Peyton Coder, VPFA Graduate Assistant, MSW graduate student
There are three stories that make up the human journey: 1) the story we tell ourselves about who we are; 2) the stories others tell about us; and 3) the stories we tell about other people and the ways they align or don’t align with other stories.
Being able to tell your story as a faculty member is critical, as these stories of research, service, and teaching play a critical role in promotion. However, Teaching and Professional Faculty (TPF) often find themselves writing to tenure-track faculty and administrators who may not know them as they seek promotion. For example, Professor Paula Adamo stated that when she went up for promotion to full professor, she had to write both to her own department and to a Division Committee, who did not know her and who were not experts in the diverse aspects of second-language teaching. Structured support for TPF writing promotion dossiers for different audiences will improve chances of promotion.
Recommendations for Telling your Story
One major recommendation that emerged from the Pathways to Promotion panel was to find a trusted colleague to help you develop and review your dossier. Both Professors Heather Martin and Michael Talamantes recommended a different set of eyes to review materials before sending them to the committee. Similarly, TPF should seek advice early in the process before spending hundreds of hours composing and assembling their documents. A trusted colleague to review promotion material and share experiences can be a helpful guide in deciding what to include and exclude in promotion materials. When writing, it is easy to overlook important achievements or dismiss smaller achievements. Having a trusted person to discuss or review materials with can highlight the faculty member’s best achievements. By working with a trusted mentor, TPS faculty members can also learn the system of promotion better and tailor promotion materials to fit it.
Write About What You Love and Find Joy in the Process
Another key takeaway from the panel was writing about what you love and finding intrinsic value in writing about what you love. As stated by Professor Michalec, promotion documents should reflect that faculty are doing what they love. Another suggestion by Professor Talamentes was to find value and joy in the process of promotion. This was an interesting insight, as faculty members are often told that they should only focus on their achievements, even if these achievements were stressful or even unpleasant. Showing promotion committees what faculty members love doing, especially in their teaching and research at DU, could help show that their love for their work and promotion go hand in hand.