Walking the Plank
Junior Faculty at Harvard are in a precarious position at best. The basic tenet that "to receive a promotion from assistant to associate professor at Harvard one must be tenurable at any major university" creates a situation in which departments are often reluctant to let their own junior Faculty move one rung up the tenure ladder.
The History Department this year was one--but by no means the only--case in point. Over a period of about two months in early winter, the department told Mangol Bayat, David E. Kaiser '69, Mary F. Nolan and Thomas Philipp, assistant professor of History, that they would not be promoted to the position of associate professor and that their contracts would not be renewed.
The department promoted Frederick Cooper, assistant professor of History, to the position of associate professor. Cooper and the four denied tenure--not to mention some confused students--criticized the department for not publicizing clear criteria for promotion.
Peter Dale, assistant professor of English and American Literature and senior tutor at Adams House, started looking for a new job nearly a year and a half ago after David D. Perkins '51, chairman of the English department, told Dale that he--like every other junior Faculty member in English for the last 15 years--would probably not receive tenure in the department. Dale found a job as an assistant professor at the University of California at Davis, where he is virtually guaranteed a tenured spot.
James E. Richardson, assistant professor of English, was in about the same position as Dale, and he decided to leave Harvard this year to direct a creative writing program at Princeton University.