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The Mysteries of Tenure

What exactly is tenure?  There seems to be a general consensus of what it is; it’s something that teachers get from being at one school for a long time. But what does it take to achieve tenure, and what does it mean in the long run? Dr. Lisa Boehm of the Academic Affairs Office agreed to help us understand its complex structure.

Tenure is different for every department here at Emmanuel; each holding its own standards of scholarship, teaching, service, and engagement with the campus. Dr. Boehm explained that there are different levels of professors and that one has to “level up” in order to reach tenure. Most professors come in as assistant professors, and then they become assistant associate professors before finally becoming full-fledged professors. The level at which they enter all depends on where they taught before coming to Emmanuel.

Every seven years, applications for tenure are accepted. Most professors spend these seven years preparing their portfolio that is presented to the committee. This portfolio is full of any papers, books, findings and other publications the professor has made. It is then passed up through Academic Affairs to the Board of Trustees and all the way up to the President herself. The process of being selected for tenure is a careful one, because with tenure comes great responsibility.

Professors are given more freedom with their research once they reach tenure. It is then that they may begin researching topics that are more personal and pertain less to the institution. Of course, this all means very little to students on a daily basis; a professor getting tenure doesn’t usually directly affects us. The lesson plans remain the same and we never know that our professors are changing their level of professorship. The only time it would affect students is if a professor did not get tenure. In this case, they typically leave and seek tenure at other institutions.

Professors take on this endeavor on top of grading all of our labs and papers, tests and quizzes, professors are working to bulk up their portfolio. Even after obtaining tenure, they still have to show the committee their progress when they are reviewed every three years.

We can see the works of our professors being posted on the Faculty Scholarship Board, located on the third floor of the Administration Building.


Abigail Matheson is a Staff writer and may be reached at

Posted by on November 5, 2013. Filed under Around Campus. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.