How a professor earns tenure — the holy grail of teaching


by Temesha Derby, Special to The Simpsonian

INDIANOLA, Iowa — At Simpson, professors are more than just a piece of the puzzle.

Senior Vice President Kent Eaton describes them as educators, scholars and service leaders. Professors are awarded tenure based on these three elements, the most important being teaching.

“Tenure serves as a way to ensure academic freedom for professors so that someone cannot be at odds with his/her position for dismissal,” Eaton said.

It is a way to allow professors stability in their jobs and put down roots at their institution without the fear of being let go for inappropriate or unjustifiable reasons.

A professor’s position must be tenure track, which is a six-year track plan, and is evaluated annually. The third and fourth years of tenure is most crucial for determining a professor’s success and progress and evaluating if a professor will make it through the tenure.

Aside from teaching, a professor must focus on scholarship and service. For scholarship, advancement beyond the field must be made and for service, professors must serve the college community and beyond.

“We want our professors to grow by learning the art of teaching and becoming excellent educators,” Eaton said.

As for state schools, Eaton said they also have tenure programs in place. Whereas Simpson’s primary focus is teaching the students, state schools may have a different primary focus such as research. For large state schools, fulfilling the research requirement allows them to receive more grant money.

“We pride ourselves in teaching our students and making sure these tenure policies are in place to do so,” Eaton said.