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Full Professors

22 Mar Posted by in Uncategorized | 2 comments
Full Professors

Every year at this time I hold a session at each of our main campuses to talk with interested faculty about criteria for promotion. It’s the point at which I’m wrapping up the provostial consideration of this year’s cases, so it’s a natural extension to talk about procedures more generally. Attendance at the sessions is usually good, as not only faculty in process but also various department chairs and others come in for the conversation.

My focus normally falls on promotion from assistant professor to associate professor, and of course on tenure. But, as needed, we cover renewals of tenure track and term faculty.

And we also discuss promotion from associate to full. This year, more interest than usual applied to this category. I try to explain that, as our Faculty Handbook stipulates, criteria here involve more of the same: more evidence of excellence in teaching and/or research, with measurable productivity since the prior promotion, and with surer evidence of some kind of national visibility and impact.

Some years ago I learned that Mason had a bit of a tradition of making the move from associate to full more complicated than (in my view) it should be, and we have encouraged associate faculty to think actively, when appropriate, of putting themselves up for consideration. I think the numbers suggest that the message is getting through, as our cases in the category have expanded.

But I learned this time around that certain myths still linger, at least in some of our larger academic units, particularly about whether there is a set period of time, after the prior promotion action, before this new level of evaluation can occur. The answer, resoundingly, is that there is not, though of course we need enough time to assess additional productivity. But it is of concern that impressions linger that the process at this level is more burdensome than it should be. There’s no automatic assurance, of course, and some cases do fail at least first time around. Nevertheless, I will be working with deans and others to make sure than needless baggage is not being adduced. It’s an interesting challenge, and I will continue to hope that faculty will be willing to voice concerns and seek clarification.