Research on Gender and Promotion

In this post, I would like to do a follow-up on my previous blog on promotion. The following largely draws on various reports I have shared in different venues. Moreover, I had assistance from fellow sociologists and the KU-APSCUF Social Justice Committee in drafting various parts of those reports. As a social scientist, I believe that we should continuously gather and review this sort of data while addressing problems such as sexism within our institutions. I welcome any comments or criticism of the following information and analysis.

Continue reading “Research on Gender and Promotion”

The Tragedy of the Commons

Previously, I blogged about efficiency in our system having a potentially racist dimension (see: Tenner, 2018). One of the consequences of the efficiency push is that libraries are under threat. There is a chance one or more campuses could not have a library and/or any librarians due to cuts. There are going to be some real serious academic and social consequences to this. In sociologist Eric Klinenberg’s Palaces for the People (2018), libraries are examples of social infrastructure – the physical places and entities that have a direct impact on how people. As Klinenberg points out: “Social infrastructures that promote efficiency tend to discourage interaction and the formation of strong ties.” (p. 18). One of the things administrators fail to understand is that libraries do many things. They are community centers, meeting spaces, places to study, and more. They provide jobs for student workers (which I had as an undergrad). They can even house coffee shops, where people get together. Libraries can be safe spaces for homeless students. This is in addition to their being hubs of academic activity for faculty, students, and the wider community.

Our administrators argue that “library services” will still exist. Yet, they have no plan of what that might mean. We cannot disconnect those “services” from the social and physical dimensions of university libraries. That includes the integral nature of librarians in providing those services. Take, for instance, the transition of libraries into “information commons” in recent years. Key here is the idea that they are “commons.” Again, they are places where students can work together, with librarians, or faculty for a variety of different projects.

In sum, the destruction of libraries in PASSHE would be a true “tragedy of the commons.”

Criticizing Student-to-Faculty Ratios

There are a lot of metrics or methods of measuring what we do in higher education. An important one for us professors is faculty full-time equivalent (FTE), which is a percentage calculation of a single faculty member’s teaching. In other words, an FTE of 1.0 represents a full-time professor. Two people hired half-time would also be 1.0. At my institution and system, it is primarily based on teaching load. In my case, teaching my full 4/4 load is represented as 1.0 in a spreadsheet. In that spreadsheet, there is also a tally of all faculty to get an overall number of faculty FTE, which is 428.61 for Fall 2019. This is also done for students and staff as well as using other formulas for measuring the notion of full-time.

Continue reading “Criticizing Student-to-Faculty Ratios”

Overworked (the pandemic version)

Previously, I’ve written about my workload. As I begin to prepare for Fall 2020, I’ve been thinking about how I can design classes that will avoid the COVID chaos of Spring 2020.

Like everyone else, my time commitment to my classes increased dramatically once we went online due to the COVID-19 closures and quarantine in the spring. In addition to all the work needed to convert my face-to-face classes online, there were other issues. Rather than have a relatively set schedule for work, we moved into a 24/7 environment that has broken apart our already porous academic work and non-academic lives.

Continue reading “Overworked (the pandemic version)”

Persistence in Academic Publishing

As we close out 2019, I’ve been reflecting a lot on the fact that it’s been ten years since I earned my Ph.D. Things are good for me. I’m lucky and privileged to be a full professor with tenure. This journey, however, wasn’t easy. Academia is like a series of races, where you’re often crawling past a finish line dehydrated and glad it’s over. Take for instance publishing. I just had an article come out that took five years to get published. I also had another recent article that took six years. This means rejection after rejection, a lot of negative feedback from reviewers, as well as the purgatory of several revise and resubmits. Sure, I have a writing strategy. However, there’s no way to really anticipate or plan for the inevitable heartbreak of being rejected after a third round of R&Rs. My point in bringing this up is to emphasize that writing, especially academic writing, is difficult. It’s hard practically, intellectually, as well as emotionally.

So here are some thoughts:

  1. As people have started doing on Twitter, we should normalize rejection. There are two parts to his. The first is we need to demystify the process of academic writing and publishing. This means openly talking about the journey from the data, the field, or wherever, to the article or book. The second part is honestly talking about the stumbles, so we have a culture that reinforces the idea that rejection is not the same as failure.
  2. Another part of this involves understanding that there are different audiences out there for different work. Unfortunately, this might mean that you end up with a reviewer (or editor) who simply disagrees with your approach. So, the rejection isn’t about you or your work. Real story: I once had minor R&R. However, when I resubmitted it, it went to an incoming editor who disagreed with my approach and desk-rejected it.
  3. Yet, that doesn’t mean that your work is perfect. Really, no one’s work is perfect. This means one has to understand the difference between constructive criticism, and someone being a jerk. For a great discussion of this, check out his episode of the SocAnnex podcast on “Academic Hazing.”

Wrapping this post up (and closing out the decade), it will be interesting to see how academic work changes in the next ten years.

Some data on promotion at my university

In this blog post, I would like to provide some data for my colleagues on promotion at our university. I have heard many different comments in regards to research and publications. However, there appears to be very little data, or evidence beyond anecdotes describing what’s going on systematically. So, I’ve sat down and put this estimate together. The following chart of search “results” for publications was created using our Daily Brief newsletter announcements, and doing searches on Google Scholar.

Continue reading “Some data on promotion at my university”