Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

Tenured and mostly a teacher? I think that is already happening, whether or not we admit it.

Posted 08 Jun 2015 / 0

The Chronicle of Higher EducationTime for a Teaching-Intensive Tenure Track

I remember that when I was nearing the completion of my dissertation and considering how to deal with the impossible job market, I looked up the C.V.’s of some of my favorite undergraduate professors back at Pomona College. I had no delusions of being able to land a job at a place like Pomona, but I wanted to know what kinds of accomplishments were required in order to teach at an institution that is mostly about teaching. The pattern was clear: publish a lot as a post-doc, get the position at an elite liberal arts school, publish another burst just before being awarded tenure, and then settle into a mostly-teaching-focused career. I am not saying that this a universal pattern — and increasingly there is pressure to ‘do it all’, especially at elite liberal arts institutions — but clearly most people who are on the tenure track at teaching institutions devote most of their time to being quality teachers.

Not surprisingly, my career has followed a similar trajectory. Did I have to do a bit of scholarship to get tenure? Sure. Was I mostly retained on the tenure track because of my teaching skills? Absolutely.

We already have a lot tenure-track positions that focus on teaching. It is time to admit this, and to expand the availability of these positions so as to re-professionalize our vocation.

A Minor Post, Higher Education

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