Initial Publication Date: July 13, 2010

Making The Case for Tenure

A pre-GSA Workshop for Early Career Geoscience Faculty

Saturday, October 4, 2008, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
George R. Bush Convention Center, Room 350A

Join us for a one-day workshop focused on selected topics related to building a case for tenure and preparing a tenure package. Participants should be in a tenure track (or equivalent) position in a two-year or four-year college or university at the time of the workshop. Lunch will be provided. Participation will be limited to the first 35 applicants; register via the GSA annual meeting website. Note: this workshop has already taken place. See the links in the program below for related resources.

Workshop goals for participants:

  • Analyze components of successful tenure packages from a range of institutions to identify features and strategies useful in making the case for tenure
  • Review teaching materials (e.g., syllabus, classroom activity, lab exercise, assignments, etc.) and consider the evidence they provide about teaching quality in a tenure application
  • Review c.v.'s in the context of a tenure application
  • Discuss topics of high interest to registered workshop participants
  • Leave with ideas, strategies, and a plan for building your tenure case and a support network of other early career faculty
After registering through GSA, participants will be asked to submit the following by September 30:
  • A document from your teaching that you would consider including as evidence of excellence in teaching in your future tenure package. This might be a syllabus, an original lab or field exercise, an exam, a classroom activity, or other document of your choosing.
  • Three questions or issues of highest concern to you about tenure and/or your progress towards tenure.
  • A copy of your CV. This submission is optional. There will be a session during the workshop in which CVs are analyzed. If you submit your CV you will have the option of getting direct feedback on your CV from the leaders and other participants who also brought their CV.


9:00-9:45 Workshop overview, introductions, leader perspectives on tenure, what do reviewers look for when examining a tenure file?

9:45-10:45 What does your CV say about you?
A CV is a window to your career accomplishments and essential to the tenure package. CVs will be analyzed to determine what message they convey based on their content and organization. Reflection time at end.

10:45-11:00 Break

11:00-12:00 What do your teaching materials say about you?
Examine teaching materials (e.g., syllabus, assignment, lab exercise) submitted by participants with the eye of a reviewer. Then consider whether the document conveys an accurate portrait of you as a teacher. Is this the teacher you want to be? Discussion on effective teaching and its documentation for tenure packages. Reflection time at end.

12:00-1:00 Lunch

1:00-2:30 The narrative: How to argue your strongest case
In this session, participants will examine tenure narratives and other excerpts from tenure packages from a range of academic institutions. Participants will analyze these examples to identify features of successful tenure packages, ways tenure applicants made persuasive arguments for excellence in teaching and excellence in research/scholarly activity, how service contributions were addressed. If there were weaknesses, how were they addressed? Reflection time at end.

2:30-3:30 Where are you and where do you need to be?

3:30-3:45 Break

3:45-4:45 Where are you and where do you need to be? Consider your particular issues and concerns. Discussion and reflection on where you are in the tenure process in your teaching, scholarship, service and the timeframe you have from now until tenure application. What do you need to do?

3:45-4:45 Setting a plan for getting things done Introduction of several example strategies to help you position yourself to make your strongest case for tenure. These include general guidelines for tenure preparation and pre-tenure career planning and progress charts. Use these examples to draft your own plan to move towards your strongest tenure application.

4:45-5:00 Closing remarks, Evaluation


The cost of this workshop (including lunch) is $50.


Kristen St. John, Department of Geology and Environmental Science, James Madison University
Mark Leckie, Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Heather Macdonald, Department of Geology, College of William & Mary

This workshop is part of the professional development program On the Cutting Edge, sponsored by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers with funding provided by a grant from the National Science Foundation Division of Undergraduate Education .