Category Archives: Professionalization

Healing in the Flights of Uncertainty

“To be healed we must be dismembered, pulled apart. The healing occurs in disintegration, in the demotion of the ego as the self’s only authority.”  — Gloria Anzaldúa, Light in the Dark (2015)

By Erika G. Abad

On giving my class assignments at my new job, I decided to teach Light in the Dark, because in returning to the West Coast, Xicana feminist thought felt necessary. It was also, as I told students, a selfish way to share my love for Anzaldúa. Within months of teaching it, my supervisor invites me to El Mundo Zurdo Conference. I agree on a whim, excited about the possibility to learn more from other scholars who appreciate what Anzaldúa contributes to critical consciousness. Deciding to go, somehow, feels like coming full circle from the years of dismembering to heal that had taken place not only in the years I spent on the periphery of the ivory tower and the culture of academic teaching and research. The process of buying the ticket, of relying on university colleagues to share resources with me to be able to afford the trip, contrasts to the uncertainty and wounded pride/integrity with which I grappled in 2008. Continue reading

Unveiling the Secret to Tenure Expectations

picture of Tanya Golash-Boza

Professor Tanya Golash-Boza

Tanya Golash-Boza (2015 Mujeres Talk Contributing Blogger)

Imagine this: Your first year on the tenure-track, you sit down with your department chair and ask him what the expectations for tenure are. He hands you a written document that indicates that you have to publish six articles, and that you must be first author on at least four. He provides you with a list of acceptable journals and makes it clear that this is the hurdle you have to cross for tenure. You meet with other senior colleagues in your department and across the university, and everyone agrees on the research component of the tenure expectations. You know exactly what you need to do and the only thing left to figure out is how to do it.

This situation, for better or for worse, is remarkably uncommon. Most new faculty members are never told exactly what they need for tenure. Senior colleagues are reluctant to give an exact number of how many articles you need to publish, whether you need articles in addition to a book, which journals are considered important, whether or not you need a major grant, and whether or not book reviews, conference presentations, and book chapters in edited volumes count for anything. Your senior colleagues are most likely to tell you that the tenure expectations are individualized and that a wide variety of portfolios can make an excellent tenure case. They will likely tell you that they are looking for a research profile that demonstrates excellence and an upward trajectory.

As a new faculty member at a research institution, I found this very frustrating. I thought to myself: why can’t they just tell me what I need to do so that I can do it? If you are in this sort of situation, where you are not clear on what the expectations are, one thing is certain: it is in your interest to find out anyway. How do you do that?

It turns out that there are a number of ways for you to figure out what a solid tenure case would look like. You just need to approach this as you would any other research project: ask around, investigate, and look at a variety of cases. Here are four strategies for you to figure out what your research portfolio should look like.

A pen resting on top of an open journal with writing faintly apparent.

On the importance of asking for clarity regarding tenure expectations. Photo by Sebastien Wiertz. CC BY 2.0

  • Ask around at your institution. In your first semester, you should meet with your department chair and with your faculty mentor. Ask both of them to give you advice on what the publication expectations are. They might be vague, but they will communicate something to you. You also can ask other colleagues around the institution, especially if you can find people who have served on the campus Promotion and Tenure committees.
  • Look at the CVs of people recently promoted in your department. If there is anyone who has been promoted in the past five years in your department, you should look at their CV and figure out what they needed to get tenure. Tenure expectations are a moving target, so the more recent candidates are a better comparison case than your older colleagues. You may even be able to ask recently tenured colleagues to share their tenure materials with you so that you can see exactly how they put their case together.
  • Look at the CVs of people recently promoted at other comparable institutions. Most departments post their faculty members’ CVs online. And, since promotion and tenure require updating the CV, most recently tenured faculty have updated CVs online. Look at several CVs of people who were recently tenured in your field and figure out what they had that allowed them to make a compelling tenure case. If no one has been tenured recently in your own department, this strategy can be particularly helpful.
  • Develop your own expectations, and share them with a trusted mentor. After you have compiled all of this information, use it to make explicit expectations for yourself. Suppose, after this research, you determine that you would need a book published at a university press, two single-authored articles in top tier peer-reviewed journals, one co-authored peer-reviewed articles, and at least six conference presentations. Take this information back to your department chair and your mentor and ask them if that would make a reasonable tenure case in your department. Tell them that you have set these goals for yourself, and that you would like their feedback on your goals. Their responses should be enlightening.

