Forging a New DEI-Focused Track for Librarian Promotion and Tenure

American English
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A large, four-year institution recently approved an official promotion and tenure track for faculty focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion. All schools and academic units were tasked with developing new promotion and tenure standards in accordance with campus mandates and requirements but tailored to address the needs of specific disciplines and academic units. There were two main goals for this new track: 1) to formally recognize professional diversity, equity, and inclusion activities as a path for promotion and tenure with a focus on the professional narrative and incorporating new measures of success and impact including greater emphasis on community engagement, and 2) to develop a more holistic approach to reporting professional activities and achievements by uncoupling them, as much as possible, from the standard system of “binned” categories such as research, service, and performance). This poster outlines the work of a group of faculty librarians in developing these standards for librarian promotion and tenure. An ad hoc group of faculty librarians was formed by the campus Librarian Faculty Council with representatives from all the libraries on campus. Committee members came from many different points in the promotion and tenure process; from early career, pre-tenure librarians to those that had completely been through the process and even served on promotion and tenure groups and committees. The group went through several cycles of development of DEI promotion and tenure standards based on campus level documents and feedback from representatives to other DEI-focused campus groups, and of course, other faculty librarians. While the work was done with extensive input from various stakeholders at various levels, there was no finished archetype on which to base the final document. Additionally, campus level standards and expectations continued to develop and change throughout the process meaning the group was aiming for a moving target. Another major challenge was producing standards that were less prescribed and holistic to allow for greater freedom in the construction of candidates’ professional narratives; the recognition of DEI-focused professional activities; and the inclusion of novel metrics for demonstrating impact while still providing ample guidance and examples so that candidates would have enough guidance without feeling constrained. It was also critical for the librarian standards to match standards mandated at the campus level (often grounded in more traditional metrics and categories) while at the same time being more inclusive of DEI activities without giving DEI-track candidates the feeling that they were actually doing more work than other candidates presenting more traditional cases for promotion and tenure. It was also important to the committee to create a document that would be as easy as possible for mentors, reviewers, and members of the various promotion and tenure committees to use for guiding and evaluating candidates. The new standards were approved by library faculty in spring of 2022 and the first candidates for third-year reviews and promotion and tenure will begin utilizing them to construct their dossiers and narratives.

Presented at the Association of College and Research Libraries Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on March 16, 2023.
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