I have one more post to make on this thread, which has taken me off onto a tangent, away from early Christianity per se and onto what it means to be a university professor at a research institution such as UNC.  That other post – hopefully tomorrow – will be about why tenure is absolutely essential for this kind of job, even if it is highly unusual anywhere else (unheard of, of course, in the business world).  But before then, I want to say one other thing about the tenure process, something that would not occur to most people and that in fact will be both surprising and, possibly, counter-intuitive.  It has to do with what “counts” as research.

Virtually every school on the planet will tell its assistant professors that there are three factors considered in evaluating a case for tenure:  research, teaching, and service.   The balance of those three factors, though, differs significantly from one school to another.  Some schools focus almost exclusively on teaching, so that research is not that big of a deal.   That *used* to be far more common than it is now: today, even at so-called “teaching” colleges, candidates for tenure are expected as well to be productive research scholars.  That’s not easy to do, if you’re in the classroom the whole time and/or establishing close relationships with your students outside of the classroom as well.  Some colleges have an “open door” policy, where professors are expected to be in their offices, with their doors open, welcoming students, whenever they are not actually teaching.  How someone like that can actually do any research is beyond me.

In colleges like that, though, even if teaching isn’t *everything*, it is the majority thing.   At most  major research universities, on the other hand, it’s not like that.  Most of the time, in those contexts, the candidate for tenure will be told that it is important to show strengths in either all three or in at least two of the three: research, teaching, and service.  But the reality is that it’s research.   The most affable, service-oriented, fantastic teacher in the world won’t get tenure without a demonstrated track record of research.

But what kind of research?   Here is what most people would not realize, or be expected to realize.   The research that counts for tenure is…