This last step is very important. Senior faculty are often reluctant to tell you exactly what you need because they don’t want to be wrong, but also because they do not want you to limit your options. If, however, you decide for yourself what your goals are and make it clear that you want their feedback, they likely will be willing to provide it.

The quest for tenure can be stressful, and the lack of clear expectations makes it more so. Figuring out what the expectations are yourself can be one step towards achieving clarity for yourself, and, in the process, to relieving some of the stress.

Tanya Golash-Boza is a Mujeres Talk 2015 Contributing Blogger. Her academic blog site, Get a Life, PhD, has been online since 2010 and offers “how to” advice for college professors on topics such as how to write a book proposal, revise an academic article, or organize work time in a semester. Dr. Tanya Golash-Boza also leads two other academic blog sites, Social Scientists for Comprehensive Immigration Reform and Are We There Yet? World Travels with Three Kids. An Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of California Merced, Golash-Boza is the author of four books: Due Process Denied (2012), Immigration Nation (2012), Yo Soy Negro: Blackness in Peru (2011), and Race and Racisms: A Critical Approach (2014). She has also written for Al Jazeera, The Nation, and Counterpunch. She has  a new book out in December: Deported: Immigrant Policing, Disposable Labor and Global Capitalism.

Writing for Mujeres Talk

by the Editorial Group

As an online venue dedicated to the publication of Latina, Chicana, and Native American Studies research, commentary, and creative work that is widely accessible to both specialist and non-specialist audiences, we’ve often been asked by potential authors to provide guidelines on how to write for this site. In answer to this request, we’d like to share our experience in writing and editing for this site, and provide a guide for authors.

The Academic Journal Article

Throughout one’s career, academics receive extensive training in how to write a scholarly article for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. That training begins with the assignment of the seminar paper in a graduate course and workshops on publishing in graduate school. As a new professor, one receives further training in the form of workshops, mentorship from senior faculty, actual peer review feedback on submissions, participation in peer reviewing the work of others, and the ongoing reading of academic journals and volumes. Through this process, one learns how to craft a publishable academic journal article appropriate to a specific field. As should be apparent, this doesn’t happen overnight. There is a learning curve. For this reason, we at Mujeres Talk are not surprised when we occasionally hear back from a potential author who we’ve invited to submit that, “I don’t know how to write in that format,” or “I don’t have time to learn how to do that.” The working conditions in higher education have, indeed, changed significantly, and it’s no surprise that many academics barely have time to do what is expected and required of them for their regular appointments, let alone a kind of writing that may have more limited impact on tenure and promotion than traditional forms of scholarly publication (books, journal articles).

The Online Academic Essay: Actual Experience

Yet, academics and non-academics alike do write for Mujeres Talk, and for a variety of reasons, including:

·      To make Latina and Native American Studies contributions to media and public policy discussions

·      Interest in online dialogue on topics of importance to academic and non-academic audiences

·      Contribute to public discussion of humanities, and research in ethnic studies

·      Promotion of a recent publication or film

·      Opportunity to analyze current events

·      Widely share “how-to” information and guidance

·      Interest in collaborating with others in co-authored pieces

·      Provide mentorship and support to Latinas and Native American women in academia

·      Report on events, conferences, lectures

·      Engage students in interactive assignments.

These wide-ranging reasons for interest in our site has meant that Mujeres Talk has published several different types of short essay – “Dichos” or advice for academics; commentary on current events; personal reflections on research, community work, or current events; research in brief; biographic profiles; analyses of film or literature; and book reviews. We’ve also published three different kinds of multimedia artifacts: slide shows, graphic book; and short video. Three of our authors have used Mujeres Talk for class assignments. In one case, faculty author Ella Diaz wrote about the visit of artist Ana Teresa Fernandez to her school and assigned students to comment on their engagement with this artist and her art. In another instance, faculty author Brenda Sendejo collaborated with students in her Latina/o and Latin American Spiritualities course to co-write a piece on identity, social justice, and spirituality. In a third example, faculty author Theresa Delgadillo wrote an essay on Latinas/os in a popular television program that she also assigned her class to write, and then invited the class to engage in online dialogue on their shared assignment.

