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Department Chair #3

Jared Johns: Case #1

Characterization of Institution

Comprehensive State University, Science and Technology campus

Characterization of Department

M.A. granted in English (Degree granted jointly with another campus in the 4 campus system.)

B.A. granted in English
(The English department has some 40-50 majors, and teaches a large number of service courses for the engineering students.  The English major is a very traditional literature degree.)

In the department; all tenured faculty (currently 5 out of 10) are members of the departmental P&T committee.  Each department elects a rep to the College of Arts and Sciences P&T committee (I have served on it), and each school elects a rep to the University-wide commitee.

How would Jared Johns’ case turn out in your department?  At your university/college?

The department probably would have voted in favor of reappointment at our 3rd year review, with very clearly-expressed reservations about whether Johns would be granted tenure.  The University-Wide 3rd year review committee (separate from T&P; I’ve been on a couple of these) would have agreed.

Our department requires 3-5 articles in peer-reviewed books or journals, or a book, for tenure.  The publications would seem weak to our department, and the teaching would seem weak on all levels. We do not do outside evaluations for 3rd year reviews, but they count for a lot in tenure reviews, since ours is a small department in which there is little overlap of specialization.  Outside evaluations also carry a lot of weight at the college level.  Given our current focus on recruitment and retention, teaching evaluations would be a major concern.

What are the Department Chair’s responsibilities toward Johns?  Which did she/he fulfill?  Fail?

John’s work with the student technical consultants should not be faculty work, and the chair should have warned him away from it right from the start.  Administering the facility is one thing; trouble-shooting machines and installing software is something else.  I’m not sure whether Johns should have realized this, the chair should have, or whatever–but something very much like this happened to a foreign language professor at our institution, and I blamed the chair for letting it happen.

There is clearly some need for intervention with Johns to bring up his course evaluation scores and to get him on the right track with publication.  As chair, I would be worried whether I had clearly enough laid out the issues with Johns–or whether he was just not listening well, which seems to often happen.

At the very least, the chair should have worked at finding Johns a mentor–not just evaluators and judges of his teaching.  Johns seems to have been going it very much alone in the department, and going wrong.

The chair should have either gotten behind the technology advisory committee or helped Johns back away from the writing facility work–which seems to have brought him very little credit and taken a great deal of time.

What are the Personnel Committee’s responsibilities toward Johns?  Which did they fulfill?  Fail?

They at least should have figured out how to read his on-line material.

What are the responsibilities of the Dean?  Which did she/he fulfill?  Fail?

In our department, tenure and promotion is primarily a departmental issue.  I’m concerned, though, that the “administration” of the computer facility that this faculty member undertook was actually more like “technical support,”  and budgeting for this might be in the dean’s balliwick.  (In my case, I just throw myself at the mercy of computer services and let them do the scut work.)

What are Johns’ responsibilities?  Which did she/he fulfill?  Fail?

Johns needed to make allies and get help–from the chair or from other members of the department.  He needed to figure out how to raise his teaching scores.  And he needed to publish in venues that the department would recognize as scholarly.

He needed to figure out how to spend his time most productively.  The listserv might have brought him professional recognition, but not credit toward tenure.  Better to wait for this kind of project until you have tenure.

What went wrong?  What went right?

What went wrong is that this hard-working, intelligent faculty member has just a couple of years to pull together the publications and teaching evaluations he would need to be granted tenure at my institution–and at most others. He needed some canny mentoring from someone who could help him plot out pre and post tenure career strategies.  He seems to have been much more successful at the work of his discipline than at meeting the institutional criteria for tenure and promotion.

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