Making art and making tenure

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Taking Center Stage?
The role of the performing arts in Emory's intellectual life

"What I think has been missing is the critical discussion of these works of art and their performance in our midst."
--Don Saliers, Parker Professor of Theology and Worship

"Before you can have critical discourse, you need to have a widespread direct experience."
--Sally Radell, Associate Professor of Dance

Lean times for the arts

Academic Exchange April/May 2000 Contents Page

Performing arts faculty work within tenure criteria that strike parallels between creative research and more mainstream notions of research in other disciplines. National awards and published musical compositions, for instance, offer analogies to the scholarly, peer-reviewed publications required for tenure in other fields. But often the products of artistic scholarship look less like nouns and more
like verbs.

"I don't have publications; I design," says Associate Professor of Theater Leslie Taylor. "In my department, that wasn't a problem because everyone understands what a designer does." To get tenure, though, Taylor had to write "reams" of explanations of her field and how her achievements fit into it.

Similarly, for dance professionals, solo concerts, works performed by professional repertory companies, and dance works selected for public television count for tenure, in addition to traditional historical or critical studies of dance. As with other academic departments, getting tenure in the arts also requires a blend of excellence in scholarship, teaching, and service.

And, as in other fields, faculty and administrators may differ in their interpretations of tenure guidelines. For example, while performance is generally viewed as equivalent to written works in the music department, music professor Timothy Albrecht admits that getting professors with various specialties and administrators to agree on tenure criteria can be challenging: "Trying to find genuine research equivalents is an issue we visit and re-visit."