Preparing Tenure Materials: Lessons Learned

Preparing Tenure Materials: Lessons Learned

As an academic librarian, I am on the tenure track. Over the summer, I had to prepare materials for my tenure portfolio to renew my contract for the next three years. In addition, I had to prepare the materials for my annual report. Many of my academic colleagues do the same for their dossier or portfolio, which are terms used to organize their scholarship. Many are trying to gather the materials needed. As I went through this process for the first time, I gleaned insight into keeping myself organized going further. This blog post overviews the lessons I learned going through the first phase of my tenure process.


Some people use a cloud-based storage system to store their documents. Personally, Google Drive is what I use to organize my professional work. I know that I need an updated vita, a reflective statement, application, letters of support, and supporting documentation for my renewal portfolio. Keeping my vita and the supporting documentation section of my Google folder up to date is essential. How I keep these necessary materials up to date will be discussed further in the blog post.

Schedule Time

The first lesson I learned while going through my first phase of tenure is to set time aside to input my professional development activity into our institution’s platform. My institution used a platform called Digital Measures, and now it is called Watermark. Every Friday, I block an hour in my calendar to input my weekly professional development activity. Scheduling this time has been helpful so that I don’t need to rush to input this into the system. Another tip is that I have created a spreadsheet with my professional development activity on it. On the spreadsheet, I have three sections: titled webinars/trainings, conferences, and courses. These sections include the activity’s title, date(s), links, and attendance time. Lastly, I set an hour a week aside to update my vita on Wednesdays.

Download & Upload Materials Right Away

The second lesson I learned is, when a presentation concludes, to download the slides that were a part of it as a PDF and then upload them to my supporting materials folder. This routine has been so helpful. I look forward to just dragging and dropping these items to the Watermark platform in two years. Since I know that the next time that I have to renew my contract will be in two years, I know that I won’t remember everything since I am so active professionally.

Ask Questions

My most important lesson is to ask questions about the process. Hopefully, there is a person or people you can go to that can assist you with your tenure process. Also, if you can get a mentor who understands the tenure process, that will be helpful. Some institutions will create this formal mentorship. Use this relationship to get clarification on the documentation that should discuss the tenure process. Just know that, if you keep on top of your work, you will thank your past self in the future when that deadline comes near. Getting your materials together can be stressful, so hopefully these tips can make it easier for you.

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