Deputy Director & Vice President for Research

Navigating the Tenure Track: A Handbook for the Scientific Staff

In 2000, at the request of a group of senior female scientists at the Institution, the Director set up a committee “to assess the status and equitable treatment” of women on the Scientific Staff at WHOI. The resulting Gender Equity Review Committee’s Report was delivered to the Director in March of 2000. After soliciting and receiving additional input from the WHOI community, the Director issued a formal response to the Report in February 2001, incorporating strategies and action items for each of the recommendations.

One of the recommendations related to mentoring and as a consequence, one of the resulting action items was to develop a handbook that would provide guidance to junior staff members on a wide range of topics relating to career development. A key ingredient for the success of both women and men is to have the best information possible when making decisions that impact their careers. It is recognized that the Institution has formal policies dictating the review process at each appointment and promotion level of the Scientific Staff. In addition to those policies, as in any institution or organization, there are common, but not uniform, practices that are important to understand in order to most effectively navigate through one’s career.

Navigating the Tenure Track is designed to provide guidance concerning those unwritten, informal practices. Because these practices are not policies and are not uniformly followed, observations of what frequently occurs can be helpful to junior staff members. In preparing this document, an initial draft was written and then sent to several reviewers for editing and com-ment. The five scientific departments and the Marine Policy Center were represented in the group of individuals reviewing the draft and all the individuals involved have experience with the processes, both personally and, in several instances, from an administrative perspective. Their input and editorial comments were critical to the process of developing this handbook.

Specifically, in addition to editing the final draft, Claire Reid and Judy McDowell initially drafted the sections dealing with Funding and Involvement in Education, respectively. Extensive editing of the initial draft document was performed by Mike Bacon, Amy Bower, Bill Curry, Becky Gast, Mark Hahn, Di Jin, Sonya Legg, Britt Raubenheimer, Debbie Smith, Meg Tivey, John Trowbridge, and Wenlu Zhu. Without all of their thoughtful, careful edits, it would have been impossible to bring this handbook to fruition. Their efforts are truly appreciated.

This handbook is not intended to and does not in any way change the policies that exist. The starting point for anyone who seeks to understand WHOI’s tenure and promotion processes is the policies themselves, primarily as set forth in the Appointment and Promotion Procedures Hand-book, also known as the “Blue Book” (so called because, prior to having an electronic version, for at least 25 years the contents were bound in a blue covered booklet). For example, references to term and tenure appointments and the promotion processes are more fully described in the Appointment and Promotion Procedures Handbook and that information is not reiterated herein.

Instead, this document is intended to provide information on how the processes typically unfold, to suggest approaches to the wide variety of options faced by junior staff and to aid in career development. In addition, because practices are unwritten and are the product of individ-ual experiences, they inevitably vary from department to department and situation to situation. Therefore, this handbook is not intended to be a commitment by the Institution concerning how the appointment and promotion processes will unfold in any individual case. Nevertheless, just as word-of-mouth information and advice can be helpful in general, even if differences occur in individual situations, the goal of this handbook is to provide information and advice that may not be apparent from the policies themselves.

Our goal is to amend and/or revise this handbook as new or additional topics are identified or as individuals have different or additional observations. Do not hesitate to contact me or one of the other resource people listed in section 8 if there is an area you feel needs expansion, further explanation or revision.

Karen P. Rauss
Ombuds/EEO Officer
December, 2001

Last updated: October 8, 2007