CSSE members Tim Sibbald and Victoria Handford discuss their upcoming publication, The Academic Gateway: Understanding the Journey to Tenure
The induction of faculty to the academy occurs during their tenure-track years. Little has been written about this developmental journey. A new book published by the University of Ottawa Press provides a collection of voices from across Canada about the experience of tenure-track professors in education. It is sure to provide insight to graduate students who consider the option of a career in higher education, and will help those in the tenure-track make sense of the experiences they are having. For established academics and deans it is a reminder of the challenges faced by new faculty and a chance to reflect on the range of experiences and possibilities to improve the journey
The book is divided into four organizational sections reflecting late, middle, and early tenure-track, as well as a section that has multiple authors. This is not a simple, straightforward process, however. The lived experiences reveal significant challenges that the authors had to address. What is remarkable is the variety and scope of issues that lead to the ultimate assessment: a tenure decision.
Within the late tenure section authors speak of the institutional rush to take on leadership roles, handling mental health issues that could not be concealed from their dean, and an immigration experience, among others. The middle tenure section has an author who speaks of the challenges of balancing academic work with childrearing, another speaks of concerns about whether his methodological approach would meet peer approval, while two others try to draw out their own efforts at making sense of the tenure-track experience. The early tenure-track authors highlight the wide variety of backgrounds that faculty bring to the academy. Their chapters illustrate how significant the transition into the academy can be in terms of a career, but also identify the impact on family and balance between home and work.
The final section of the book focuses on shared writing, and includes a pair of authors who focus on co-teaching, three indigenous authors who address some unique challenges, and a writing group that provides support for less experienced faculty. The writing group at Memorial University demonstrates that support for newer faculty can be provided in a meaningful way. Chapters emphasize the authors’ experience without providing advice. The final chapter draws together advice offered from all chapter authors. For graduate students this can allow them to enter the academy aware of the challenges, while for deans and experienced faculty it will give them pause to consider how the experience might be improved.
The Academic Gateway: Understanding the Journey to Tenure
Edited by Timothy Sibbald and Victoria Handford
Available April 2017
270 pages $39.95