Promotion and Tenure Symposium seeks to 'demystify' process

October 19, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Some of Penn State’s most motivated graduate students, post-doctorate fellows, and doctoral candidates sat in the Mann Assembly room in the Paterno Library Oct. 16, absorbing the wisdom of the pre-tenure symposium speakers.

Administrators and faculty alike, from Executive Vice President and Provost Nick Jones and Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Blannie Bowen to Senior Faculty Mentor Keith Gilyard were on hand to network and answer questions about navigating the promotion and tenure process at Penn State.

“The symposium is a mechanism to raise awareness of what University resources are available for people in this process. It’s all about demystifying the process for faculty members and those who want to become faculty,” said Zuleima Karpyn, Commission for Women representative at the symposium.

She, along with representatives from the other two equity commissions at Penn State, the Commission for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Equity (CGLBTE) and the Commission for Racial/Ethnic Diversity (CORED) jointly planned the event to connect Penn State faculty with resources and administrators.

“Everyone wants to achieve the same thing, but how they get there is very different,” Kathy Bieschke from CGBLTE said. The symposium is there to help “level the playing field,” to give everyone in the University the same opportunities. In planning the event, she said that jointly, the commission representatives tried to make the advice as general as possible to be applicable to everyone in the University, across colleges and disciplines.

“I wish I had something like this when I started on the tenure track, to ask questions and find a mentor,” Bieschke said. "When I came to Penn State, there weren’t many women on the faculty, and it was very different.”

Bieschke is now the department head of educational psychology and special education.

“That’s why we put all this effort into bringing everyone in. We really want to communicate how important they are to Penn State. We want to say, ‘you’re important to us,’” she said.

The symposium was started back in 2006 by Wanda Knight as a CORED initiative, and she’s watched it grow and evolve since then.

“It’s worthwhile, and it’s working,” she said. “We’ve been talking about issues of diversity since the beginning, providing networking and mentoring, and perspectives from people who’ve already been successful."

Jamie Campbell, also of CORED, said that having the three commissions now working together on the event was beneficial.

“In our unity, we show a sense of community,” he said. “We also know just how much work is left to be done, and one of the ways to get there is by giving people a place to ask questions on a campus this large. That’s important.”

Last Updated October 19, 2015