Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Tying Up Loose Ends

I'm sorry I've been out of touch after what for us was a very scary time.

Conor's fever broke Thursday night. We thought we were in the clear on Thursday morning, but after his nap, he woke up with 101.4F. I know we weren't really close to something being seriously wrong because that would have involved hospital tests, white knuckles, and more tears. However, that was a very scary little illness he had and I am glad to have it behind us.

It was made more tense for me because I turned in my tenure package this week. For the 99.9% of you reading this who are not in academia, tenure is the decision point at which the university decides whether I've done enough work to keep my job basically forever, as long as I don't sleep with a student and I do keep my office hours. (Only a slight exaggeration) And since we've become a research focused university, if one stops doing research, that's grounds for termination, too.

The tenure package involves my vita (or resume as it's called by "real" people), my personal statements on my research and teaching (why it's good, etc), copies of my published papers, anonymous external reviews written by bigwigs in my area from around the country, and reviews by my students/colleagues about me as a teacher. This is a very stressful time, as one can imagine, and faculty do not always get tenure. Since our university is trying to move from a teaching to research university, there are even more expectations that we faculty members can show that can hang with the big boys.

It's an odd experience spending two or three weeks writing about why one is such a stellar researcher and teacher. At one point I felt like with my teaching statement I should just say "I do everything, all the time!" just so I could make sure I covered all the bases about why my teaching is brilliant, yet accessible. Challenging, yet supportive. Cool, yet warm. Red, yet blue.

It all boils down to research though. And at 22 publications, I feel like that should be enough. Yes, 4 of those publications are not peer reviewed, but the remaining 18 are. In addition, 17 have been done since I've been here and I am first or sole author on 16 of those publications. I am more than sure that every single person reading this is going, "Ummmm. Ok? That's good? That's relevant to the main topic of this blog because......?"

Quick answers: I think it is (12 peer reviewed publications would be adequate), and no, this is not even a sub-topic of this blog.

However, it is what I keep repeating to myself about my selfworth as I turn this package in. I know that "22" is not my selfworth. Although, as we all know, 42 is the answer to life, the universe and everything. Nonetheless, I am not more stressed than normal about this process. (All tenure track faculty are stressed at some level about this process) I'm hoping I can share with you good news about the first round of decisions that should be arriving mid-October.

Until then, I really want to catch up on my work and maybe even get ahead.


Rhye said...

I'm so glad that Conor's fever broke and is feeling much better.

I will be sending you positive vibes for your tenure! Good Luck Anita!!

Anonymous said...

Aside: have you read the article in the New York Times, the health section re: Dr. B's (too lazy to run to the bedroom right now to get the photocopy) research on female hormonal levels, chronic stress, exercise effects and ovulation?


Rachel said...

I am so glad Conor is doing better.

I remember when my MIL applied for tenure, it was stressful for everyone. It sounds like you have done your part so try to relax while the committee makes their decision and good luck!

Cary said...

As a statistician at a rather large university who assists faculty with their research for publication (in and around assisting with theses and dissertations) I shall keep my fingers crossed for you over these next few weeks.

As a parent of a (almost) 4 year old, I am very glad to hear that Conor is feeling better. Nothing is worse than seeing your child sick or hurting.