Workplace Confidential

One dissertation based book and five articles, three related to the book and two to a new project, is not a terribly demanding standard for tenure at an institution with a 2-2 teaching load, where people teach in field, and which has one of the greatest libraries
in the country. It would be ideal to have a semester’s leave in which to finish the book
manuscript, but I have seen this level of production accomplished without that, too. Still,
the point about leave is well taken.

Especially in highly competitive fields I seriously doubt such a place would ever have to hire someone who could not understand, or refused believe these tenure requirements, and certainly not when they were written down and explained to them. If they did somehow hire someone that clueless, then they might have done well to look at their own hiring process and see whether they could find a way to screen better next time.

I find the idea of a kind department chair who made assistant professors cry to get them to believe these requirements, and whom these assistant professors thanked later for literally whipping them into shape quite ludicrous. I am fortunate never to have met a department chair who tried to make assistant professors cry, let alone succeeded at it.

I had a dissertation director who behaved that way, for no practical reason I could see
and without provocation. Ze would spend so much time yelling at us that ze could not see we were making progress to degree. We would finally get hir attention: we know we are lazy, but we really need you to be quiet for a few minutes and read these chapters. And ze would say, what? Chapters, that read like books? I did not expect! How could you?

I am sure ze thinks, to this day, that without hir ravings we would never have finished.
The fact is that without them, we would have been less tired and would have done more and better work since. Why did we have this dissertation director, you ask? Because we
were at the #1 program in the United States at the time, and we were in a certain field and subfield, and that was who the expert there was. And ze had hir good points, so it wasn’t like some subfields everyone knew not to go into because of who you would have to work with.

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