Open Access Tenure: Shedding Some Light at Harvard

Last week The Harvard Crimson had a detailed article talking about the tenure process at Harvard. I see some overall differences between my university and Harvard; I’ll note a couple that jumped out at me:

  • Junior faculty take leave.  That surprised me, as far as I know we can’t take sabbatical until we’re tenured. 
  • Striving to hire in the best rather than growing good people–this is a different emphasis than is at my library. I can’t speak for all of the colleges at my university.
  • Associate is not tenured; I don’t become an Associate Professor until I get tenure. Going for Full Professor is something different at my place of work.
  • 7-8 years; Ours is shorter–I go up in my 6th year assuming I pass 3 and 5 year internal review.
  • Secret committee evaluation: I’m not sure who all sits on our campus P&T committee but I know who is on it from the library and I’m sure I could find out who the other people are.
  • President’s decision? I think here it would be the Provost; I’m not clear whether he can override the campus P&T committee–I know the University Board of Directors, who have final say, certainly could.
  • Separation of teaching faculty vs. research faculty. This is growing more pronounced, I think, at many universities, with teaching falling more to adjuncts.  It sounds like they have a FT tenure-external plan which I don’t think my university has for most of the colleges.

It’s an insightful read and gives a very different view of recruiting and retention than what I’m facing here.  The attitude of a university towards who gets tenure and how they build their faculty is certainly informative if you’re looking at a position at a certain university.