Welcome to our faculty. We have recently changed our titling norms to more accurately reflect how you will allocate your time.
We will conduct the merit review process approximately seventeen days after your first day on contract, so make those days productive. Merit reviews generally turn into a friendly departmental competition in which faculty try to one-up each other by submitting everything from peer-reviewed journal articles to dramatic retellings of that one time they helped a lost freshman, to thank you notes from students who intended those notes to be kept private. The goal is to place in the top category for merit pay that year, a range that could be anything from zero to upwards of seventy-five dollars per academic semester. There is no actual money available for merit this year, but we will still conduct the reviews. The merit is symbolic.
In December, we will issue student evaluations via email, which students do not check. You will probably get a response rate of 4 to 10 percent, which we’ll consider statistically valid for evaluating your teaching.
In January, we will conduct annual reviews. The annual reviews are basically a redo of the merit reviews, except that there’s no positive incentive at all (not even a symbolic one). You can lose your job for getting a poor annual review, but there’s no way you can gain anything from it. If you absolutely kill it in your annual review, you get to keep the same job you already have for no more money or recognition. The only change is that you’ll need to double down on research and writing the following month to make up for all the hours you lost prepping for your annual review.
Once you have been here for six years and received six glowing annual reviews and three glowing (but non-compensatory) merit reviews, you may apply for tenure. The tenure process is harrowing, punitive, predatory, and generally demoralizing — if you’re successful. If you don’t get tenure, your academic career is over, and you will be publicly stoned to death in the quad between the library and the student union.
After you have achieved tenure and received ten glowing annual reviews, five glowing (but non-compensatory) merit reviews, and four glowing make-believe post-tenure reviews, you may apply for Full Professor, the Holy Grail of academic positions.
Achieving Full Professor means you’ve “made it.” You will hold the highest rank in your institution and be considered a player in the national academic field. You will probably have at least one hard-bound book on your shelf that displays your name on the spine, and you can say and do almost anything without getting fired (unless the university needs to free up funding by killing your whole department and/or a bunch of other totally possible scenarios). The real prize, though, is the raise, which will bring you up to almost 50 percent of the salary of an entry-level lawyer in New York City or nearly equal to the salary of a thirty-year-old middle manager in a bank.
Oh, and you will also be teaching.