Provost says budget cuts won’t upset tenure tracks

The university’s recent 8 percent operating budget cuts will not affect associate professors’ ability to gain tenure, the provost said.

Funding for travel, which is a facet of operations, will not have any bearing on whether a professor receives tenure, Provost Nowell Donovan said.

“While traveling to conferences where their publications are featured is important, the actual publication is way more important,” Donovan said.

Paulette Burns, dean of the Harris College of Nursing and Health Sciences, said even though travel may be affected, the publication of research won’t be.

Faculty Senate assistant secretary and psychology professor Dianna McFarland agreed that travel is not what matters in gaining tenure.

“Attending conferences is only one small part of gaining tenure,” McFarland wrote in an e-mail.

In the AddRan College of Liberal Arts, there is a five to six year window for assistant professors to work toward tenure, said Ariane Alizet, assistant professor of medieval and early modern British literature.

During that time, assistant professors work and do research in their field of expertise, which they in turn publish and present at conferences, Alizet said.

Alizet said other than attending conferences, the two other main components to gaining tenure are publishing research and service to the university. Service to the university can range from siting on committees to giving presentations, she said.

Alizet said she was unsure if budget cuts would affect her ability to gain tenure.

“Traveling to conferences is an important part of gaining my tenure, I’m not sure, however, that the budget cut is a be-all end-all decision when it comes to traveling,” Alizet said.

There’s still money in the budget for travel, but a lot of the decisions regarding funding travel will reside with deans, Donovan said.

Burns said with travel continuing to escalate in cost, the cuts in the budget will force departments to use the dollars they have more efficiently.

“Each department will have to look at how the faculty will be the most successful,” Burns said.

Andrew Schoolmaster, dean of the AddRan College of Liberal Arts, said he doesn’t see the budget cut as a large issue in regard to assistant professors gaining tenure.

“While it may be a slight hindrance, I don’t think it is necessarily an obstacle,” Schoolmaster said. “If I was faced with a situation where an assistant faculty member needed to be at a conference to give an important presentation during their probationary period, I would make sure they got there,” he said.

Donovan said associate professors can look for ways to make their travel funding go further.

“Professors might consider going to a regional conference rather than a national one,” Donovan said.

Donovan said the bottom line is “if they’re good, they’ll get their tenure.”