Conference on College Composition and Communication Logo

Department Chair #1

Sherry Richer: Case #4

Characterization of Institution

Research I University, State University

Characterization of Department

Ph.D.’s in English and in Composition Studies (Composition degree is English in name and location.)

How would Sherry Richer’s case turn out in your department?  At your university/college?

I’d say that the department chair has already failed this faculty member. And so has the chair of the personnel committee. I’ve been both, so I feel this strongly. Both Chair and PC-chair should have made it clear that doing TA-training software will not substitute for the book, particularly when she’s only teaching one class/semester! And (it’s not clear in the case as presented) that she may even be released from that?  So she has had plenty of time to do her book.

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

The chair would say that this person needed to get on with her publication.  Was there a book in the works? And if so, had she thought about a publisher? If not, what book might she think of pulling together? From the outline of the case as you present it to me, “This is a university that wants a book for tenure.” So those are the rules. The chair of the Department does not have the power to change the University’s rules.

The chair would remind the faculty-member of the calendar: assuming that it would take at least a year to shop her book around, and assuming that her TDY was three years out and that her tenure file would go forward at the beginning of her sixth year (October, at our institution) that she had less than two years in which to complete her book ms and send it out.

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

The Chair/PC Chair might go to the Dean and see if the Dean was willing and felt able to argue that X, Y, and Z were somehow to be considered a book-equivalent in this person’s case.

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

If the Department and Dean could line up on this issue [that X, Y, and Z were somehow to be considered a book-equivalent in this pcase], then the book becomes less of an issue. But everyone needs to know, in writing at this point, what the rules are. The Dean can’t guarantee the Provost’s reaction either—so this is all problematic and depends upon the Chair’s ability to talk frankly and openly with her Dean and her Dean’s ability to talk frankly with her Provost. One could make the argument that times are changing and what this English Department really needs is people adept at and interested in emerging technologies–that the book-requirement is at odds with the university’s need to move into new modes of education. But that argument should have been made during the hiring process.

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

Richer is responsible herself for making sure that she understands the criteria for tenure & promotion to Associate Professor. Her chair has, I’m sure, explained them to her. If Richer thinks that her good works with TA’s will somehow ‘count’ as something else, does she have evidence that this will be the case? Or is she deluding herself? She needs to know what counts, and for what. She needs to know what amounts of X, Y, and Z she needs to qualify for tenure/promotion at her institution.

What went wrong?  What went right?

I don’t know what went wrong or right. If Richer does get tenure, then things went right. If not, not. It depends on the Chair & the Dean and their willingness/ability to negotiate a tenure contract for Richer that does not require the book. It also depends upon Richer’s ability to push projects along and out the door. It does not seem that she’s done a great deal in her first three years; if her second three years is more productive than her first, she might have a chance.

Renew Your Membership

Join CCCC today!
Learn more about the SWR book series.
Connect with CCCC
CCCC on Facebook
CCCC on LinkedIn
CCCC on Twitter
CCCC on Tumblr
OWI Principles Statement
Join the OWI discussion


Copyright © 1998 - 2024 National Council of Teachers of English. All rights reserved in all media.

1111 W. Kenyon Road, Urbana, Illinois 61801-1096 Phone: 217-328-3870 or 877-369-6283

Looking for information? Browse our FAQs, tour our sitemap and store sitemap, or contact NCTE

Read our Privacy Policy Statement and Links Policy. Use of this site signifies your agreement to the Terms of Use