Better promote 'diversity,' 'inclusion' if you want tenure at this Ohio college

Along with "scholarly competence," faculty seeking tenure and promotion at Kenyon College are now advised to promote "diversity" and "inclusion."

Physics department chair Dr. Tom Giblin said “all we did was put down in writing what all of us wanted to do, anyway."

An Ohio college’s revamped criteria for evaluating tenure and promotion candidates, set to take effect on July 1, focuses on “diversity” and “inclusion.” 

In addition to more traditional criteria such as “scholarly competence and familiarity with current developments in one's field” and “timely, meticulous, and fair review and evaluation of student work,” the college’s revised tenure and promotion guidelines now include the stipulation that professors must demonstrate that they promote an "inclusive classroom environment" that “values diversity" and takes a “broad variety of backgrounds" into consideration when teaching, according to Education Dive.

This means that Kenyon professors who are up for tenure will now have to demonstrate not only their competence at instructing but also their efforts to promote both “diversity” and “inclusion” in the classroom.

Additionally, whereas professors’ engagement with the college community has traditionally been evaluated based on items such as meeting attendance and writing letters of recommendation, they will now also be judged based on their contribution to “programs that strengthen inclusivity, diversity or access to liberal education.”

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Not only have these new stipulations been added, but all the criteria have been edited with the same sentiments in mind. 

“Woven into each of these criteria is a commitment to fostering an open, respectful, supportive, accessible, and inclusive community of learners,” the guidelines explain.

“Kenyon is known for its excellent teaching and advising, and its faculty ha[s] long done valuable work in cultivating an inclusive learning environment that challenges students to expand their worldviews and engage with different perspectives,” Kenyon spokeswoman Mary Kiester told Campus Reform. “The September 2018 vote to update the criteria for evaluation recognizes the efforts that Kenyon faculty put forth in their teaching and advising and in fostering an inclusive community. The criteria had not been considered for revisions in nearly 20 years, and the new criteria reflects [sic] values the faculty, and the College, have long upheld.”

Kenyon physics department chair Dr. Tom Giblin commented on the change to Diverse.

“All we did was put down in writing what all of us wanted to do, anyway. So at the end of the day, it wasn’t controversial. It was really a wonderful thing to experience,” Giblin said. “You don’t get the opportunity to rethink these things a lot. What are our values now and where do we want our classrooms and scholarship to be?”

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“What we saw in the old guidelines was a lot of ambiguity about what it means to be an excellent teacher,” Giblin added. “We know what excellent teaching means, but the guidelines were not specific about those things and not reflecting the values of what it means to be an excellent teacher. Being explicit really helps to let the world know what we mean by excellent teaching.”

Kenyon president Dr. Sean Decatur told Diverse that the changes are evidence of the school “embracing in a deep and thorough way” the “principles and value of diversity and inclusion in the mission of the institution.”

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