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Chair, Personnel Committee #2

Maricela Guzman: Case #3

Characterization of Institution

Research I

Characterization of Department

Ph.D. granted in English
Ph.D. granted in Composition/Rhetoric
M.A .granted in English
M.A. granted in Composition/Rhetoric
B.A. granted in English

How would this case turn out in your department?  At your university/college?

I don’t think Dr. Guzman would have received tenure here. As a Research I University; the expectations are higher than 6 published articles and conference presentations and a CD-Rom that isn’t clearly connected to her institutional position. Much would depend on the reputation of the journals in which she published, the length and substance of the articles, and the other aspects of her profile—particularly how well the writing center and the program in technology and culture are doing..

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

If Guzman is in her fifth year, her Head’s responsibilities towards her are clear: to do what she has indicated she would do—support her tenure case. But the unknown here is what happened after the third-year review. Was Guzman told that she needed to publish in areas that are more clearly recognized as English Studies (whatever that might mean—since the scenario doesn’t indicate the kinds of places she published, it’s not clear if the problem is with where she’s publishing or how people interpret where she’s publishing)? Was her teaching load protected? It should have been, since running a writing center is significant work. 

Which did the Chair fulfill? Hard to say, given the lack of information about the Head’s response to the third year review in years four and five.  Fail? Again, hard to say. If Guzman were publishing in Computers and Composition, The Writing Lab Newsletter, and other comp/rhetoric journals, then the Head should have dismissed the criticisms of the Tenure and Promotion Committee and in fact worked to educate them.

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

This is a pretty institutionally specific question, depending on the role of the committee, the frequency of reviews, etc. Do untenured faculty get annual reviews? (They do here.) If so, Guzman should have been advised about what she needed to do to improve her chances for tenure, and her next two reviews should have told her how well she was doing. If there are not annual reviews, the chair of the Tenure and Promotion Committee should have certainly advised Guzman about the concerns raised by the Head.  If the committee conversation was only praise, we have to assume the Head’s information about faculty’s dissatisfaction with Guzman’s scholarship must have come from elsewhere than the T&P committee,  so then it would be the Head’s responsibility to advise Guzman. 

Which did they fulfill?  Fail?  There’s inadequate information in the scenario to answer these questions. We don’t know what the chair of the committee did or didn’t do. .

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

The Dean isn’t mentioned in this scenario, so I won’t offer a reply to these questions.

What are Guzman’s responsibilities?  Which did she fulfill?  Fail?

Her responsibilities were to do the job for which she was hired, which it seems she has done. In addition, she has some responsibility for finding out what the tenure expectations are and how the work she’s doing in her first few years fits, though I think most of that responsibility lies with the Head and Tenure and Promotion Committee, which should be particularly attentive to the work of untenured faculty working in relatively new and interdisciplinary areas like technology and writing. 

Which did she fulfill? She’s certainly publishing and she’s presenting at appropriate conferences.  I would assume that at an institution like hers, her profile looks pretty strong, so I’m not surprised she’s likely to get tenure.   Fail?  Well, it depends on what kind of advice she’s been given. From the brief description given in the scenario, the CD-Rom project sounds like a mistake. Not because it’s a CD-Rom, but because it’s about Mars, not writing and technology or writing centers.

What went wrong?  What went right?

What appears to have gone wrong is that Guzman wasn’t given enough information and guidance about what would be valued and what wouldn’t at tenure time. It’s very hard to persuade tenure committees that someone whose profile looks unusual is doing what he or she should be. Unfortunately, untenured faculty have to do work that fits expectations, at least to some extent.

Again, if Guzman’s publications were in composition or composition and technology journals, then the problem isn’t hers; it’s the department’s, and the Head and T&P chair should be doing what they can to educate people. And Guzman’s being dispirited is something that went wrong. The work she wants to do in racism and gender and technology is consistent both with her connection to the technology and culture program and to work being done in composition studies. If she feels it’s not going to be valued, then something is definitely wrong with the place she’s working. 

What went right? Guzman’s likely to get tenure, and her Head is going to support her.

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