Despite recent attacks on the notion of tenure, most institutions of higher learning still offer some version of academic tenure to those faculty fortunate enough to be hired into "tenure-track" or "tenure-line" positions. For the newly-hired tenure-track faculty member, the question "What do I have to do to get tenure?" tends to pepper much of his/her waking thought. While this natural and important question is nearly universal among junior tenure-track faculty, the answer to the question is far from universal, and depends largely on particular departmental, university, and disciplinary expectations, along with a slew of site-specific cultural, political, and other issues.
The authors of Mentor in a Manual Climbing the Academic Ladder to Tenure have undertaken the daunting task of providing a handbook to guide junior faculty at all types of institutions (from vocational colleges to the Ivy League) through the sometimes-nebulous tenure and promotion process. Authors A. Clay Schoenfeld and Robert Magnan offer twelve chapters of sage advice, each based on the authors extensive research and interviews with faculty and administrators across the country. As all good mentors do, Mentor in a Manual goes far beyond the original question ("What do I have to do to get tenure?"), and helps the reader re-think and re-contextualize the question, formulate new questions, and undergo self-assessment. The authors warn that "any assistant professor who actually thinks that any generic prescription might ensure him or her tenure is probably too naïve to survive in academia" (p. 24). Borrowing a line from The Music Man, the authors stress that "Youve got to know your territory!" (p. 27), and in chapter after chapter they help the reader examine his/her institution, and ask pertinent questions.
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