Today I received a very good letter in my campus mail: I’ve been reappointed to my position as assistant professor at Montgomery College, and I’m now on a “rolling” contract. This is very exciting news for me. It means that I have successfully completed my first four years as a probationary professor, and that the College regards me as a valuable asset. This isn’t tenure, but something like it.
Montgomery College no longer offers tenure — the permanent holding of an academic position — but instead gives rolling appointments, a contract renewed every six years. I know of only one professor at MC-Rockville that has tenure, acquired decades ago when it was still the preferred system. (She is brilliant and deserving of her position.)
I look forward to many years of service to MC and our students. However, a few days ago, my usual enthusiasm for my job was challenged when I did the unthinkable, something I almost never do, because I’m not the audience for it: I checked RateMyProfessors.com. There, among the many comments, and one chili pepper (for cuteness) was one post that read, “He’s the problem with tenure.” It’s always just one comment that stays with you, and that’s the comment that stuck with me. As I enter my rolling appointment, I will do my best to become the very reason tenure or something like it is given.