Why I Love Doing Midpoint Tenure Review

The time of reckoning has come for me, people. I have been on my tenure-track for 2,5 years, which means that the moment has arrived when I have to fill this humongous binder with papers documenting my every teaching, research and service-related sneeze.

Of course, I whine, complain, and tell everybody how stressed out I am by this process and how the need to write statements in the language that bureaucrats will be able to process annoys me. To be completely honest, though, I really dig the midpoint tenure review.

For one, just the mere chance of getting tenure is something very precious and extremely rare nowadays. Some of the schools that accept people into tenure-track positions don’t really do it in good faith. Their goal is not to ensure that new Assistant Professors get tenure and promotion at the end of the 6-year-long track but, rather, to find reasons to deny tenure to people who busted their asses in hopes of tenure.

My university is not like this at all. Everybody is extremely supportive of my tenure goals at every level of administration. As I’m gathering my documents and writing my narratives, I have many chances to be reminded of how great, helpful and encouraging my colleagues are. Everybody seems to be passionately invested into seeing me succeed, for some reason. And that makes me feel important, respected, and appreciated.

The midpoint review is also a great self-esteem booster. Academics often suffer from lack of feedback on their efforts. You work extremely hard to create an article but then rarely hear anything about it after it gets published. Student evaluations only happen once every semester. The same goes for peer evaluations. As a result, academics often feel lonely and disconnected. They begin to doubt whether what they do has any value.

As one is gathering the mountain of documents needed for the midpoint review, however, one gets a chance to look at all of the publications, conference talks, accolades, grants, letters of support, evaluations, reviews, compliments, etc. that one has accumulated.

“Wow, all of this in just 2,5 years?” one thinks. “I kind of totally rule.”

And that’s a very good feeling.

6 thoughts on “Why I Love Doing Midpoint Tenure Review”

  1. 🙂 I am with you on this one completely. I enjoyed assembling the materials for my tenure and I love doing my annual performance reviews for the same reason — it lets you look back at past accomplishments and revel in your own awesomeness.

    It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to keep a tenure binder and, ideally, meticulously update your CV. If you do that all along (as Clarissa does), then doing any sort of review is not a big deal.

    I was quite anal about keeping records while on the tenure track. Now that I am past tenure, I eased up and unfortunately I now seem to routinely let conference papers slip — there are so many, easily 20 in a year, presented by my students — so I find that I constantly have to ask students to send me a list of where they went and what talks they gave. Also, I wish I kept a closer count of how much I review — I think I review papers and proposals a lot, way too much I think, and I seem not to even get a solid bullet on CV from that. I need to correct it.

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  2. Oh oops! I should have read this first. I admire your positive attitude. Mine was a very negative and anxious attitude… and you know what? All for nothing. I got some constructive criticism, sure, and some unhelpful criticism. But MOST of what I got was tremendous support and encouragement from other colleagues and a sort of good feeling when they said “wow! I didn’t know you did all that work!” and so that’s nice and I’m sure you’ll find that too! Also yes I understand. Now after that you sort of want to have these huge binders for every aspect of your life! Organize everything! Its really a writer’s desire to chronicle, isn’t it?

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  3. There’s no tenure in Europe, but I recently had to pull together a similar amount of material for my search for a new position – and to be honest, I was impressed with how much I managed to do in my 3 years of lectureship (so this was probably similar to your report). It was a great feeling. 🙂

    I agree with GMP that it is important to update your CV promptly and meticulously as things happen and not only now and then – that makes it much easier to do this kind of thing.

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