If you're not familiar with academic rankings, most universities follow a similar hierarchy:
–Adjunct, a part-time instructor
–Clinical instructor, lecturer, research associate, or research professor (non-tenure track positions that are often fixed termed like 3 years in length)
–Assistant professor (tenure track, full time)
–Associate professor (with tenure)
I've held all of these posts, except "full," starting as an adjunct lecturer with at University of Maine at Farmington in 1986. I taught 3-4 courses per semester in the English department for 3 1/2 years. These jobs pay around $2000 per course with no benefits. Universities now hire many adjunct instructors to keep costs low.
Generally, it takes 6 years of work to move from assistant professor to associate. Beyond being hired for a tenure-track position, reaching associate professor with tenure is the big prize. If you're not familiar with tenure, check out this explanation online. Advancement to associate happens once you've conducted research studies and published, received reasonable teaching evaluations, and provided service to your department, college, university, and beyond.
During each of those 6 years, a professor puts together an overview of work accomplished and that collection is reviewed and written about by the peer committee, associate dean, and dean of the college. Next, the dean makes a recommendation to the provost (vice president of the university and chief academic officer) for rehiring (or not) and the provost makes a recommendation to the president. Each year, an assistant professor receives a letter from the university president saying "upon the recommendation of the Provost…"
To advance from assistant professor to associate professor with tenure, the hoop gets bigger –or– perhaps I should say tighter! If you're doing poorly at year 4, the powers-that-be tell you and either give you a year to find a new job or provide you a mentor if they think you're worth salvaging. (No pressure, professor. No pressure.)
|Selected books to be sent to my 3 external reviewers |
with about 9 articles, a cover letter, and my CV
Th next step... the associate professor follows a standard protocol and presents papers to the college/department peer committee. Those papers go up the line to the president, and if she approves, the papers go to the Board of Trustees. (No pressure, professor.)
For me, this process is happening June 2014 through March 2015. Tuesday, my materials go to my external reviewers. In October, my papers go to the peer committee and start their journey through the university hierarchy.
I remember my first day at UMaine, September 2003. I was walking across campus and happened to see our college's associate dean, Anne Pooler. She had been a career academic after a stint as a high school social studies teacher. With her always present smile, Anne called out across the quad, "Good morning, professor!" The pressure was on.