Achieving tenure is a, often the, major milestone in the span of an academic career. But what changes with tenure? How do the pre- and post-tenure landscapes differ? For too many faculty the answer can be mired in too many new responsibilities, unclear transitions and expectations, and too little time to recover from the rigor of the tenure process.
With proactive consideration, however, tenure-related changes can bring satisfaction, challenge, and expansion to an academic career. Typical changes with tenure include additional responsibility:
- more formal leadership roles and requirements
- becoming a formal mentor
- needing to see and understand the complexities of tenure decisions
- greater responsibility for the mission of the university (beyond how my scholarship contributes to it)
- more responsibility for finding productive solutions, innovations, responses to crises, etc.
They also include changes in relationship to colleagues and scholarship, such as:
- less clarity to the career pathway – there are many ways to get there from here (and many “theres” to get to)
- greater identification with (and responsibility for) the “system” of higher education – it’s policies and procedures and mechanisms
- new risks and risk calculations in scholarship
- discerning whether and how the advice and experience of more senior faculty apply to me
- less protection from the politics and tensions of the department
- different demands and possibilities of when and how to speak my mind
- greater responsibility for figuring out when and how to say no