Over a three-year period, the team―including Lehigh site collaborators Jackie Krasas, professor of sociology and deputy provost for faculty affairs, Marci Levine, ADVANCE Center director, and Kristen Jellison, professor of civil and environmental engineering and ADVANCE Center faculty director―will investigate what drives tenure and promotion outcomes, with a particular focus on external review letters, and tenure clock extensions. Common for parents in academic settings, tenure clock extensions allow new parents an extra year before submitting their tenure portfolios. More recently, many universities, including Lehigh, have allowed for COVID-19 tenure clock extensions, providing faculty the opportunity to extend their mandatory tenure review years by one or two.
Very little scholarly research has been done to examine critical questions around external review letters, which are provided by arm’s length reviewers and a vital factor in determining tenure and promotion decisions. The team will extend social psychological theories of language use to diversity research. They posit that candidate and letter writer characteristics unrelated to candidate scholarly productivity shape the linguistic content and length of external review letters, thus introducing a source of bias into tenure and promotion processes.