I am a bad ass and The Candidate is not.
I briefly popped over to campus this week to help put an end to someone’s career in academia.
One of my colleagues has come up for tenure, and because I am now Senior Faculty, I had to serve on the committee. Although The Candidate’s case was clearly a BIG FAT NO, it was still sickening when I had to vote. I kept my mouth shut while more experienced folks had their say, and then reported that I had nothing to add, and then we voted. On little pieces of paper. And it was unanimous, and I was like OH SHIT THAT HAPPENED.
I hope that things go smoothly from this point on, and that somehow things magically work out for The Candidate, and that The Candidate is not surprised, though it seems like The Candidate always is, despite the fact that This Particular Candidate has been TOLD that this was very likely…but in addition to all these things, the experience gave me some insight into why it is that I DO have tenure.
Members of the committee kept bringing up the fact that The Candidate had so much promise and was so bright, and finally the one I respect most said, Every hire at Mediocre Institution is very bright, and has great potential! All of them have to get through an incredibly tough and competitive process in order to be hired. Despite my humorous remarks about my obvious brilliance, I have never been able to think of myself as particularly smart, so hearing this made me take a beat and think, Hey! That applies to ME! And seeing the process from inside the room also highlighted the fact that getting tenure is, when all is working as it should, a simple matter. Not easy, mind you, but simple. I did what was required, and that’s all it is. I actually looked at my CV while other people were nattering on, and saw it through the lens of my committee. Instead of seeing the fact that all my publications were not as great as they could have been, and remembering how THAT one had been submitted to a better journal initially, and the mean things Reviewer 1 had written about THAT one, etc., etc., I just saw what the committee presumably saw: an appropriate quantity of scholarly output.
While I doubt that the committee that met to decide MY fate spent the time talking solely about how great I am, I think I might finally be convinced that they weren’t just taking pity on me, or accepting the low standards of Mediocre Institution. It’s much more like Can we check this box? Yes we can!
I will be sure to dispense this wisdom to my junior colleagues.