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A failure of the tenure process

In the last year, the tenure processes for two separate faculty members were derailed at the last possible moments. Such occurrences are not only devastating for the tenure candidate, but extremely stressful for the tenure committee members, as well. Both instances also raised serious concerns for diverging from the established procedures. 

As written, tenure policies and procedures outlined in the Board of Regents Handbook, TMCC Tenure Guidelines, and the TMCC-NFA Contract are designed to systematically and objectively evaluate an individual’s performance and progress toward satisfying established criteria. When applied as intended, these steps should guarantee that no tenure candidate is surprised by the outcome at the end of the process. 

Most recently, a tenure candidate who had a solid track record on paper, earning excellent annual performance ratings and acceptable teaching observations, learned that a positive recommendation would not be forthcoming with only a few days remaining before the tenure application deadline. Apparently, the decision was primarily based on a single classroom observation in the final semester of the tenure period. Fortunately, the candidate was granted an exception for an extension, but only after several debilitating days.

In the prior case, a tenure recommendation was withdrawn after the candidate had already submitted the application.

The tenure probation period is a taxing time for a tenure-track candidate, and being made to believe that one is on track for three years, only to be told that you cannot apply or your application is withdrawn, is both crushing and unacceptable for a candidate. TMCC has rules on the books to prevent situations like this, but in these instances the rules were not followed. A candidate is supposed to be told by the end of the year before the candidate applies for tenure, whether they are a good fit for the institution, and if they aren’t they are supposed to receive a notice of non-renewal at this time. This was not followed.

The TMCC-NFA contract further stipulates that any concerns from the dean or the tenure committee shall be documented, and a plan with measurable benchmarks and a timeline to remedy the concerns shall be drafted. This was not followed either.

In other words, a candidate must be given a fair chance to remedy the concerns.In the most recent case, the candidate was not allowed to apply for tenure this year, or warned that a tenure application would fail, the candidate has to spend another year on tenure track, with the additional anxiety, and under the additional pressure this uncalled for situation entails.

The TMCC-NFA will vigorously defend tenure rights of all faculty. We will work with the Faculty Senate, and the TMCC Administration to strengthen committee training and candidate training to ensure this does not happen again.

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