In 2008, UAlbany developed a “Tenure Trek” program, aimed at demystifying the tenure process and providing junior faculty with opportunities for collegial discussion with peers, information to help them better understand UAlbany, and strategies for achieving success in teaching, research and service. Events include panel discussions with senior faculty, structured workshops and informal discussions. All pre-tenure academic faculty members are invited to share their own experiences, and to gather insights from others on negotiating the early years of a career at UAlbany. Topics are decided through surveys and questionnaires of pre-tenure faculty, and have included such things as Grant Writing; Mentoring and Advising Graduate Students, Writing Research, Teaching and Service statements for Tenure; Being a Public Scholar; Taking Charge of Evaluating your Teaching; How to Publish a Book; Getting the Mentoring you Need; Saying Yes, Saying No (i.e. choosing service strategically); Work/Life Balance; Time Management; What it’s like to be an Associate Professor, and others.
Based on feedback from junior faculty’s evaluation of Tenure Trek, the program is highly regarded. Junior faculty also provide very positive feedback in the form of spontaneous emails and notes of thanks for taking notice of their specific needs. Many remark that their peers at other institutions are envious of the kind of support this program provides to pre-tenure faculty. As a result of the Tenure Trek program, participants report that they feel the institution cares about their success.
The Tenure Trek series was initiated by the Provost’s Office for Faculty Development in response to UAlbany’s initial COACHE survey in 2005. The report was on the Provost’s desk, essentially untouched and un-addressed, at the time the interim Provost began in 2008. The provost hired a full time Director of Faculty Development to help address the issues of the initial COACHE Survey, which included low scores on tenure expectations, tenure clarity, tenure processes and policies. By the time of UAlbany’s second COACHE survey, the scores on tenure clarity, expectations, processes and policies had improved.
Success Breeds More Interest Among Associate Faculty
Now that the series is 5 years old, those who have since become associate professors are pushing for a similar series for associate professors as they plan to go up for promotion! These professors often remark that ‘we do so much for junior faculty’ but when they become associate professors the support seems to stop. The success of Tenure Trek seems to have heightened expectations for support of faculty at every level. As a result, plans are in the making for better support of Associate Professors as they envision their future career trajectory.