On June 7, 2013, Harvard Law Professor I. Glenn Cohen published a post at Prawfsblawg, online hub of the pro-scam law professoriate, entitled "How to Increase Your Risk of Not Getting Tenure." One helpful hint that I. Glenn offered to those junior faculty who actually crave tenure, in contrast to the ironic blog post title, is to avoid devoting too much time to service and teaching. I. Glenn estimated that 90% of the "promotion process" is based on an assessment of a law professor's "scholarship," rather than on his or her teaching and service, and recommended that junior faculty allocate their time with that figure in mind. To his credit, I. Glenn disapproved of this state of affairs, but indicated that he was simply being realistic.
I. Glenn stated, in relevant part, that:
"Every school says its promotion process is based on the triad of teaching, service, and scholarship. My experience is that for most schools it is 90% for scholarship and the remainder for the other two. Allocate your time appropriately. This is a sad and unfortunate truth, I think. It is partially a result of the fact that outside letters cannot and will not evaluate your teaching and service, and part a matter of thinking about your long term career – service in particular is a firm-specific investment, and if you leave your home institution (to lateral or due to denial of tenure) you don’t take it with you. If your dean calls on you to do significant service, you should ask for teaching relief (as my dean did and I did) to make sure you are not getting the short end of the stick.
In terms of teaching, most of us overinvest in teaching based on what the value is for tenure. I did/do, you will as well. I am happy I did it, but in part because I was able to produce enough scholarship at the same time. But you should recognize that every moment spent prepping, sadly, is a moment not spent on your scholarship. Some schools sometimes punish bad teaching during tenure, but far far fewer reward good teaching or at least in the proportion to the time spent to become an excellent teacher. Again, I am being cynical here but a realist; this is not the way I would like tenure to work, but I think it is the way it works right now in many institutions (as with all this advice you should try as much as possible to figure out what the climate is at your institution."The post was deleted a few hours after its debut. I am actually not crazy about always preserving e-statements that the declarant wishes to withdraw as imprudent or prone to being misunderstood. However, this post needs to be preserved. It was written by a tenured Harvard law professor, no less. And law students and the public may find its content to be instructive, given that their money is fueling the law school gravy train. Therefore, I am linking to the post as it still exists in yahoo cache. Also, I have converted it into pdf. (below).