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Department Chair #3

Sherry Richer: Case #4

Characterization of Institution

Research II

(Here we operate on contracts. No tenure system. It would still take Sherry 6 years to get promoted which she’d get at the start of her 4th, 2 year contract  if she had 3 or 4 publications or a book— traditionally defined.)

Characterization of Department

M.A. granted in English Studies (with either an Applied Linguistics or Literature focus)
B.A. granted in English (with about a 50/50 division between language and literature)
M.A. granted in Communication
B.A. granted in Communication

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

I believe that our Science Faculty accepts published software as a publication as well; therefore, we could do so in the Humanities I think.

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

Here is what I think the Chair should say:  

“Sherry I am very impressed with your work in the Freshman Writing Program. You are really a breath of fresh air in the wonderful ways in which you teach and support the graduate TAs. I’m also very impressed with your innovative software scholarship and my old Harvard classmate who’s at Penn tells me that your listserv is first rate. In short Sherry we value you here.

I am glad to see that you have a chapter in a book as that’ll certainly count as a good publication for tenure,but that and one other article in an electronic journal aren’t enough. You know, you’ll need about 7 refereed articles for tenure,or you could write a book in the next 3 to 4 years and be promoted that way. As Head Sherry, I’d like to see you do a book. That’d make the task of getting you promoted much easier. The way you’re going now, I’d say you’ll fall short on the research articles, so why not a theoretical book on some aspect of the history Rhetoric? That’s what the Department would like to see and that’s what would make the tenure process go smoothly for you”

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

In the scenario you say a few times that Sherry “feels” or has a “nagging feeling”. This makes me “feel” that nobody has clearly told Sherry what she needed to do for tenure. It should be the responsibility of the Chair or his/her designated Personnel Committee member to orient folks like Sherry when they arrive in the department so they are 100% aware of what is required of them.

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

The Dean in a Research II University must make it clear to the departments that promotion criteria must be shared with new faculty as soon as they take up their duties. In most large schools  Deans wouldn’t be involved early on in a case like Sherry’s other than an occasional or yearly letter restating the department’s evaluation of the candidate.

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

I guess that Sherry should have asked (if she wasn’t told) for specific promotion criteria…Not what the criteria should be, but actually what they are.  The candidate does have some responsibility for her future. 

What went wrong?  What went right?

Sherry had too many feelings about the requirements for promotion and seemingly not enough facts. The department was very traditional and couldn’t/wouldn’t allow for non-traditional types of scholarship.Also the department displays a lack of understanding with the types of activities a writing program coordinator or a TA supervisor gets involved in…….Right / not too much. Sherry should have gone to a more flexible institution that was aware of training in Writing Studies today.

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