Tenure is a privilege, perhaps one that cannot be sustained indefinitely in its present form in our current society (at the University of Tennessee, we presently have a posttenure review process), but being on the tenure track is also a privilege, especially if one is privileged in other (financial and identity-related) ways, as I am.
This is to say that as I begin my fourth year as a pre-tenure (but tenure track) faculty member, I commit to doing more of the following:
- Put myself on the line when it comes to what I believe
- Not focus on counting numbers, but making progress on projects about which I am passionate
- Being vocal about unethical practices around how we publish scholarly work
There are not radical things, but some run counter to commonly held guidance for pre-tenure faculty. My message (to me!) is that if one has a kind of pre-tenure privilege, then one already has the kind of protection that tenure can offer, and that doing these things requires gaining experience. If one is fortunate enough to achieve tenure, then other milestones can incentivize us to keep doing things how we have—going alone with the normative expectations, counting up milestones, and not being more radical about how we go about one’s work given the incredible opportunity afforded by academic tenure. So, for someone who a) is generally not radical like myself and b) has the benefit of a great deal of privilege, there is not a better time than now - pre-tenure - to get started.