The Tenure Syllabus

Here’s a preview of what we’ll be covering this year in Tenure: The Secret Syllabus. The final list is subject to adjustment, but it should give a pretty good sense.

Because participants are joining the program at all different stages, we will NOT be proceeding in exact order. That is to say: I will be making tutorials available from across this syllabus, a little bit here and there. By the close of the program, however, this is what you can expect (along with many other posts, interviews, and hopefully a number of live online events, Covid and daycare permitting).

For those of you in the College or Grad programs, I have created dedicated overviews for you as well, to make things easier to navigate.

College: The Secret Syllabus [Syllabus Coming Soon, but posts already available on the homepage]
Grad School: The Secret Syllabus

(At the same time, I’ll continue to post a lot of material here on the home page.)

NOTE: Any tutorials below featuring a hyperlink mean that the tutorial is already online and ready to view!


Getting Published

  • Publishing 101: How the Process Works, Start to Finish
  • How and Where to Meet Editors and Publishers
  • “Simultaneous Submission”: What Is It, How to Do It, and Why It Matters
  • How to Write an Author Response Letter
  • Negotiating Better Book Contracts
  • What if a Press Rejects Your Book?
  • Edited Volumes and “Special Issues”
  • How to Interpret and Respond to Criticism


  • Don’t Launch that Shiny New Course!
  • Your Slides Suck: What Profs Can Learn from Graphic Designers
  • The Secret to Better Evaluations
  • How to Run Office Hours (Hint: Stop Calling Them “Office Hours”)
  • Course Evaluations are Biased (and We Should Our Students So)
  • Working with TAs Effectively
  • How to Treat Student Athletes with the Respect They Deserve

Mental Health

  • Where and When to Seek It Out
  • Leaves of Absence

The Minefield of Informality

  • Hallways, Lunches, Dinners…
  • First-Name Basis or “Dr. So-and-So”?
  • Mind Jobs and Tailspins: When a Passing Comment from a Senior Colleague Ruins Your Week (or Month)

Fellowships and Grants

  • Sabbatical Grants
  • Multi-Year Grants
  • Conference Grants
  • Small Grants
  • “Mid-Career” Grants and Fellowships: When’s the Earliest You Can Apply?
  • Residential Fellowships

Promoting Your Research (Sorry, But You Have To!)

  • Book Awards
  • Securing Blurbs
  • The “Author Questionnaire”
  • Social Media for Academics

Advising Students

  • Young Professor, Older Graduate Student: The Complex Dynamics of PhD Advising
  • Don’t Give No Advice: The Basics of Good Mentorship
  • Mentoring Students is the Hardest Job You’ll Ever Have
  • Welcome to “Letter of Recommendation Hell”
  • How to Help Your Students Find Their Thesis and Dissertation Questions


  • What is Reappointment Review?
  • Getting (and Interpreting) Feedback
  • Preparing Your Reappointment File


  • What Should Your Sabbatical Goals Be?
  • Where to Find Funding for Your Sabbatical?
  • Should You Do a Residential Fellowship?
  • Protecting Time and Getting S*** Done
  • Set Up an Effective “Sabbatical Out-of-Office” Email Autoresponder

Work-Life Balance

  • Childcare
  • Dating
  • How to Have a Social Life
  • How to Have a Secret Life
  • Parental Leave
  • Leaves of Absence
  • Activism: On and Beyond Campus

Department Meetings

  • How to Navigate Them
  • When and How to Speak Up


  • Preparing Your Tenure File
  • Who Will You Be Compared To (the “Comparison Set”)?
  • Should You Go Up Early for Tenure?
  • What If? What Happens If You’re Denied Tenure?
  • What Have You Done for Us Lately?: How Will Your Institution Count Work You Completed at Your Previous University?
  • Who Will Write Your “Outside Letters”

Applying for Jobs and Outside Offers

  • Should You Apply for an Outside Offer
  • When to Tell Colleagues (and Students) that You’ve Applied for Another Job
  • Retention Offers and How to Negotiate Them
  • How to Negotiate Contracts (without Losing Your Soul)


  • Honoraria: How Much to Expect for Giving an Invited Talk
  • Reviewing Articles and Manuscripts: How Much Will You Get Paid
  • Other Ways to Make Money on Campus
  • Keynotes: How Much (More) Do You Make for “Prestigious” Speaking Engagements?


  • How to Raise Money for Your Conference
  • Conference Organization 101

Climbing the Ladder

  • Becoming Chair
  • Treating Administrators and Office Staff with the Respect They Deserve
  • What Kind of Career Do You Want to Have?
  • Committee Assignments

The “Sophomore Album”: How to Launch Your Second Book or Major Project

  • Finding Mentors as a Mid-Career Scholar
  • False Starts, Assumptions, and Dead Ends
  • Becoming a “Scholar without a Project”

Tenure…. Now What?

What Will You Do with Your Newfound Safety?

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