“Welcome to the Hotel California,” one colleague notoriously said to folks who earned tenure. The foreboding lyric “we are all just prisoners here, of our own device” indeed has some resonance.
But some faculty do take that risk and leave tenured positions. I saw friends go through the tenure process a second time. It wasn’t always easy breezy. And when I prepared to go through the process myself, I couldn’t find much advice beyond conversations with friends. The lack of information struck me as a gap I could fill.
At the start of my new job at Merrimack College, I opened up a simple word doc and made notes about my second tenure process. After earning tenure last winter, I reached out to my friend Rochelle Ruffer about collaborating on an opinion piece on the subject. The whole writing process took about six months from the start of the collaboration with Rochelle to the accepted article.
Rochelle and I went back and forth in a google doc, distilling our advice into main points about teaching, research, and service (the big three when applying for tenure) and pitched The Chronicle of Higher Education. We never heard back.
We tried Inside Higher Ed, got a response right away about which editor would review our query, and received a request for the full piece about two weeks after our initial submission.
There was a little confusion about whether our query was the full article. (Note to self and nearly all academics: brevity is your friend.) Other than little bumps like that, it was an easy process with one round of bigger revisions and one round of minor revisions.
Academics are so conditioned to write and publish for free that Rochelle and I were actually surprised when we got paid for the article. It was a nice extra benefit. And here’s our article: On the Tenure Track…Again. We hope you find it useful.