A junior faculty member has questions about the assessment of faculty on the tenure-track over the past year, particularly regarding how such faculty should, if at all, discuss how the challenges of the pandemic affected their progress.
Lots of junior folks are working on or will soon file our yearly progress reports (and in some cases, have meetings about them). How should we be thinking about the function of these documents and meetings, this year? Normally, these files and meetings are meant to work as incremental check-ins to ensure that we are on track toward earning tenure.
Obviously “normal progress” was impossible for most of us this year, whether or not we had children at home. Still, even when it’s true, it feels infelicitous to say something like “it took all my effort to stay on top of teaching/mentoring/supporting people more vulnerable than me, so I didn’t make much/any progress on the conferencing/publishing/etc. dimension this year” to someone who is probably juggling twice as much work. And of course junior academics are keenly aware of the importance of continuing to be viewed as productive, energetic scholars, and so are reasonably wary that being too honest about the difficulties of this past year will be damaging in the long term.
So… any thoughts on how to approach or think about what’s adequate progress vis-a-vis these kinds of reports, this year, compared to a normal year? What’s the bar for ‘good enough’? What’s a sign for concern? Does that even apply this year?
Your comments are welcome. In sharing your thoughts about these questions, it might also be useful to note whether your institution has made any official announcements or policy changes relevant to them.