decided I should set up a lunch with a fully promoted mentor, and once I did that, it occurred to me that if this was going to be anything other than a pleasant lunch I needed to come up with some concrete questions about the process. And that then led me to the faculty handbook.
See, since I was pre-tenure, I haven’t really thought so much about the whole “jumping through hoops and documenting them” portion of this profession. I mean, I’ve been jumping through the hoops, but I haven’t thought about it that way. It’s the thinking about it that way that makes me Freak Out.
So going through all of the criteria, and all of the possible permutations of evidence that I could compile to demonstrate that I’ve met the criteria, made me Freak Out.
Here’s what I think right now, having forced myself to confront the criteria directly: I’ve done so much in the past five years, but I’m not quite sure if it’s enough, even if it’s more than a lot of people do. I’m concerned that the full professor dudes in my department will not support my application, no because anything is “missing” but rather because it’s my impression (though I’m not sure if this is a totally fair impression) that they see their role as a gate-keeping role. And the faculty handbook, in all its vagueness, and the fact that our department handbook offers little to no additional insight, can allow that interpretation of the role of the fully promoted colleagues who will decide on my application. And I’m wondering how much campaigning they will expect me to do in order to garner their support. And, frankly, I’m wondering what they actually expect me to have done.
Two things would make me feel a hell of a lot better – one of which is only partially in my control, and one of which is entirely beyond my control. 1) If I can get the book manuscript finished (the part in my control) and a contract in hand, I’ll feel secure that they can’t deny me on the basis of scholarship. (A book is NOT technically required, and I can demonstrate my progress toward the completion of the book even now, plus I’ll have published three or four full-length articles by the time I go up, as well as one short article, all peer-reviewed, and a couple of review essays. I think that shows consistent scholarly engagement, but will that be enough without a contract in hand?) 2) If I get the Big (for the humanities) Teaching Grant that I applied for, then I’ll feel totally secure about the teaching part of things (about which I already should be secure, but for whatever reason, I’m not). But if not… yeah, I guess what I’m saying is that I just don’t trust the people who will be evaluating me to recommend my promotion.
But whatever. I’ve got like 10 months to get myself on solid ground, and I have to believe that I can do that. And, even if I end up getting denied, ultimately, then I’ll be well on my way to resubmitting the application in a year or two.
Whatever. I needed to face the actual requirements, no matter how crappy they make me feel. Better to face them now so that I can do all the things to put forward the best application possible.