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.