As of today, it is out of my hands.
First things first: this is totally a different feeling from applying for tenure and my first promotion. After that, I went into a bit of a tailspin, which led me to reading Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga. I know. Clearly I was in a deep, dark place.
This feels much less horrifying. I mean, sure, I might get denied, but I won’t lose my job. There are no real consequences to failure here, while there would be consequences to not applying, i.e., if you don’t apply you can’t get promoted.
Also, I do feel confident – not certain, but confident. Look, I’ll be the first person to tell you that there are weak spots in my application. There are. I had a couple of semesters where my course evaluations weren’t fantastic. Did I ultimately address the things that caused those problems? I did. But how much weight will be given to those? No idea. And since we don’t do peer evaluations of our teaching, and we are never observed by our chair… yeah, that might mean something. (Though one might argue that perhaps if we took teaching seriously enough to evaluate one another as professionals that I might have solved those problems more quickly….) And is my research as strong as I would – in the platonic ideal of what a full professor’s research profile should look like – like for it to be? No, it isn’t. Now, I’m not embarrassed by what I’ve got – given the rest of what I do, I actually think it’s strong. But might these weak spots result in me getting denied? Yes. On the other hand, I’m comfortable that when people review my application that they will understand why I applied. Maybe I’m not a “sure thing,” but I’m not anything to sneeze at either.
And I know this: I worked really hard on my application, and I took it seriously. I made the best possible case for myself that I could make (which my dean emphasized was the most important thing that I should do, when I spoke with her about it). Given some things I’ve gathered from our new provost and dean, I might have included too much. But, as I noted to another administrator, whom I really, really like, I’m in a rhetorically difficult position with this application. 1) None of us actually know what this new dean and this new provost want, since they’ve never seen what our materials have looked like in the past; 2) This is the first year with the new electronic submission process (in our college – the other colleges had a “trial year” last year, but our old dean refused to allow any electronic submissions last year), so within my department the evaluators have never seen something that looks like this, and they might just be expecting what they used to get only uploaded vs. in a binder. Given these two very different audiences, I tried to split the difference and emphasize my narrative (as the dean and provost have indicated they expect) while at the same time including TONS of evidence (the old model was all about throwing everything in but the kitchen sink, which I did not do, but I included more evidence than I would have done if I were more sure that everybody was on the same page about the “emphasize your narrative” portion of things). The way I figure it, nobody is going to have a gun to their heads to click on all the things, so this should make everybody happy. I hope.
I know that working hard on the application isn’t going to get me the promotion – that’s like students thinking that “working hard” means they should get an A – but I also cared a lot about demonstrating that I realize what a big deal this is. I mean, sure, all it really means is that I get an 8% raise. That is a bigger deal than it should be in the financial climate of higher ed, but still, small potatoes. But should I get it, this is my third and final promotion of my career. I don’t want that to be something that I throw together. It is something that should have gravity. It is something that I should invest myself in earning – not only in the work that I do but in the way that I present that work. Effort should be part of doing this, I think, even if it shouldn’t be what gets you the promotion, which I don’t think it should be. Basically, I believe that if you really deserve the promotion, part of what “deserving it” means is realizing just how important this final promotion is and showing that in the care that you take with the application. I know, I’m secretly a Pollyanna. Whatever. I’ll cop to that.
Now, what will be interesting is how all of this plays out over the next three months as the various applications wind their way through the various levels. In my department, four people are applying. This is an unheard of thing. We currently have 6 people who are fully promoted. All of them are men. Over the age of 50. One was promoted within the past decade, and one we inherited when he lost an administrative position. As far as I’m aware, only two of the others went up at the same time. We are not a department that has actively mentored its faculty to aim toward full promotion. (We are a department of around 30… of that 30, only about 7 haven’t been around long enough to be reasonably eligible to apply for full [5 of whom either just don’t have tenure yet or only just got it last year] so basically we are talking about 17 people who should be on track for promotion but who have not been mentored toward what they need to do to achieve it or encouraged to apply. And when I asked for guidance about it I was actively discouraged from applying “too soon” or told that I would “just know” when the time was right.)
Now, one person who is applying is CF, and I know she’s my friend and all, but I expect that her chances are as good as mine or better. While she doesn’t have as good a publication record as I have, she does have better grant stuff than I do, and in service and teaching I feel like we are neck and neck. I also know that she took her application very seriously.
Then there’s me, and naturally, I think that I am grand. That’s a joke, by the way.
Then there is another colleague who…. Let’s just say that there are some Red Flags with this other colleague. But this colleague does do a good job of spinning accomplishments to seem like they are more meritorious than they really are. So it is all about how far the evaluators dig into this colleague’s accomplishments. That said, I know this colleague was working on the promotion application this summer, so I’m sure that the application itself will likely be decent.
Then there is the last colleague, whose application I actually saw a bit of today, who began putting it together a week ago. This colleague is confident because “the materials speak for themselves” and because this colleague believes that s/he has support from one of the full profs. This colleague did not consult with IT about the new format and about best practices for putting together an electronic document of this type.
So, with all of that being said, I am done. If I don’t get it, I’ll have the majority of my shit together to reapply, and I’ll have feedback about what was missing. If I do get it, I CAN SAY EVERYTHING IN MY BRAIN ALL OF THE TIME. Well, I won’t, but I COULD.
In non-promotion news, things with Footloose progress apace. We are going to the symphony on Friday :)
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