Friday, May 28, 2010

Promoting young faculty at Harvard

The Chronicle reports At Harvard, Tenure Isn't Just for Old People Anymore (and the issue, they surmise, is two career households).

"For decades, assistant professors at Harvard University knew better than to get too comfortable. After all, they probably wouldn't be staying there very long.
Unlike the typical university, Harvard didn't have a tenure track. Instead, most young scholars spent several years capitalizing on the university's famous name and resources, then moved on to a tenured job somewhere else. Meanwhile, Harvard usually reserved tenure for senior stars with established reputations whom it lured away from other universities.
In the last several years, however, Harvard has changed. Of the 41 people to whom the university offered tenure last year, half started as junior scholars there. The university had been finding it harder to persuade senior faculty members to pick up their families and move, even to storied Cambridge, so it has developed a tenure track and begun grooming those coming up through the ranks."...

"Plucking senior scholars from other campuses worked well for Harvard when the desired scholars had spouses or other partners who didn't work. "It used to be that if you were Harvard, you crooked your finger and people came," says Susan Carey, who heads the university's psychology department.
But over the last couple of decades, as dual-career couples became the norm, Harvard's offers were less compelling. Many senior scholars were unwilling to move if it meant spouses had to give up their jobs.
"The old days when the guy came home and said, 'Honey, we're moving to Cambridge, pack up,' just don't exist anymore," says Lizabeth Cohen, chairwoman of the history department. "We were investing huge amounts of time in senior searches and not getting the yield to make it worth it." "

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