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Negotiating tenure and promotion: An examination of legitimate scholarship productions, academic ambassadors and institutional dislocation of Latina /o professors in the midwest

Eduardo T Perez, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Recent investigations suggest university professors experience tenure and promotion processes differently. The focus of this study is to explore the processes of (de)legitimation in tenure and promotion. While academic settings define the normative standards for disciplinary excellence, university professors compete to generate socially and culturally approved scholarship productions. I interviewed twenty-three Latina/o professors located in twelve Research I Universities within seven Midwestern states. Suitable to meeting the needs of academe, I found that Latina/o professors experience tenure and promotion as “Academic Ambassadors.” ^ Latina/o professors perceived legitimate research productions to be contingent upon entrepreneurial and managerial market-like behaviors as Latina/o specialists, rather than specialists of their discipline. The (de)circulation of their research productions from mainstream peer-reviewed disciplinary journals resulted in negative cultural capital investments as defined by Bourdieu (1987; 1988) and others. Teaching responsibilities were perceived as generating positive cultural and social capital revenues in the attempt to diversify the departmental curriculum and increase minority student enrollment. Conversely, teaching lower level-undergraduate courses generated negative social and cultural capital as a result of creating “prep-courses” inconsistent with their training. Finally, service responsibilities reproduced negative social and cultural capital investments when participating in administering Latina/o Studies Programs (LPSs). This service work led to the construction of an “absentee scholar” status. At the departmental level, absentee scholars were perceived as a disinvestment in the collegial and network affiliations essential for tenure and promotion sponsorship. ^ Latina/o academicians perceived tenure and promotion to be based on differentials in academic expectations, and standards of excellence, based on race and gender status characteristics rather than professional identities. The findings from this study advance the need to redistribute the means of culturally valued research, teaching and service responsibilities to meet disciplinary standards for tenure and promotion. The current disciplinary discourse on the retention of minority faculty must be willing to address the fundamental need to diversify the disciplines' definition of legitimate knowledge productions for the reproduction of academic excellence. ^

Subject Area

Education, Sociology of|Education, Administration|Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Perez, Eduardo T, "Negotiating tenure and promotion: An examination of legitimate scholarship productions, academic ambassadors and institutional dislocation of Latina /o professors in the midwest" (2001). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3009732.