With the semester in full swing, students are hard at work—and so too are the group of professors currently up for tenure. On Monday, the candidates, whose names have not yet been released by the College, submitted the final piece of their written applications to their departments for review.
This past Monday marked the latest step in what Judd called "a very elaborate and lengthy and proscribed process." The tenure-review process, which lasts 11 months, began last March. In July, candidates submitted materials, which were sent to their outside reviewers at other liberal arts colleges and research universities, said Cristle Collins Judd, dean for academic affairs.
"The candidates were responsible for providing to their department and review committee all of their published work, the evidence of teaching, the personal statements," she added.
Judd declined to disclose the exact number of professors up for tenure this year. Last year, two professors received tenure: Professor Tess Chakkalakal in the Departments of Africana Studies and English and Professor Belinda Kong in the Departments of Asian Studies and English.
A professor currently applying for tenure—who asked to remain anonymous—feels that the process is fairly straightforward.
"There’s a very clear process of deadlines and I would say that it’s very positive that the college makes it very clear to us what exactly has to be done when and by who," the professor said.
Although professors are reviewed both in their first and third years of teaching, the tenure review process is much more rigorous than the reviews.
"The most interesting part of it for me that’s different from third-year review is the piece where we get evaluated by our peers at other institutions," said the professor. "Our scholarship gets sent out in the summer and people within our field evaluate our work as scholars. That’s something that isn’t done when we’re in third-year review."
After the departments are finished reviewing the information, Dean Judd and President Mills evaluate the candidates’ applications. The final decision is made by the board of trustees.
Judd emphasized that "excellence in teaching and distinction in research or creative production" are the most important qualities the College looks for in tenure applicants.
Judd also stressed that student input on each professor’s performance was an important part of the tenure procedure.
"The student voice is there in two very important ways. All of the student course opinion forms for at least the last ten semesters are gathered as part of the information, and then there is the retrospective sampling of students who had previously taken the courses," said Judd.
"It’s basically a question of our future, but we’ve chosen Bowdoin as a home and I think for most of us it’s a dream job," said the professor currently up for tenure.
Candidates now await the decisions of the review committees, announced in mid-October.