Seven Lawrence faculty members awarded tenure

Fanny Lau

(Photos by Emma Moss)

The Committee on Tenure, Promotion, Reappointment and Equal Employment recently awarded seven Lawrence University professors tenure.

The newly-tenured professors are current Assistant Professor of Art History Elizabeth Carlson, Assistant Professor of History Jake Frederick, Assistant Professor of Music Wen-Lei Gu, Assistant Professor of English David McGlynn, Assistant Professor of Art Ben Rinehart, Assistant Professor of Government Arnold Shober and Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Martyn Smith.

The Committee on Tenure, Promotion, Reappointment and Equal Employment is made up of Associate Professor of Psychology Matthew Ansfield, Frank C. Shattuck Professor of Music and Teacher of Voice Kenneth Bozeman, Associate Professor of Biology Nancy Wall, Professor of Religious Studies Karen Carr, Associate Professor of Anthropology Mark Jenike, Associate Professor of Statistics Joy Jordan, Associate Professor of Music Andrew Mast, Associate Professor of Classics Randall McNeill, Professor of Physics Matthew Stoneking, Associate Professor of Spanish Rosa Tapia and the Provost and Dean of the Faculty ex officio. This committee works on tenure review, full professorship and reappointments during the Fall, Winter and Spring Terms, respectively.

An unusually high number of professors went up for tenure this year. Usually, only two to three professors are awarded tenure each academic year. However, Jenike assured that “there just randomly happened to be a lot of people up for tenure this year. There is no deeper meaning.” In fact, there were so many faculty members up for tenure this year that the committee had to split into two separate bodies to deal with the arduous process of reviewing each candidate for tenure.

When a faculty member is appointed a tenure-track position, they receive a four-year appointment. At the end of their third year, they are reevaluated for reappointment based on the quality of their teaching, scholarship, creativity and service to the university. If the candidate meets the criteria, he or she makes a recommendation for the professor’s reappointment to the Provost and Dean of the Faculty David Burrows and President Jill Beck and the professor is then given an additional three-year appointment.

At the end of his or her first year of the three-year reappointment, the committee on Tenure, Promotion, Reappointment and Equal Employment begins its tenure review and writes an extensive report to the president on why a candidate should be offered tenure.

The tenure review is based on the same criteria used to evaluate professors for reappointment; however, this particular evaluation is not restricted to the opinions of the committee members.

First, a candidate is asked to do a self-evaluation of their teaching at Lawrence. Second, the committee looks at fellow faculty members’ reviews of the candidate. Third, a dossier is sent to faculty members in the same discipline at other universities to evaluate. The committee is careful to send the dossier to professors at a variety of institutions; they are sent to at least one university similar to Lawrence in size and repute, and at least one large research university to be evaluated.

Provost and Dean of the Faculty David Burrows commented on this methodology: “It is important for us to get feedback from similar universities where the undergraduates are the focus of attention, but schools like University of Wisconsin-Madison have valuable feedback, as well.”

Fourth, the committee heavily relies on student surveys from past and current students. “These surveys are important because the more feedback we get, the better. This is not the end-of-term survey,” stressed Burrows.

After evaluating the candidates, the committee submits extensive reports to President Jill Beck, who then meets with the committee for a final meeting. Finally, with the Board of Trustees’ approval, the candidates are awarded tenure.