Monday, April 30, 2012


Today I received my official notice from the university that my promotion to associate professor with tenure has been approved. I will officially become an associate professor with the start of the new semester in the fall. This is very good news. The process is a long one, especially here at the University of Arizona. I submitted my tenure packet (a set of materials that makes the case why they should promote me) in August of last year.

This is the official letter from the university. It is not that exciting to read, but it is nice to have. For those of you who are not fully steeped in academia, I will explain what getting tenure means. Tenure means a few things. First, it means that a professor has made a meaningful contribution to his/her field of knowledge. For me that is research in the field of management (I do research specifically on boards of directors and top executives). The promotion committees evaluate whether you have made a meaningful contribution by looking at how many academic articles you have published, whether those articles have been published in  rigorous and prestigious journals, and by getting letters from other prominent researchers assessing your research contributions. It is a significant thing to have published enough research that your peers say that you have done something meaningful. (Note: If you want to learn more about what I actually do in terms of research, feel free to go to my academic website:

Second, getting tenure means that I am advancing in rank from assistant professor, to that of associate professor. There are only three real ranks an academic can achieve (assistant, associate, and full professor), so moving to the middle rank is significant. This also means that I will be expected to take on a broader role within my department and the academic community in terms of mentoring students, sitting on departmental and university committees, reviewing and editing research articles, and more.

Third, it means that the university is committing to employ me until I retire. Essentially I have a job here as long as I want one. This kind of job security is unparallelled outside of an academic setting. The principle behind lifetime employment is that it gives academics freedom to do research and publish on unpopular topics without fear of reprisal from university officials. However, in practice it seems to exist mostly because of competitive pressure.

Finally, the promotion is usually accompanied by a raise. Academic salaries do not usually go up much from year to year, so the promotion opportunities that occur with promotion to associate and full professor are usually the most significant raises you will ever see, unless you change jobs. Currently I do not know how much of a raise I will get, but any raise will obviously be nice.

So, this is a big day for me and for my family. I feel very appreciate for all of the blessings that I have received. I have worked hard to get this promotion, but I am also very aware that most of my success comes because I have been blessed by the Lord.


Marci said...

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!! That is incredible! Did you let out a huge sigh of relief once you had that letter in your hand? congrats again, that is a long a tough road but you made it!

Steve said...

Throughout the process I had gotten very positive feedback, so I wasn't that worried, but it was nice to have the official notice.

Barb said...

You are awesome! We are so proud of you!!

merathon said...

job security is HUGE! i wonder how much patrick's stress level would drop if he wasn't worrying about getting fired on a daily basis!

congrats on the big milestone!

Valerie said...

Congrats! I had no doubt it would happen, but still a very exciting day nonetheless!

Maria said...

Hurray! Great work Steve!

Doug Pitcher said...

We are glad to hear you are doing so well.

Does that mean you are in Arizona for good or do professors move from one university to another looking for more opportunities?

Steve said...

It means that if I wanted to stay in Arizona for good then they would have to let me. Professors do switch schools if they want to for various reasons.