Reception celebrates newly tenured faculty

Eight faculty members celebrated their new tenureship at the fifth annual newly tenured faculty reception on March 12.

The president of South Puget Sound Community College, previously tenured staff, administrators, and friends and family of the celebrated faculty came together to recognize the newly tenured Colleen Clukey, Ryan Fowler, Yvonne Fish, Rob Cherry, Corrie Martin, Neesha Patel, Jennifer Berney, and Seth Braver.

The reception is an annual tradition that immediately follows the Board of Trustees Meeting in which staff on probation for tenureship find out if they will be granted tenure by the Board of Trustee members.

The tenure process takes about three years to complete and is very intense, said Peter Punzi, who was granted tenure last year.

Once a faculty member starts the tenure-track they are assigned a committee to work with and get feedback from, they have regular student and peer evaluations, and trainings.

After three years, the Board of Trustees looks over all the records and decides who to keep on full time.

According to Board of Trustee member Barbara Clarkson, it’s important for staff on the tenure track to really consider and integrate the feedback they get from evaluations into their teaching.

Currently, SPSCC has 86 tenured faculty on staff, including those tenured in March.

The number of faculty eligible for tenure each year varies. It is driven largely by the number of faculty hired three years before. The number of faculty hired in a given year is driven by instructional need and college resources.

Unique to this year, three math faculty were awarded tenure, which is an unusually large number from any one department. This coincidence is a result of the college’s need for math faculty three years prior, said Dean of College Relations Kellie Braseth.

Developmental Math Professor Patel said she felt nervous going into the Board of Trustees Meeting, but she had a good feeling from her reviews and feedback that she would get tenured.

“Still it was very exciting and quite wonderful. Now I just feel satisfied and relieved,” she said.

Everyone is not always granted tenure, but this year all eight received tenure.

According to Punzi, being tenured has a certain status to it, “You feel more respected, and you have much greater job security.”

It’s a commitment from the college to the professor, he said.

Also from the developmental math department, Fish said she is very proud of the past three years.

“It’s been a great learning experience, and I’ve really grown as a teacher,” she said.

At the reception, Psychology Professor Rob Cherry said the evening will be one of those special moments in time he will remember for the rest of his life.

“Tenure is an important right for faculty to protect, because it guarantees quality education and intellectual freedom,” said tenured faculty member Annamary Fitzgerald.

Tenured faculty members have a union behind them to support their endeavors and their liberty, she said.

According to Braseth, tenure allows SPSCC to attract and maintain a stable core of faculty that students and the institution can depend on.

“Faculty can settle in and establish roots in the campus community and the community at large, and they can share in the important work of meeting the college’s mission,” she said.

The reception was held in the Lobby of the Center for the Arts. It was sponsored by the president’s staff, the Foundation, and AFT Local 4603 South Puget Sound Federation of Teachers.

SPSCC Board of Trustees member, Judith Blinn, said to the newly-tenured staff, “This is a wonderful opportunity for all of you and an exciting time. You’ll be awesome, we’ve made our selections carefully and spent a lot of time reviewing each faculty.”