Swimming with teddy bears and sharks: Changes to a tenure, promotion, and merit award system within resistant institutional structures and interests.
Keywords:tenure and promotion, merit, policy analysis, equity and inclusion, autonomy , metrics
In 2017 the Faculty of Education (FoE) at Simon Fraser University engaged in a research-based review of its Faculty Tenure and Promotion (FTP) guidelines in an effort to better understand the scope of scholarship, teaching, and service within the faculty; to provide recommendations for how the quality of scholarship, teaching, and service might best be evaluated; and to better define the evidence that faculty members might provide the Faculty Tenure and Promotion Committee (FTPC) for assessing each of these components of academic work. This paper offers an account of the changes made—which were specific to our faculty but involved elements common in other faculties and at other universities—and the various personal and institutional constraints at play throughout the process. We highlight three different scales at which we worked that relate to issues of equity and inclusion, personal autonomy and self-motivation, and the fantasy of the objectivity of numbers. Since we have come to see the institution as the resistant milieu and therefore our work as challenging institutional structures and norms, we frame our process in terms of multiple acts of refusal. We show how these acts relate to an integrated model of policy analysis and explore our continuing efforts to implement these changes to advance principles of equity, inclusion, and diversity in our faculty and in our work. While the story is told by the four authors of this paper, we are representing the important work done by a broader team of seven who engaged in this work.
 While the four authors of this paper took responsibility for telling this story as we feel we lived it, the credit for the work accomplished over the course of this journey goes to all members of the committee, who have also had a chance to review and contribute to this article (listed alphabetically): Pooja Dharamshi, Lynn Fels, Huamei Han, Dan Laitsch, Michael Ling, Michelle Pidgeon, and Nathalie Sinclair.