e-mail me at billdeg@umich.edu


outside reviewers

Here's another odd component of the tenure application process. The university sends my tenure file out to five senior members of my field. My department's promotion and tenure committee chooses these reviewers, but I get to suggest 10-15 possible candidate. I hear that the committee generally uses folks from the submitted list.

They have to be tenured professors from other universities, ranked either associate or (preferably) full. Makes sense. They are also supposed to be from schools equivalent to or better than UM-Dearborn in terms of prestige. This is a bit more dicey, given that prestige is a pretty contested concept (are we talking Carnegie classifications, U.S. News and World Report rankings, or what?). Also dicey because "prestige" in composition studies (prestige of particular presses, institutions, etc.) is not always the same as prestige in other fields in the humanities.

Finally, the "prestige" thing is dicey for me because much of my research is in the area of open-admissions education and working-class culture. In many cases, senior members of the field working in these areas don't necessarily work at high prestige (by many definitions of the contested term) places.

A further thing that makes it tough to assemble this list: I'm not supposed to include anyone with whom I have a "close professional relationship." Kind of vague, eh? Some of the guidelines are specific: nobody from my dissertation committee, for instance. Nobody who I would call a "mentor." Fair enough. But what about someone who I invited to my campus to give a guest lecture? What about someone whose book I reviewed in a major journal? What about someone with whom I've gone out for coffee at 4Cs?

Is it better to pick people who you don't know at all? Because doing so makes it less likely that the person's expertise lies in my own areas of research. And don't you want people working on similar issues and questions?


Jeff said...

You should be known to reviewers. That's the whole point. Pick who you know but who hasn't gotten you a pub or served on your diss.

bdegenaro said...

Thanks, Jeff. I've gotten feedback from a number of mentors who have mostly suggested it's desirable to pick reviewers who one has a professional relationship with.