Welcome to Macalester! There’s a lot to learn, absorb, and do as you navigate the transition to a tenure-track position. This site is intended to make the process as transparent as possible and to share information and resources that will help you as you move through your pre-tenure years at the college.  You are always welcome to reach out to me with questions or for support ([email protected]).  As a reminder, our conversations are confidential, and as Director of the Serie Center I am not involved in any assessment processes or personnel reviews.

The remainder of this page highlights key aspects of Macalester’s faculty review processes, offers reminders and recommendations about where you can get help with the kind of questions new faculty typically have, and describes our formal mentoring structures for pre-tenure colleagues.

Review processes 

At the end of January each year, all faculty submit an annual addendum in which you review the work of the previous calendar year in the areas of teaching, advising, building an inclusive and equitable classroom environment, scholarship, and service.

What exactly is “service?!,” you might ask? Before you undergo your pre-tenure review, “service” typically focuses on your department: participating in the activities of the department (meetings, events, etc.); taking on some department-level duties such as being the library liaison; organizing or hosting a department event or student group; assisting with a curricular development project, etc.  Ongoing service to the profession (e.g., serving as a manuscript reviewer, organizing a panel for a conference, etc.) also definitely “counts” as service. 

After your pre-tenure review (see below), and as you anticipate your tenure review, you might consider engaging in some more College-wide service. There are lots of opportunities for this: for example, you could serve on a steering committee for an interdisciplinary department, program, or concentration; be a member of a non-elected campus committee; engage with and support campus programs that focus on issues that matter to you such as the Department of Multicultural Life or the Sustainability Office; or nominate yourself to be the Secretary of the Faculty.

Typically, tenure-track faculty undergo a pre-tenure review by the Faculty Personnel Committee (FPC) during their third year. This process, which is described in the Faculty Handbook, begins during their second year at Macalester with a meeting of all second year tenure-track faculty, their department chairs, the Provost, the Vice Provost, and the chair of the Faculty Personnel Committee. The timeline for the review process and expectations about the contents of the personnel file are described at this meeting. 

One element of the personnel file is the Professional Development Plan (PDP) which is a document that describes the “story” of your work in the areas of scholarship, teaching and advising, and service. The Serie Center offers workshops for faculty preparing to undergo pre-tenure review about writing the Professional Development Plan (PDP). These workshops are led by former members of FPC and offer perspective and recommendations for writing an effective PDP. The outgoing chair of FPC is also available to read and advise on PDPs.

The tenure review process typically begins during a faculty member’s fifth year at Macalester, in preparation for review by FPC during the sixth year. The Provost and Dean of the Faculty website includes some questions and answers about Macalester’s faculty tenure process.

Getting Help

As I noted above, I am available to answer any and all questions, as are the Associate Director of the Serie Center and the rest of the Serie Center staff. Your department chair, other colleagues in your department, and your department coordinator can also be excellent sources of assistance. For example, 

  • Your department chair can address:
    • What are the requirements and expectations for tenure? How will I know if I am on track to meet them? Can I meet with you regularly to check in about how things are going?
    • What exactly are FTR funds and how should I be using them?
    • Where can I get advice on whether, when, and how to say “no” to service and other requests and invitations?
    • Can I hire a student (or two or three) as a teaching or lab or research assistant?
    • What are department and College expectations related to end-of-course surveys?  Is there a required form or process? Should I be asking anything in particular? Who will see my end-of-course student feedback? How are student evaluations of teaching used in the review and promotion process? 
    • Will anyone be observing my teaching?
    • Can I invite guest speakers to my class? Can I offer them an honorarium?
    • How do we balance class and lab instruction in our department?
    • I’ve got a steady stream of students coming to my office all the time; I’m very committed to supporting and mentoring them but I can’t figure out how to get any other work done. Do you have any advice?
      • Some additional perspective on this question: You’ll probably want to seek advice and perspective from other colleagues in your department in addition to other colleagues at Macalester – beyond those in your department – who share some of your key social identities. Colleagues from historically under-represented groups are typically highly sought after mentors for marginalized students. I am more than happy to connect you with colleagues who might have insight and experience here, just drop me a note at [email protected]
  • Your other department colleagues might be particularly helpful for questions such as:
    • How much reading should I assign each week?
    • Wow, that class discussion just fell totally flat… any suggestions?
    • I’d like to administer untimed exams, but I don’t want to extend into the next class period. Can I think about that with you?
    • Have you used a student research assistant? How does that work?
  • Your department coordinator can help you answer questions such as:
    • How do I get keys to my office?
    • How do I get my computer?
    • Can I order specific supplies for my office?
    • When does mail get delivered?
    • What if I need to mail something to a colleague at another school?
    • What is the process for scanning and copying?
    • I’ve been approved to hire a work study student, what do I do now?
    • Does the department have a refrigerator and a microwave where I can store and heat my lunch?

The Serie Center and the Kofi Annan Institute for Global Citizenship provide some structured opportunities to learn more about Macalester and to build relationships with colleagues:

  • All first-year tenure-track faculty members receive a course release to participate in the New Faculty Seminar, which runs from 12-1 pm every Wednesday during the academic year.
  • Pre-tenure faculty in their second year and beyond are welcome to a monthly gathering on the first Monday of the month, from noon to 1 p.m. 
  • The Kofi Annan Institute for Global Citizenship (KAIGC) supports a regular meeting for pre-tenure Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) faculty. Please contact Dean of the KAIGC Donna Maeda ([email protected]) for more information.

Mentorship opportunities

  • Connected Colleagues is our pre-tenure faculty mentoring program that pairs new colleagues with a senior colleague from outside of their department. Let me know if you are interested in participating; we can talk more about the program and strategize ways to identify a mentor who will best support you.
  • Your department chair, again, can serve as an important mentor for you, as can senior members of your department. The Faculty Handbook notes that one responsibility of the department chair is to “Mentor pre-tenure faculty members in the department on how to meet the tenure expectations of the College.” Other department chair duties (as described in the department chair handbook) include:
    • orienting new faculty to the college and the profession.
    • assessing the quality of teaching, advising, and course offerings in the department.
    • supporting the continual improvement of teaching and advising in the department, including providing individual feedback and offering opportunities for discussion of relevant issues by department colleagues.