The Secret Lives of Faculty: The Door to Tenure | Opensource.com

The Secret Lives of Faculty: The Door to Tenure

Posted 24 Aug 2010 by 

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It's taken me months to approach this article. It was going to be about the day-to-day life of tenure-track faculty. But, in the end, I can't write it. I've started this article a half-dozen times in the past few months, and writing about the day-to-day life of the faculty is not something I can do right now.

So, I'll do you one better: you're reading opensource.com. You have a reason for that... perhaps you've forgotten it was in your RSS reader, or perhaps you drink up everything here with a passion. Regardless, my guess is that you're a user of, advocate for, or contributor to open software or some kind of open community.

What do you want to know about the lives of faculty? More specifically, what questions do you have about the intersection between open source and higher education? I'll do my best to answer your question in the context of someone who is in the early stages of their career in higher ed.

To get you started, I've selected a few articles from around the 'net. They provide some context for what things are like for faculty in higher ed, but by no means do they tell the whole story.

Ask away, and I (and others in the community) will do our best to try and provide some perspective on what life is like for a member of the faculty in higher education.

I'll close this series with some thoughts about innovation in higher ed, and the challenges faculty face when trying to dive into integrating open source in their classrooms. (Or, I won't. We'll see where the muse strikes next...)

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1 Comments

mchua
Open Source Evangelist

Oh boy. I have a million questions, and should write them down and start posting them in comments on your articles. Right now, only a few coherent ones come out (it's been a long week).

From the first link you posted: "...I did not choose an academic life to “get tenure.” I went academic because I wanted to be around eager young people, mentor students, and conduct research on questions in which I had a burning interest. Nam’s advice was that if I do that then tenure should take care of itself." I agree with this motivation for entering academia - but how idealistic is Nam's advice? How important is tenure anyhow, and what options exist for those who want to be academics but don't think that the job security of tenure is important? What privileges (if any) are denied to those who take non-tenure-track positions, and would any of them affect a faculty member's ability to bring open source to their institutions?

As a faculty member, how can you make the contributions, relationships, networks, and general "karma" (to misuse the term somewhat) you build within an open source community you're working with count towards your professional evaluation?

What are the different factors that might make it easier or harder for a faculty member to bring open source participation into their classes? Pre-tenure vs post-tenure, large research institution vs small teaching institution, scholarly discipline - do those matter, or is it much more about individual background/FOSS-fluency/inclination/interest? (In other words, if I want to teach my students open source participation, what sort of institution and position should I seek as an academic, or does that choice not really matter?)

More later. :)

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Matt is passionate about the design and development of usable languages for embedded control. You can some of his work at concurrency.cc, a rallying point for parallel programming on the popular Arduino platform. However, most of the time Matt keeps himself busy as a member of the faculty at Berea College.

What is open education?