Had an interesting conversation earlier this week regarding where the bar for tenure should be set for those young ‘uns like me who are starting out on the tenure track at a time when costs are rising and paylines are plummeting. (For the record, the conversation was with a full Professor who brought up the topic and who is adamant that the bar needs to be lowered when the current crop of junior faculty go up for tenure.)
As with a lot of TT peeps doing basic science research at R1 schools, a large part of my being granted tenure will be determined by my ability to secure significant extramural funding ... even though I’m in a very small, non-research-intensive program and none of my tenured colleagues received substantial funding at any point in their careers. The expectation is essentially that I will need an R01 and publications but a very senior and experienced colleague seemed confident that in the current economic climate one or two smaller awards (not necessarily continuing) would probably be sufficient by the time I apply for tenure. I still have a few more years before crunch time but my mind is always mulling over how I’m going to make things work with dwindling funds and paylines. I like to be prepared.
The topics that were touched on during the discussion included whether the bar should be set a tad lower for my peers and I than it was for recently-tenured or soon-to-be tenured colleagues. And the very real prospect of myself and most of my newbie peers being denied tenure due to frighteningly low paylines and essentially wiping out a whole generation of promising faculty members.
I know there are going to be some Prof Greybeards and Bluehairs out there who still insist that things were harder back in the day when they had to prepare manuscripts on slates and walk 20 miles to work in 10 foot high snowdrifts with no shoes. But where was the bar set at that point? And where was it 10 years ago? Five years ago? Where should it be now relative to those? Is it fair to judge success based on a goal that gets more and more difficult to reach as the economy slides into oblivion? Is it fair to ask for leniency when predecessors may not have had that opportunity? Are these questions merely the whining of a newbie PI who is wringing her hands in despair after the week from hell?
Writing, Thinking and Reflecting
11 hours ago