A Halloween post about the scariest thing I can think of

I’m caught up on my grading. I’ve done more academic writing this fall than I have the whole rest of the year. My office is (relatively) clean. I’ve remodeled my bathroom. I’m even ahead on my ironing.

I wish I had a tenure dossier to procrastinate about every semester. I’d get so much more done.

Tenure Dossier by Mosaic36 on Flickr, licensed under CC BY 2.0

The deadline for my mid-tenure review materials is two weeks away, and for every item I add, I think of three more that I’ve forgotten about. The stuff that seemed trivial is fiddlier than I thought it would be. And the part that I’ve been bracing for – the narrative, where I lay out exactly why I’m a superstar professor – is still looming.

This is where I remember that the people in my department occasionally read this thing. Don’t worry Ann, it’s almost done. No you can’t look at it yet. I just need to tighten up a couple paragraphs before I’m willing to let people see it.

Of course the point of a dossier is that most of the work should already be done: you just need to put it all together for people to see. But I wasn’t anticipating how hard it would be to select the right things and tweak them to my satisfaction. I hadn’t updated my cv since I was on the market last time. Is it time to take my undergraduate research fellowship off of there? Sure it was 15 years ago and in another field, but c’mon, an award’s an award. Then there’s whom to ask for letters, which course materials to include, whether the formatting is right…

The big decision was whether to try to bring in years towards the tenure clock from my postdoc. According to my faculty code, I technically don’t have to declare that now, but the committee has made it clear that it would be helpful to indicate that in this review. I don’t think I will for a couple of reasons, the biggest being that there just aren’t many financial or other incentives to tenure early at my school. I’ve never once felt my academic freedom constrained, or worried about what the provost thinks about my choice of research topics. So especially with the hope of starting a family sometime soon, I don’t see a reason to push.

I also had a choice of submitting a binder for my dossier, or making an electronic version. I chose the latter for the convenience of everyone involved. But typically our electronic dossiers are done via Blackboard, as if this whole process weren’t painful enough. When a friend described taking screenshots of her documents in order to post them as .jpgs to get everything to look right, I balked. Getting full control over a personal webpage at my institution has historically been difficult as well, so I got my own domain. And since my web design skills never really made it out of 1998, I installed WordPress to handle that. It’s been well worth the minor hassle of setting it all up, and I’m really happy with how easy it is to edit pages and add files.

So now it’s two more weeks of dumping content and handwringing over minor details that will probably either not be noticed or will be wrong according to somebody no matter what I do. I’ll post more specifics about what I’m including in coming weeks, and definitely more details on what people tell me to fix. In the meantime, fueled by tonight’s leftover Halloween candy, I’m just going to keep uploading until it’s done.

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