advisees/tenure?

Valerie Cardenas Nicolson valerie at itsa.ucsf.edu
Mon Dec 2 19:44:52 EST 1996


cboake at utk.edu wrote:
> cannot recall a single discussion which involved consideration of the
> success of advisees, beyond the fact of getting them successfully through
> the degree process.  There are so many other indicators of academic

It is good to hear this from someone who has been on tenure committees.
My comment stems from a reappointment form I helped my adviser fill out
a couple of years ago, on which he had to list his recent former advisees
(graduate students or postdocs he had advised in the past 5 years) and 
the positions they were currently holding.  I assumed this information
was to be used as some measure of his success.

> or terrorize their students.  This lack of success in training does not
> correlate with their success in publication, funding, or progress up the
> academic ladder.

It may be true that a faculty member who has success with publication
and funding but not with advising graduate students may progress up 
the academic ladder.  However, I made my comment in response to
Sarah's posting which described a situation where a non-tenured
professor and her first graduate student (who was the top recruit
in her program) had a very messy divorce, when the top recruit
left with just a masters degree.  I don't know what Sarah's adviser's
funding situation was, but if this divorce occurred early in her
career, I suspect she didn't have a lot of money or a lot of
publications yet, and losing the top recruit would have hurt her
chances at tenure.  So what's left to do?  Make the grad student look
bad.  And it sounds like that's what happened.

I guess my point is that if a professor doesn't have an outstanding
publication record or funding record, my impression is that the 
success of her students can have an enormous impact on tenure decisions.
I know of two asst. professors at the University of California, 
Berkeley, who had little success with publishing or funding *but* 
had advised several Ph.D. students each, who all went on 
to good postdocs, asst. professorships, or positions in industry.  
Both professors were awarded tenure.  I can only assume that the
success of their students tipped the scales in their favor.

> I do agree with Valerie and several other posters that some faculty
> cannot accept that their students will not all have academic careers.

They want to start a dynasty, I think!  One of my dissertation committee
members can proudly trace his "lineage" to a very famous scientist
(my adviser was so-and-so, who was student to such-and-such, who was
student to very-famous-scientist).  

Valerie



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