Professors go through ranks at GV
From the fall of 2010 to 2012, the number of professors of all ranks at Grand Valley State University has jumped from 836 to 864. These different ranks of professors go through many processes and evaluations by the university in order to be on tenure-track and ultimately tenured.
Philip Baty of institutional analysis said that tenure stream faculty means that professors are full-time and eligible to achieve tenure.
“Tenure stream faculty expectations as full-time professors include scholarship and service to the university within their academic discipline,” Baty said.
Gayle Davis, provost of academic affairs at GVSU, said that professors receive tenure-track status after they have been at the university for six years.
“After a professor receives tenure then they have an ongoing contract,” Davis said. “Unless something terrible happens, like the professor became incapacitated or otherwise misbehaves, everyone has tenured after the first six years and goes through various titles.”
These different ranks for professors include assistant professor, associate professor, full professor, visiting professor and affiliate faculty.
An assistant professor is typically the first title that professors have when first being hired in at the university, and after the first six years, the professor’s application goes under review for tenure, as well as a promotion, Davis said.
Davis said that the next title up from assistant professor is associate professor, which is when faculty reviews a professor they believe is making good progress and has fulfilled the university’s expectations on service and scholarship.
The highest rank in professors is a full professor. This means that the professor has “obtained a level of excellence and criteria when getting a promotion, which is usually five to six years after being tenured,” Davis said.
“The first big chance for professors to move up their status levels is when a professor becomes an associate professor,” Davis said. “Once that happens they are out of their probationary period, and faculty may feel like they don’t need their contract reviewed in terms of job promotion.”
Other ranks of professors within the university include visiting and affiliate faculty, who don’t receive tenure. Davis said that a visiting professor is temporary and limited to teaching for three years as a visitor under normal curriculum, and that this helps their resume when they go on to look for their next job. The affiliate faculty member is unique to GVSU.
Figen Mekik, chair of the University Academic Senate and a regular faculty member in the geology department, said that the hiring process of professors is generally long and interviewing typically takes one to three days. She added the job candidate is usually asked to give a presentation on their scholarly work, and sometimes also asked to teach a class.
Mekik said that hiring decisions are made by individual departments, then subject to approval by the Dean of the respective college, and then the Provost and finally the Board of Trustees. Mekik has an active role in hiring Geology faculty.
“During the interview, the candidates generally interview with all or a number of faculty in the department where their discipline is housed, meet and chat with residents,” Mekik said. “While department plays a critical role in recommending whom to hire to the Dean, students are also generally asked their opinion, although it may not be a deciding factor.”
Mekik added that GVSU’s tenured faculty are at the top of their games and, though very diverse in opinion and attitudes, all cherish their roles as educators and like working with students, but being tenured doesn’t mean you have the freedom to not show up for work without an excuse.
For further information on the ranks of professors at GVSU and the hiring process, call the Provost’s office at (616) 331-2400.