Desperately Seeking Tenure

The tenure process doesn’t have to manage you;
you can manage it.

—Sandy Jap, Associate Professor of Marketing

Desperately Seeking Tenure
Controversies, Concerns, and Consensus
Scott Lilienfeld, Associate Professor of Psychology, Guest Editor

You could gauge the health of a university community by how well it handles the unconventional individuals. It’s an unhealthy university that can’t tolerate or deal with those sorts of folks.
John Snarey, Professor of Human Development and Ethics, President of the Faculty Council

The tenure process doesn’t have to manage you; you can manage it.
Sandy Jap, Associate Professor of Marketin

Tenure in the Medical School
What is it, and what does it mean?

By Robert Pollack
(To the tune of “Señor” by Bob Dylan)

Peer Review and the Public
The thorny question of post-tenure review
Mark Bauerlein, Professor of English

Exploring Tenure and Research at Emory
A view from the inside
Claire E. Sterk, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Public Health

Teaching and Tenure
Conceptions and misconceptions at Emory
Robert McCauley, Professor of Philosophy

“Collegiality” a Criterion for Tenure?
Why it’s not all politics
Ann Hartle, Professor of Philosophy

Return to Contents


Sandy Jap came to the Goizueta Business School from MIT in 2001. She earned tenure the following year.

Scott Lilienfeld What was the tenure process like for you?

Sandy Jap In the business school, faculty are considered for tenure during their sixth year. The faculty member submits six or eight names of people he or she would like to write letters, the department does the same thing, then the letters get farmed out in September. They come back hopefully by November, and then the final package goes to the committee around the beginning of December, and then from there it goes on to the president.

There was a little bit of anxiety for me in the sense that the business school here is in some transition. Since Tom Robertson became our dean in 1998, he has really
tried to change the reputation of the business school from a teaching school to a research school. And the school has changed its orientation not away from teaching, but toward raising the bar on research.

I had only been here a year when I went up, so I wondered whether I had met enough people so that they wouldn’t say, Who is Sandy Jap? at the tenure committee meeting. The first year I made an effort to meet a lot of people in each of the areas of the school and let them know who I was and what I did.

There was also a bit of uncertainty because most of my papers were single-authored, which is sort of unusual. When one does single-authored work, one doesn’t have as many papers as those who co-author their work. It is also not clear how people “count” a single-authored paper. Is it the equivalent of one, one and a half, or two co-authored papers?

SL What if you publish in second- and third-tier journals?

SJ I think in the past they were weighed pretty heavily. But now the business school is asking for more first-tier publications.

SL Did you have to write a research or a teaching statement?

SJ I was asked to write a professional identity statement. I had developed one while at MIT and adjusted it for Emory. The only thing that was somewhat new
to me here was the teaching statement.

SL What kind of feedback did you get while coming up?

SJ My feedback was mostly received at mit, where we had a two-year review, then a four-year and a six-year review. Then we’d be considered for tenure during the seventh year. At Emory, one doesn’t get reviewed until the fourth year. We do annual reports, but they’re mostly used to determine salary increases. In the fourth year, one has to prepare a package and show them some papers. The question then is, does this person look like he or is she going to be able to pass a promotion and tenure committee in another two years from now?

SL How has tenure changed your life as an academic?

SJ Suddenly I’m asked to be on more committees than ever, and it’s not as easy any more to say no because I have to focus on my research.

SL It’s the opposite where I am in the college. Before tenure, they put you on tons of committees and it hurts you if you beg off.

SJ It’s a delicate balance because you want to maximize your value to the university, but your value is partly idiosyncratic to the institution and partly determined by your external publications. Which is weighed more heavily is an important part of understanding the game. In other words, the tenure process doesn’t have to manage you; you can manage it. You can make yourself known to people and understand the value of committee work.

SL How do you feel you were able to manage the tenure process and make it work for you?

SJ Aside from having the necessary publications, “corridor conversations” are one part of the process. Talking to people who understand the process, the landmines, the personalities is important. Knowing who people on the committee are and what they ask for and value is another part of it. Without these aspects, things would have been a lot more vague.