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the Tenure Code
Policies to Promote a Globally Focused Faculty
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Internationalizing the Tenure Code:
Policies to Promote a Globally Focused Faculty Robin Matross Helms Associate Director for Research Center for Internationalization and Global Engagement American Council on Education CIGE Insights This series of occasional papers explores key issues and themes surrounding the inter- nationalization and global engagement of higher education. Papers include analysis, expert commentary, case examples, and recommendations for policy and practice.
Acknowledgments The author gratefully acknowledges the contributions of a number of colleagues to this report.
First and foremost, Malika Tukibayeva, research associate at ACE during the 2013–14 academic year, located and compiled the 91 tenure codes included in this study and contributed to initial analyses. Lucia Brajkovic, senior research associate at ACE, conducted interviews and assisted with writing. Patti McGill Peterson and Heather Ward in ACE’s Center for Internationalization and Global Engagement provided editorial guidance and input. Importantly, the author would also like to thank the institutional leaders and other individuals who provided case examples, insights, and thoughtful advice that bring the data to life and highlight their practical applica- tions in a variety of campus contexts.
Setting the Stage: Tenure and Internationalization
The Heart of the Matter: Policy Content
What and How: Advice for Policy Design and Implementation
EXECUTIVE SUMMARYIn order to prepare students for work and life in the globalized world of the twenty-first century, colleges and universities are increasingly embracing internationalization as a key institutional priority. As the drivers of teaching and learning, faculty play a pivotal role in this process. For students to gain the skills and knowledge needed to achieve global competence, faculty themselves must be globally competent, and must be willing and able to infuse international perspectives and experiences into the curriculum and co-curriculum.
Fostering a global focus among faculty in the early stages of their careers sets the stage for continued interest and activity in the international realm, and helps institutions build a globally engaged professoriate from the ground up. For those institutions that have committed to internationalization as a key goal, tenure policies and procedures can be a powerful mechanism by which to incentivize—and, importantly, reward—early-career faculty engagement in internationalization. Incorporating globally focused criteria into standards for promotion and tenure gives junior faculty license to bring this work to the top of the list of competing priorities, and ensures that spending time on these activities will not hurt their tenure prospects.
Currently, however, few institutions have taken this step. Among respondents to ACE’s 2011 Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses survey, just 8 percent reported that their institutions had guidelines in place to specify international work or experience as a consideration in faculty promotion and tenure decisions. Interest in the idea of incorporating globally focused criteria into tenure codes, though, is strong. Whether and how to go about doing so is a frequent topic of discussion at ACE’s internationalization-focused conferences and programs, and inquiries appear regularly on international education message boards and in other venues.
As a follow up to the Mapping study and in order to provide examples and guidance for those institutions considering implementing internationally focused tenure and promotion criteria, ACE undertook an analysis of 91 publicly available tenure and promotion codes from 61 of the U.S. colleges and universities that indicated in our Mapping study that international work or experience was a consideration in the process. These included institution-, school/ college-, and departmental-level policies.
First, we categorized the internationally focused references and criteria in the codes according to the areas of faculty work they addressed: teaching, research, service, reputation, and broader contributions to internationalization. Overall, we found that research and service are the categories in which the most international references appear, followed by service;
teaching-related criteria are much less common—a trend that is at odds with stated goals for internationalization, which data indicate put student learning front and center. Examples of specific language from the codes and further analysis of the individual activities that comprise each category are presented in the report.
Looking beyond the policies themselves, we also interviewed key contacts at the institutions represented in the sample in order to understand the “lived reality” of the process and its implementation in a variety of contexts. Drawing on their expertise and case examples, we provide advice for institutions considering internationally focused changes to their tenure codes, both in terms of the content of the policies themselves and the institutional context to Internationalizing the Tenure Code: Policies to Promote a Globally Focused Faculty 1 support such changes. Finally, we propose topics for additional research, including the need for attention to policies and practices designed to engage the large—and growing—contingent of non-tenure-track faculty and instructors in U.S. higher education.
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SETTING THE STAGE:
Tenure and Internationalization Tenure is a hallmark of higher education in the United States. Tied closely to the protection of academic freedom—a cornerstone value of the American academy—tenure is seen as a key mechanism to recruit and retain talented faculty, ensure a consistent and committed corps of teachers and researchers, and give scholars the creative space needed to pursue their chosen lines of inquiry and ultimately, contribute to the advancement of knowledge in their fields.
