A blog about life, language, writing, and other trivia.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

On Not Being Freaked Out

[Note: I'm treating this entry as one for the historical record. I'll come back to it after my two-year review and see whether I'm still feeling as sanguine about life in academia.]

Many of you know that my wife, Lee, and I have just begun new jobs in the English Department / Ph.D. Program in Rhetoric and Writing at BGSU in Ohio. So, not even three weeks into the semester, we're still under a constant barrage of new information, from where to go for good Indian food to what committee(s) we'll serve on to the name of that person in the hall I keep smiling at awkwardly without introducing myself. (James Bond I'm not.) But this one was a particularly big week: it was the week we reviewed tenure requirements with the department chair, including finally perusing the documents that outline the standards to which we will no doubt be steadfastly held.

Both Lee and I knew the broad strokes of what we needed to do to get tenure at BGSU before we took the jobs. But now that we're here, actually in the tenure pipeline, it's as if the potential energy of just knowing what we'd need to do for tenure were suddenly, jarringly converted to the kinetic energy of realizing that--holy shit--we're going to have to get our asses in gear.

The thing is, though, I felt disingenuous when I joined my other colleagues (there are six new tenure-line faculty in English right now, so we had the tenure meeting en masse) in fretting about how we'll ever pull it off. Shuddering at the size of the tenure file that was provided for us as an example. Getting wide-eyed at the prospect of publishing a book or five refereed articles in five years. That kind of thing. I felt disingenuous because, when I think, "holy shit, I'd better get my ass in gear," I'm feeling excited, energized. I say it with an eager grin, not a nervous smile.

Why? It took me a while to figure it out, but I think it's because the standards to which I'm being held at BGSU don't exceed those of my internal academic compass. That is, if after five years, when I go up for tenure review (in the sixth year), I have done enough for me to be satisfied with myself as a teacher, colleague, and member of the discipline of rhet/comp (yes, it is a discipline--but that's another post), then there's just no way I won't also receive tenure.

Please, though, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I will receive tenure. Even if I thought so, which I don't [edited to add: by this I simply mean I don't think it's just going to automatically happen], I wouldn't say so, because--well, let's just say I read my share of tragedies during grad school. I'm just saying that if things go in a way that makes me proud of myself and my career--and you can bet I'll be working extremely hard to see that they do--then I won't need to worry about anybody else's standards. Mine will always be higher.


At 8:54 PM, Blogger Doc Mara said...

You can both do it. You have the talent. Piece of cake.

At 9:12 PM, Blogger Lance said...

Thanks, Andrew. BTW, forgot to mention I got your old office. Do I have you to thank for the dry erase board?

At 9:27 PM, Blogger Doc Mara said...

Yep. I used some of my Learning Community money to get that. As soon as I started to ignore the department accounant's warnings, I felt better about getting it.

I haven't got my new one here yet.

The window makes a great dry-erase board too!

At 5:05 PM, Blogger Doc Mara said...

accounants? accountant's

At 9:03 PM, Blogger Lance said...

Accounant's. It's French for tightass.

At 12:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gosh, I hope you're referring to accountants in general, and not a specific person.


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