Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Professional Issues: Can I haz tenure, please?
In addition to these texts we’ve read this week, I’ve run across other scholarship about administration (for both writing centers and writing programs) discussing the issue of administrative work and how to couch that admin work as scholarly (in terms of P&T). In K. B. Yancey and M. Morgan’s “Reflective Essays, Curriculum, and the Scholarship of Administration: Notes Toward Administrative Scholarly Work”, I saw an excellent example of how an administrator can situate their admin work as evidence of scholarly work. Their chapter argues that because scholarship is the production of new knowledge, inquiry about curricular design that leads to curricular redesign can be considered new knowledge, hence a kind of scholarship.
Similarly, J. Gunner discusses “Professional Advancement of the WPA: Rhetoric and Politics in Tenure and Promotion,” and she highlights, too, the difficulty WPAs face during P&T when they have to present evidence of teaching and research. In distinguishing between Yancey and Morgan’s and Gunner’s pieces, Gunner presents concrete, specific advice for pre-junior faculty while Yancey and Morgan justify theoretically why admin work is scholarly. While I thought Yancey and Morgan’s thorough example of their curricular redesign was concrete and I could see how they would be able to represent their work as scholarly, I appreciated more so Gunner’s advice that the “tenure process really begins at the point of hire” (p. 317), as well as her numbered list of ten actions to take as a new WPA. I can imagine that new PhDs applying for jobs are grateful that anyone even hired them and that salary numbers are exponentially higher than GA stipends, thus making it awkward or difficult to negotiate or sort out the details such as P&T expectations.
Along those same lines of concrete and specific advice, the CWPA’s statement on evaluating the work of writing program administration is useful for WPAs in terms of providing a framework for representing their work. I thought, however, that the document could have been clearer in distinguishing among their points: 1) the work of a WPA, 2) the guidelines for knowing that the work is intellectual, and 3) the criteria for evaluating that work. Sometimes the authors’ discussion of these things overlapped to the point of confusion.
One point/question I have for you all is this:
In my research about writing center assessment, I have read and heard from WCPs about the challenge of making their assessment work public (among many other challenges). I found Yancey and Morgan’s chapter as an excellent example of assessment: their primary goal was to improve the first-year composition curriculum, and as Huot argues, assessment’s primary concern is improving teaching and learning. So, how does assessment translate into scholarly/intellectual work?
Additionally, what do you think about the process of tenure and promotion? Is it outdated and irrelevant? What are other options? What about the issue of digital publications and tenure?