Submitted by syntaxfactory on December 2, 2014 - 3:23pm
Mentoring the "Terminal Associate Professor"
Promotion: A Personal or a Public Good?
Because promotion to the rank of full professor is different from attaining the other two ranks, there is one way in which its influence is different. If a department doesn't receive permission to make a tenure-track hire of an assistant professor, its work is clearly hampered. Tenure-track faculty usually have far higher research expectations than do instructors or adjuncts. Even at schools with a mission wholly devoted to teaching, assistant professors are often expected to demonstrate a greater commitment to the institution, serving on more committees, putting in longer office hours, and acting as advisors and mentors to students in the program. Without a corps of associate professors, a department doesn't have the level of stability, continuity, and seniority that comes from people remaining in their positions for an extended period of time. Associate professors carry institutional history with them. Adjuncts, instructors, and even assistant professors may come and go, but associate professors are able to see more of the big picture because they've been affiliated with the school longer, often working for several deans, provosts, and presidents, and thus understanding where the mission of the school ends and the visions of individual administrators begin.
From this perspective, promotion to the rank of full professor is mostly a personal good. It's the faculty member who receives the salary increase and the added prestige. The department receives little tangible benefit.