Our department members work together to create an atmosphere of collaborative learning for all students – majors and non-majors. We hire faculty who share our interest in nurturing this community - in teaching at the undergraduate level, working closely with students, and doing research with undergraduate collaborators. As the Faculty Handbook makes clear, successful candidates for tenure will present strong records in three areas: teaching, research, and service.
Teaching undergraduates is the primary mission of our department. We are committed to working closely with our students, to being available during office hours, and to being actively engaged in thinking about pedagogy. A tenure candidate’s personal statement should include a thoughtful self-assessment about his/her success in these areas.
We will use information in the tenure file to judge a candidate’s teaching: the candidate’s personal statement, letters from students, and the College course evaluations. In addition, we will rely on the results of in-class visitations; it is expected that every voting member will have visited classes chosen by the candidate. We expect all sources of information to be consistent with one another. Should there be a substantial conflict, we will tend to weight the letters and our own observations more heavily than the course evaluations. Students writing after they have graduated will have more perspective than students preparing for final exams.
In reading course evaluations, we will pay more attention to the written comments than to the numerical summaries. Evaluation will also take into account the number of times a course has been taught and the difficulty of developing new courses. Development of new courses, especially of courses outside the faculty member’s primary field of expertise, will be considered positively.
A new faculty member will develop a successful research program. Although we embrace different models of scholarship, most faculty build an independent program of which they are Principal Investigator. An alternative successful model is a collaborative program with colleagues at other institutions. In either case, the goal is a vibrant program of research aimed at publication in professional journals. To support new members of the department so that they succeed in this endeavor, we advise faculty to wait until the third year to accept college service appointments, and offer guidance with grant writing.
It is difficult to define absolute quantitative measures of a vibrant program of research. The following criteria, however, offer a guide to the expected level of productivity in four important categories.
All members of the Physics department contribute to departmental discussions and decision-making. Tenure-track faculty will serve as advisors, and may choose to stand for election to college committees. We encourage junior faculty to volunteer for committee work in order to make connections with faculty from other areas of the College. However, we are supportive of the choice to postpone major committee service until after the tenure decision. Other forms of service include service to professional societies, refereeing articles for publication in professional journals, etc.
After tenure, members of the Physics Department are expected to continue as excellent teachers and productive scholars, and to contribute to the community with service both inside the department and for the general College community. A candidate for promotion to full professor will ordinarily serve in the rank of associate professor for a length of time that is stipulated by the current Faculty Handbook. The chair of the department will provide ongoing feedback during that period about the faculty member’s progress toward promotion. Our Handbook states that successful candidates for promotion will present strong records in three areas: teaching, research, and service. In this document we provide clarification about what defines a strong scholarly record in the Department of Physics. The teaching and service record will be evaluated using the guidelines specified in the Handbook.
Members of the Physics Department are expected to maintain scholarly activity after receiving tenure. The awarding of tenure signifies that the faculty member has succeeded in establishing a productive research program. After tenure, faculty members normally continue as independent researchers with their pre-tenure research program, and should maintain the pre-tenure publication rate. However, they may choose to switch fields, and a temporary slowing of publication rate often accompanies a change of direction. This is acceptable and should not discourage faculty from trying new ideas.
For promotion to full professor, faculty must continue to be active, productive, and visible scholars. There are many ways of demonstrating scholarly activity, including publishing original work in peer-reviewed journals, attending professional meetings to present current research, and submitting proposals for external support. Normally 2 or more peer-reviewed journal articles should result from work that occurs after the tenure decision. Successful candidates for promotion will continue to involve Hamilton students in research. Faculty must work with seniors on research projects as part of the senior program. When appropriate, seniors should be involved in the primary area of research. The department is committed to offering summer research opportunities to students and all senior faculty members should participate on a regular basis.
Although grant writing is not required for senior faculty, they are encouraged to seek external funding for laboratory equipment and operating costs when external awards help the productivity of the research program. While we recognize that a number of external factors influence the success of grant applications, awards strengthen the research record, as they indicate reviewers’ positive assessment of the applicant’s record as well as his/her proposed research project.