Academics is not merely about reading, teaching, and writing–it’s also about brand building. Want to get your new book idea distributed by a top-flight publishing house? Want to be asked to participate in the invitation-only conference? How about writing a major article for a prominent dictionary or encyclopedia? Ever dream of editing a journal? Want to recieve an endowed chair? You get the picture. In order to do anything of these things you need to be bright, dependable, and have good ideas. You also need to be a one-person brand.A different, but effective way to think about academic careers - particularly recommended to recent PhDs and scholars with an early onset mid-life crisis ;-)
One of the difficulties is that in some institutions, those involved with appointments, promotions and tenure, have not yet realized how rapidly the scene has changed in the last decade or so, and just how valuable it can be to have academics who invest a lot of time and energy in new media.Which is sadly both true and widespread. The Maine document he cites is more focused on creation of new media like websites, however an MLA report (discussed earlier this year in an Inside Higher Ed article "A Tenure Reform Plan With Legs") may well have more impact on us poor biblical scholars!
In 1998, a group of provosts of research universities circulated a document calling for bold reforms of the tenure process. Traditional publishing was becoming an economic sinkhole, they argued. Junior professors couldn’t get published. University presses and journal publishers were losing too much money. Libraries couldn’t afford to buy the new scholarship that was published. Somehow, they argued, the system needed to change — with less emphasis on traditional publishing and more creativity about how to evaluate professors up for promotion.How similar things are in 2006! The cloud (though no bigger than a man's hand) on the horizon is "a proposal being drafted by the Modern Language Association to fundamentally change how English and foreign language professors are reviewed for tenure."
Inside Higher Ed reveals that:
A special panel of the MLA is finishing a report that will call for numerous, far-reaching changes in the way assistant professors are reviewed for tenure.
Comments by Charles Phelps, provost of the University of Rochester, are of particular interest for Biblical Scholars:
Among the ideas that will be part of the plan are:
The creation of “multiple pathways” to demonstrating research excellence. The monograph is one way, but so would be journal articles, electronic projects, textbooks, jointly written books, and other approaches.
The drafting of “memorandums of understanding” between new hires and departments so that those new hires would have a clear sense of expectations in terms of how they would be evaluated for tenure.
A commitment to treating electronic work with the same respect accorded to work published in print.
The setting of limits on the number of outside reviews sought in tenure cases and on what those reviewers could be asked.
What the association is doing is “right on target,” he said, and from discussions with fellow provosts, he predicted that English departments would receive similar receptions in other administration buildings.So, perhaps at the next CARG we should be lobbying for SBL to start a similar process?
“The thing that is first and foremost to me is that these changes will happen when they come from the learned society in the relevant discipline — and the field buys into the idea of changing things,” Phelps said.
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