Six Professors Receive Tenure

In order for a professor to secure their position at the College, they must undergo the rigorous process of gaining tenure. That process culminated last week for six professors, whose demonstrated excellence granted them permanent spots on the Hill.
Tenure is typically a six-year process that involves a continuous review by professors, students and various committees, concluding in a final decision from the Board of Trustees.
“It’s definitely not a sprint, but [rather] a marathon,” Assistant Professor of Mathematics Scott Taylor said. Taylor was one of the professors to receive tenure last week and also mentioned how the experience can be a stressful one that takes a lot of work, and in the end, “it’s all or nothing.” The final decision is characterized by the Board’s evaluations of three main components of the professor’s career: teaching, research and service.
Of these components, teaching receives the most weight, and its rating is heavily influenced by student and professor feedback. During the probationary period, when the professor in question does not have a permanent position at the College, he or she is tested and evaluated by fellow colleagues in their respective department. Evaluations are often completed after observing a few of the professor’s class sessions and indicate areas where the professor either performs excellently or needs improvement.
In addition to teaching, a professor’s research demonstrates a sense of scholarship and professional development that are intrinsic to academia. Another recently tenured faculty member, Assistant Professor of Psychology Christopher Soto, said, “I came to Colby because I love to teach and I love research. At Colby, there are opportunities to integrate them both.”
The College provides professors with a pre-tenure sabbatical, along with numerous chances to collaborate with peers on scholarly work. The importance of research is highlighted in the months leading up to the tenure committee’s review, when the professor must provide a collection their research to be examined by a body of reviewers comprised of the departmental committee, objective reviewers from outside the College but in the same field and friendly reviewers who have previously worked with the professor.
Finally, the professor must consistently perform service to both their department and the broader academic community. This is usually done through participation in various projects and committees throughout the campus.
Upon successful completion of their evaluations, tenure was awarded to Assistant Professor of Anthropology and African-American Studies Chandra Bhimull, Assistant Professor of French Audrey Brunetaux, Assistant Professor of Global Studies Maple Razsa, Associate Professor of Art Tanya Sheehan, alongside Soto and Taylor. Each will add their own special touch to their department and contribute greatly to the community for years to come.
Taylor explained that as long as he kept doing his job, he would remain at Colby. However, he now has “the freedom to experiment and try something new.” Soto mentioned something similar, noting how professors “have to keep up a certain pace leading up to tenure, keeping it safe and doing a good job.” Both professors view tenure as an invitation to develop new and exciting research projects.

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