Becoming a Tenured Professor

Getting tenure is a major concern for most new faculty in tenure-track jobs. The tenure process need not be mysterious and the resources below are meant to shed light on tips and considerations to guide you through the tenure process.

Jump down to additional resources on: Finding your Fit | What to Expect | Strategies for Success

Workshop and Conference Presentations

Becoming a Professor (PowerPoint 89kB Jul30 12) - This presentation was given by Gilda Barabino (Georgia Institute of Technology) at the 2009 Minority Faculty Development workshop. It offers a short introduction to preparing for a career in academia.

A Department Head's Perspective on Minority Faculty Advancement (PowerPoint 292kB Mar19 12) - This presentation was given by Wes Harris (MIT) at the 2006 Minority Faculty Development workshop. It provides a short overview of topics including recruitment processes, hiring, retention processes, and measures of success.

Promotion and Tenure Considerations in Engineering (PowerPoint 97kB Mar19 12) - This presentation was given by Nino Masnari (North Carolina State) at the 2006 Minority Faculty Development workshop. It provides information on teaching assessment, research (types of opportunities and assesment), service and outreach, setting and prioritizing goals and objectives, and the tenure process, with NC State as an example.

Nuts and Bolts of Tenure (PowerPoint 90kB Mar19 12) - This presentation was given by Gregory Washington (The Ohio State University) at the 2006 Minority Faculty Development workshop. It covers topics such as what is expected in building a research program and with teaching, with helpful considerations and tips for meeting these expectations.

Navigating the Academic Tenure Process in Ideal and Non-Ideal Environments (PowerPoint 274kB Mar19 12) - This presentation was given by Rhonda Drayton (University of Minnesota) at the 2006 Minority Faculty Development workshop. It provides information that clarifies what tenure is and how it is obtained, the tenure proposal (the different components involved in obtaining tenure), Drayton's example schedule for obtaining tenure, and a discussion of tools that may be helpful in building your case for tenure.

Professional Development for Junior Faculty (PowerPoint 46kB Jul30 12) - This presentation was given by Kenneth Roberts (North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University) at the 2006 Minority Faculty Development workshop. It offers general professional development tips, typical faculty work assignments and expectations, tips for writing and marketing proposals, and tips for working with students and on collaborations.

Becoming a Tenured Professor (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 87kB Jul30 12) - This presentation was given by Chekesha Liddell (Cornell University) at the 2010 Minority Faculty Development workshop. It offers advice on how to succeed at attaining tenure using personal experience as a basis.

Crafting Your Professional Brand (Acrobat (PDF) 334kB Jul30 12) - This presentation was given by Robbin Chapman (MIT) at the 2010 Minority Faculty Development workshop. It describes how you can bring your unique passions, attributes, and strengths to your career in order to establish your identity as well as strengthen your presence in your institution and field. The Crafting Your Professional Brand: Worksheet (Acrobat (PDF) 73kB Jul30 12) can be used to guide you in creating your personal 'professional brand.'

Creating Your Own Innovation Micro Ecosystem (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 1.2MB Jul30 12) - This presentation was given by Pamela McCauley Bush (University of Central Florida & Bush Enterprises) at the 2012 Minority Faculty Development workshop. It outlines how those interested in innovation and entrepreneurship can integrate those interests and activities into their career in academia.

Finding your Fit

  • Tenured Twice, by Amy Jones. One woman's story of recognizing that her first department/institution was not a good fit -- just as she received tenure there -- and her decision to pursue a position somewhere that would be a better fit.
  • Road Signs to Tenure, by Miguel Mantero. Compiled advice from six tenured professors. Also, Were the Road Signs Wrong? Miguel's retrospective article as he comes up for tenure, written two years after the previous article, analyzes and responds to the earlier advice.

The Tenure Process: What to Expect

  • Tenure Reconsidered (a Bit), from Tomorow's Professor, looks at the varying degrees of progress made in counting the scholarship of teaching and learning in research contribution considerations.
  • Life on the Tenure Track: Lessons from the First Year , by James Lang. In this book, the author chronicles his experiences, reactions, thoughts and feelings during his first year in a tenure-track position at Assumption College in central Massachusetts. He recounts struggling to make the best use of his unstructured time, trying to understand the expectations of the college administration, experimenting with new teaching methods in an attempt to reach the students in his classroom - all while finding time for his family. Devoting one chapter for each month of the academic year, the author studies what it will take to get tenure, and whether that is what he wants. Read an excerpt, published on Rick Reis' Tomorrow's Professor Mailing List.
  • Mentor in a Manual: Climbing the Academic Ladder to Tenure, by Clay Schoenfeld and Robert Magnan. Using a representative institution and a prototype assistant professor, this book provides counsel for those on the tenure track.

Setting Yourself Up For Success: Strategies for Getting Tenure

General Strategies and Advice

Interactions with Others

  • It's The Little Things That Make The Big Difference reminds the reader about how the seemingly little things you do in your interactions with people can make a big difference down the road.
  • Collegiality: the tenure track's Pandora's Box offers simple tips that can help you to develop collegial relationships with your colleagues -- an important, and perhaps underappreciated, aspect of getting tenure. After all, in deciding on your tenure case, your colleagues are voting on whether they want you around for the foreseeable future.

Overcoming Challenges

  • Stop Trying to Get Tenure and Start Trying to Enjoy Yourself offers a new approach to thinking about your tenure journey.
  • How do you handle rejection? On the road to tenure, doing research is usually not enough -- you must also publish your results. But the road to publication is often paved with rejection letters. How you deal with rejection affects your productivity; this article provides advice for dealing with rejection constructively.