Thursday, January 10, 2013

Not About Egypt: UPDATED

Classes start at RNU Monday. I am soooo not ready for this. Yesterday, I spent a couple of hours reviewing the Promotion/Tenure files of the various candidates, which was less than fun.

We all know one of the problems of student evaluations: no norming. Guess what? Faculty are equally poor at determining ranks, no matter the instructions and examples provided. Apparently, I work at the most elite universe in Lake Woebegone, where all the faculty are exceptional. After reading the file of Diva (my bete noire in the POLS dept), I decided to recuse myself from voting on his tenure. Personal antipathy and professional distaste shouldn't enter into a tenure vote. But after a couple of hours of reflection, and looking at the rest of the files, I'm going to go ahead and vote.

I realized that my antipathy isn't just personal: it's also professional. More than one fellow faculty has told me that Diva is dismissive to those he considers less than. All women faculty, women staff & administrators, women students who don't fawn. He even dismisses men: Star told me Diva hadn't spoken more than 'hello' to him in years, once Diva had a girlfriend. Once that relationship broke up, Diva expected the discarded friendship to revive without effort. Diva's chair, ARC, told me that Diva had fought me teaching the International Relations class for their department - not that he didn't think it needed to be done but he didn't want me to do it. Apparently, the fact that it's one of my research fields and my area of expertise didn't wash with him. ARC tells me that he had to chide Diva: 'You have to be professional in your interactions with Belle, no matter your personal feelings about her.' Which prompted a minor shift in the overt hostility to a kind of condescending acknowledgment of my existence. So that's an aspect I was going to ignore in recusing self.

Another was his contribution to the university: negative, that is. He's been on a board of directors with me since he arrived - he never attended the meetings of that board after the first six months, yet it remains on his CV as a 'continuing service commitment.' He put it in as an example of his 'extensive' community involvement. Given that, I have to question his actions with his other 'service' organizations.  For the first three years of his time on campus, his department 'protected' him from any committee assignments, encouraging him to cherry-pick his expected service stuff. Yes, he's been active in one organization, bringing $1500 to the university/department coffers. Once. He's visible as a scholar and blogger (since when have we accepted blogs as scholarly production?), and in those capacities, he's been a busy boy.

He rates himself as an exceptional teacher. Looking at the 'standardized forms' I see that his have the same problem as mine: the numbers aren't reliable. Diva has ranked himself as exceptional in all categories  - and he's 4 years into his career.

So I've decided that I'm going to raise all of those issues in everybody's reviews by the committee. I'm going to suggest that we, as a college, commit to a clearer definition of exceptionalism. That we help candidates compile and present their files in ways that will act against self-glorification and rank inflation by peer/chair reviewers. BTW, Star also presented a file - and in stark contrast to Diva's file, he's given himself (Star) room to improve and grow, acknowledged some issues and has a plan to get even better. Star's written more books, nearly flattened himself with service, re-visioned the entire History program, taken on both the chair-ship and the honors program, served on university budget committees, you name it. Teaching awards (his second year on campus, got Outstanding Teaching award), disciplinary awards for research and service... you name it. His portfolio was both impressive and completely ridiculous in terms of volume.

So today's committee meeting with the P&T folks is going to be interesting. I'm not going to recuse myself, I'm going to speak out. Wish me luck.

UPDATE: Well, we all agreed that Lake Woebegone has nothing on RNU. The committee noted that Diva hadn't followed procedure, and agreed to hold the result of the vote until he went back and did what he was supposed to do. I felt good when we did that to another better-than-everybody guy too. So I walked out feeling good about what we did, and our stance.

Only to be disgusted when Diva provided a whiny 'I didn't know' excuse and the committee caved. I tried to hold out, but the backbone within the committee was reduced to noodledom, they agreed it was whiny but backed off. He's got the votes for tenure, and we'll have him back. One of the comments on the follow up - when i said we're gonna see this again when he goes up for full - was 'I expect him to be on the market.' I noted that he's always on the market, but with the special treatment he always gets, he's not likely to abandon Big Man on Campus status for small fish in Big Pond. We're stuck with him.


3 comments:

JoJo said...

Wow some of these professors really have an inflated view of themselves don't they?

Stacey said...

The culture of our college is that EVERYONE has room for improvement. But if Diva is so widely known as a scholar and blogger (now I'm curious)will that outweight his obvious flaws as a colleague?

Maude said...

I'm obviously super late to the game here, but it sounds to me like it is indeed your duty to raise these issues. Sheesh, scholarship aside, is this really a person the college wants to invest its resources in as a colleague? It appears to me that if he received tenure he'd be even more insufferable, like he'd think he was the only person at the college who had ever achieved it in the history of the college. Collegiality is part of the deal for our tenure (it's even outlined in the handbook, and I found out it was the first question that the person who hired me asked my references--"what kind of colleague is she?"). Wow. He sounds like an insufferable ass.

How did it turn out?