Nadia Celis of the romance languages department, Danielle Dube of the chemistry and biochemistry departments, Brian Purnell of the Africana studies and history departments, Vyjayanthi Ratnam Selinger of the Asian studies department and Robert Sobak of the classics department will officially be tenured faculty on July 1, after the Board of Trustees voted to promote them to the rank of associate professor with tenure in their annual February meeting last weekend.
Cristle Collins Judd, dean of academic affairs, noted that there was no one who did not receive tenure who was in consideration this year to receive it.
Professors on the tenure track typically stand for tenure in their sixth year, or in their seventh if they have taken a year’s leave from the College, according to Judd. However, if professors arrive having already been on the tenure track at another institution—like Brian Purnell, who was an assistant professor at Fordham University for four years before he came to Bowdoin—they may stand earlier.
Professors who receive tenure must display, according to the handbook, “Excellence in teaching and distinction in research.”
Each professor has excelled and distinguished him or herself in diverse ways. Celis organized a trip to Colombia with her Gabriel Garcia Marquez class; Dube has introduced students to innovative lab work; Purnell is the author of a prize-winning book on the civil rights movement; Selinger organized an exhibit of Japanese prints at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. Sobak is the recipient of the Karofsky Prize—the only prize offered at Bowdoin to junior faculty.
Each of the five professors appointed this year has had his or her work published either in books or, in Dube’s case, scientific forums.
In an email to the Orient, Purnell said that he found the expectations for tenure at Bowdoin very clear.
“Bowdoin has several steps along the way, like a first-year evaluation letter, the course evaluation forms, and the third-year review process, when professors on track for tenure receive substantive feedback on the quality of their teaching, on their scholarly productivity, and on the level of their service to the college,” he wrote. “The process helped me become a better teacher and historian, and for that I am very grateful.”
“For me, the evaluation process in particular elicited a lot of reflection in order to understand my role as a part of the Bowdoin community,” said Celis. “Being a international professor, over time I’ve gone through significant adaptation and this was a wonderful opportunity to revise ‘my place’ in the larger picture—ground myself in Maine, the US, the world.”
For Dube, the tenure process was, “both a retrospective process looking at what I’ve done in the time I have been at Bowdoin and forward looking at where I hope to go.”
When she thinks about the process, Selinger commented that she thinks about her “maturation as a scholar and teacher.” She noted that with every year, she becomes more aware of the research that she wants to do, the kind of questions she wants to ask and the ways she wants to teach. Especially since tenure often coincides with the publication of books, she noted that she felt like the process “intertwined with the journey of [her] book and how much [she] grew during process of writing a book.”
Sobak could not be reached by the time of publication.
“Faculty are at the heart of what Bowdoin is and once someone is tenured they have the institution’s promise in a long career here,” said Judd. “Hopefully for students, it is real confidence in the kind of faculty Bowdoin has built and is building for the future.”