Professor of English Brock Clarke, Professor of Art History Pamela Fletcher, Professor of Anthropology and Arctic Museum Director Susan Kaplan, and Professor of Natural Sciences John Lichter were all recently promoted from associate professor to full professor.
According to the Bowdoin Faculty Handbook, the primary criterion for promotion is that the professor demonstrates “continuing excellence in teaching and in scholarly or artistic work” during the time since the professor received tenure.
In order to demonstrate "continuing excellence," each faculty member must submit their course materials, a personal statement, and the body of work that they have completed since becoming an associate professor. Recommendations are solicited from former students and external experts in the faculty member’s field.
All of those materials go before the department review committee, the Committee on Appointments, Promotion, and Tenure (CAPT), and Dean of Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd; each writes a recommendation, and then President Barry Mills ultimately makes the final decision.
Judd said that the four professors who were recently promoted are incredible educators and researchers.
“John Lichter is this fabulous continuum of someone whose research is respected, and that research comes to the classroom in a seamless way,” she said. “Pamela Fletcher is a highly respected art historian. She’s clearly someone who inspires students in her classes. Brock Clarke is the first tenured writer on the Bowdoin faculty. He arrived here, hit the ground running, and is someone about whom students are very excited. Susan Kaplan…has been a very important person in the field of arctic studies as well as museum studies, and is incredibly creative in the way she engages students both in class and in the museum."
Six years after receiving tenure and the title of associate professor, members of the faculty are eligible for promotion to a full professorship. However, unlike promotion to associate professor, the timing for the move is flexible; faculty members generally apply for the promotion anywhere from six to nine years after they are tenured.
“People talk to mentors in fields outside of the College and within the College—particularly Dean Judd—to decide if it's time, or to decide that there was something you wanted to get accomplished first,” Fletcher said.
The promotion to full professor does not lead to any significant changes in a professor’s role in the college; however, it is accompanied by a significant salary increase.
“It’s more of a recognition of where a career is and where it’s going,” said Judd, “And recognition of their continued development as a scholar-teacher.
“It’s nice to know that the College and my students and former students feel good about me being here,” Clarke said. “I feel like I’m in the right place, and it’s great that other people in the College feel the same thing.”
Fletcher said that she thinks Bowdoin’s process for promotion is fair and transparent.
“I think Bowdoin has a really admirable process,” Fletcher said. “It makes it the least amount of stress that it could be. I commend Bowdoin for the way in which that process is handled so ethically.”
Unlike Bowdoin, at some institutions, promotion to full professor is automatic after a faculty member has been at that college for a certain period of time.
“The great thing for me, is it brings this moment where we get to celebrate people, which is different from an automatic promotion,” said Judd. "The [use of] retrospective letters from students is something we do rather uniquely. It creates a real perspective on the impact faculty have on students. At the moments of tenure and promotion, you get a bird's eye view of the impact of faculty. ”
According to Judd, the Bowdoin faculty are an impressive group, and the recently promoted professors are people of whom the community can be proud.
“A lot of people are great researchers, and a lot of people are great in the classroom,” said Judd. “Very few are in the overlapping category impacting fields and impacting undergrads. Moving through not just tenure but full professors results in a small group of very special people.”