faculty orientation: 3 categories

I wrote a blog post. Then I realized I was making assumptions about the reader’s knowledge of the realm of academics — by this I mean higher education: college or university. I speak only from my knowledge in mathematics although I imagine much is applicable to other fields, especially STEM fields.

In this strange and wondrous realm, tenured and tenure-track faculty are usually evaluated based on the following three criteria.

  • Teaching = courses, mentoring & advising, student project supervision, etc.
  • Research = publications … (is there something else in this category? lol)
  • Service can be
    • to the profession = reviewing or refereeing journal articles, other positions at an academic journal, conference activities such as giving talks or organizing, workshop organization at a math institute, etc.
    • to the institution = campus wide or departmental committee work, seminar organization, other departmental work, etc.

There is ambiguity about which activity goes in which category, especially the research category where it could be broadened to include other scholarly activities such as contributing to the academic community in various ways. Every institution values the categories differently. Not many people are comfortable putting exact relative percentages on the importance of each category, so I will try to frame it in general terms. Roughly speaking,

  • a research oriented school could be anything from a good state school to an ivy league. They place high emphasis on research excellence, lesser comparatively but still important is teaching, and much less emphasis on service.
  • a teaching oriented school could be a smaller state school or a liberal arts college/university. Here the highest emphasis is on teaching. Research is valued and expected but the emphasis is on quality not necessarily quantity; although a very low publication rate would be questioned. Service is also important.
  • a highly teaching oriented school could be a community college, a small state school, or a liberal arts college. Here the highest emphasis is on teaching and service. The category of research is broadened in order to include more general scholarly activities.

I plan to post about advice that I’ve heard from women who got tenure based on evaluations in the above categories, from the perspective of a person seeking such a position [me] :).

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