View from the other side of the desk

David Lapakko, Dept. of Communication Studies, Film, and New Media

Although you might think that something like 90 percent of a professor’s career success is due to their teaching, you’d be wrong. In reality, it’s more like 33 percent because full-time tenure-track faculty must be mindful of what’s often referred to as the “three-legged stool,” which includes: (a) teaching, (b) scholarship and (c) service.

All three legs of the stool are regarded as essential to keeping one’s job.

     Take it in: even if you’re the greatest teacher on the planet, you won’t get tenure at Augsburg or most other universities if you don’t have some significant scholarship. Convention papers. Journal articles. Textbooks. Original research projects. And (surprise, surprise) that work often interferes with the daily demands of teaching.

   But even teaching and scholarship are not enough. You must also provide service to the

Institution — for example, advising students, being on the Faculty Senate, participating in department meetings, committee meetings, meetings of the full faculty, in-house workshops and special events. And guess what? Those things can take up valuable time as well if teaching is your passion.

    I have spent four years on the faculty committee that makes recommendations to the Provost about who should or shouldn’t get tenure or be promoted. And as much as students might like to think that it’s all about teaching, it’s not. It probably starts there, but if a candidate hasn’t been doing scholarship or providing meaningful service, they are toast. The next time one of your instructors might seem to be a little stressed and distracted, keep that in mind. Just like you, we have to wear many hats.

This article first appeared in the Friday, October 12 edition of The Echo.