To be sure, tenure is far from a universal fixture. Driven by “financial cutbacks, enrollment uncertainties, pressures for accountability, and confusion about academic goals” (Altbach 1999), among other factors, the last quarter-century has seen a substantial shift toward nontenure-track (full-time and part-time, short-term and long-term) academic positions. All told, at this point, only about 25 percent of the instructional workforce in U.S. higher education is tenured or on the tenure track (Lewin 2015) down from around one-third in 1997 (Trower 2009).
While many lament the declining prevalence of the tenure track, others contend that the system is outdated, and even potentially detrimental to the academic enterprise. As a counterpoint to arguments about academic freedom and other “pros” of tenure, some assert that the long-term commitments entailed by the tenure system decrease institutional flexibility and responsiveness, promote “academic bloat” and faculty “deadwood,” and are inconsistent with the values and priorities of the current and emerging professoriate (Trower 2009).
Indeed, various calls have been made—recently and notably by the governor of Wisconsin— for a rethinking of the need for and desirability of tenure as it has traditionally been conceived (Hefling 2015).
While the number of non-tenure-track faculty has risen substantially, tenure is still firmly rooted in the American academic psyche and ensuring practice. At many colleges and universities—even those with a substantial non-tenure track cadre of instructors—governance (via the faculty senate and other mechanisms) is the purview of tenured and tenure-track faculty. They are the primary decision makers when it comes to curriculum and the overall academic direction of the institution, and the prestige and stability associated with tenure-track posts make these positions the brass ring for recent graduates looking to launch their academic careers.
The tenure track is not an easy road, however. For those young faculty who do obtain coveted tenure track positions, the sixth year—with its “up-or-out” decision point—is a pivotal moment in their careers. The stakes are high, and so is the stress level. Junior faculty must balance a dizzying array of tasks, including research and writing (“publish or perish” being the often-cited mantra for assistant professors at many institutions), securing grant money, teaching, advising, serving on committees—the list goes on, leading many faculty to feel there simply are not enough hours in the day to fulfill their professional responsibilities and earn the coveted “yea” decision on tenure.
Measures to mitigate this stress have been widely implemented. “Stop-the-clock” provisions for new parents and caregivers, mentoring programs, mid-term reviews, and role-specific tenure tracks (e.g., a “professor of the practice” track focusing on teaching) aim to help faculty Internationalizing the Tenure Code: Policies to Promote a Globally Focused Faculty 3 prioritize the many demands on their time, and navigate the probationary years successfully.
To this end, many institutions have also made a concerted effort to increase the clarity and specificity of their tenure guidelines and procedures in order to provide a better roadmap for their junior faculty. Mapping out tenure requirements also provides an opportunity to align stated criteria and expectations with the institution’s mission and core values, and ensure that those faculty to whom a long-term commitment is made are doing work that reflects and advances key institutional priorities.
ENTER INTERNATIONALIZATIONIn order to prepare students for work and life in the rapidly globalizing world of the twenty-first century, colleges and universities are increasingly embracing internationalization as one of these key institutional priorities. In the 2011 iteration of the American Council on Education (ACE) Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses survey, for example, approximately one in two institutions (51 percent) indicated that their mission statements referred to international or global education, or other aspects of internationalization. A nearly identical percentage (52 percent) reported that international education or some aspect of internationalization was among the top five priorities in their current strategic plans.
As the drivers of teaching and learning, faculty play a pivotal role in internationalization. For students to gain the skills and knowledge needed to achieve global competence, faculty must be willing and able to infuse international perspectives and experiences into the curriculum and, in some cases, the co-curriculum. In her 2000 article “The Worthy Goal of a Worldly
Faculty,” Patti McGill Peterson underscored the importance of faculty efforts in this vein:
Students graduate, but the faculty remain and serve as the stewards of the curriculum. They can be the agents of a holistic approach to a more broadly defined educational program, or they can balkanize the curriculum, allowing cross-cultural scholarship to settle in tiny niches with little overall impact.
As a group, they have the capacity to set a deeply embedded foundation for the international and intercultural character of an institution.... Faculty can be a force for developing a more global perspective for all students—no matter their majors or the kinds of institutions they attend. (3) For faculty to become such a force, however, a substantial commitment of time is required— to acquire global knowledge themselves, and to design and implement learning experiences that provide students with opportunities to acquire this knowledge as well. Institutions have introduced a variety of measures to encourage faculty to make this time investment, including international travel grants, logistical support for faculty teaching or conducting research abroad, course releases for internationally focused work, opportunities to learn a foreign language, and workshops on course internationalization, among others. But for junior faculty on the tenure track, even if these opportunities are appealing in theory, they may seem like additional logs on the fire in terms of already maxed-out schedules—better left to their senior colleagues who have already overcome the tenure and promotion hurdle.
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