As I’ve noted before, as a tenure-track professor it can be very difficult to maintain a publication record that is higher than necessary for your institution. Whatever your own goals, the expectations of your institution are probably adjusted to account for teaching and service loads but the norms of your colleagues can also affect your productivity. Years ago, I noted that in the current academic climate of budget cuts publications are not only necessary for tenure and promotion but are also necessary to allow you to get another job if something happens to your current one. Of course, publishing more than you need to is easier said than done.
With the recent news of Sweet Briar College’s closing, a lot of faculty members are finding themselves in this position. As noted in The Atlantic:
Mid-career faculty at the school, including many revered professors who’ve devoted their lives to education, will likely have a tough time finding similar positions at other college institutions. As many higher-education experts will attest (and as I have witnessed in my own experience), these institutions typically prefer to hire junior faculty who have well-adorned resumes and are fresh out of prestigious graduate schools but are less expensive and willing to commit to a job for decades. With what are often hundreds of applicants for every opening, schools can be picky.
One faculty member was close to tenure and feeling confident. Now she is faced with starting over (as are the college’s staff members). Good luck to the faculty and staff of Sweet Briar College and to everybody else who will find themselves in similar situations in the coming months and years.
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