Essays that first appeared on Mujeres Talk have been republished on sites such as Share INC/Domestic Violence, Texas Ed Equity, and Puerto Rico Today. Our modified form of peer review has been cited by the US Intellectual History website. And we have collaborated in simultaneous posts with the websites HASTAC, La Bloga, and Somebody’s Children. We do not keep count of the thousands of spams and random hits the site receives, but we do track the number of page views/reads for each new post, and these have steadily climbed and now range between 400 and 1000 per post. Our subscriber list has grown to 194. Anyone can comment on our site, and we’ve received multiple comments from across the country on posts. We notify our growing list of followers on Facebook and Twitter of new posts, as well as related news. Since 2011, we have published 121 essays or multimedia presentations on this site.

Benefits of Writing for Mujeres Talk or Another Online Venue

Both academic and community authors who have contributed to our site have recognized multiple benefits from this experience, including:

·      Learning how to write for online media

·      Publicizing one’s expertise

·      Enhancing one’s online research profile or that of one’s program, department, or school so that others interested in areas you research can easily find you

·      Getting early feedback on work-in-progress.

Authors retain the copyright to the work they publish on Mujeres Talk and, with citation, may reproduce their short form research or online essay in longer journal articles or scholarly manuscripts on their research, or in other kinds of print or online publications.

Tips for Writing for Mujeres Talk

For authors interested in multimedia submissions, we encourage you to research readily available software for making short videos, graphic books, and slide shows to share. For those of you interested in learning how to write the kind of short essay we usually publish, we offer the following tips and questions as a guide:

·      Our upper word limit is 1500, and that means you can only say one or two things well. Your topic can be big, but your insight must be focused.

·      Imagine your audience. Who are you writing to? Is it a group of close colleagues? A public lecture open to anyone at your university? A conference-like gathering of people in your field? Be sure your essay addresses that audience. And then remember that your friend brought along some folks who would also like to understand your work, so make sure a non-specialist can follow it.

·      Write yourself into the essay, making apparent your investment, interest, and/or personal experience with the topic. This is especially important if you are writing a personal reflection or personally inflected commentary. It might be important if you are writing a review, but this advice is less likely to apply to essays that present research in brief.

·      Be generous to other Latina/o and Native American scholars and students.

·      Pose a question in your essay. This is a good way to invite readers in to dialogue.

·      Provide citations, references, shout-outs, and links where appropriate.

·      Save some good stuff for the peer review journal article that will carry greater weight in tenure and promotion.

If you’re interested in writing commentary about a current event or reporting on a lecture, conference, or concert, you might begin a draft of your essay by jotting down some short answers to these questions:

·      What event are you interested in writing about?

·      Why is this event important to Mujeres Talk audiences?

·      Do you want readers to do something about this current event or do you want them to know something about this event? If you answer “do something” explain what and provide links. If you answer “know something” explain what, and include citations.

·      If there is currently public discussion about this event, what are the views currently circulating? How is yours different?

·      How did you become interested in this event? What personal experience do you have with this event?

If you’re interested in writing research in brief, consider which piece of your ongoing, original research you want to publish in this format. Like academic journals, we seek unpublished, original work. Unlike academic journals, we only publish in short format. Keeping that distinction in mind, consider writing about a concept in your research, or how that concept has been critically regarded, or one example of the kind of analysis you are engaging, or a small piece of your findings. The short form research essay will not be as extensive or as complete as the academic journal article, but it does need to be as rigorous and engaging as any more extended work.

Since this is a distillation of our experience, we thank all the women who have ever served on the  Editorial Group of Mujeres Talk and all the authors who have published on this site. A special thank you to Diana Rivera of Michigan State University who recently completed a one year term on our Editorial Group for her wise advice and guidance in creating mechanisms to ensure the continued success of the site.

Reports from “Imagining Latina/o Studies: Past, Present, and Future”

“Imagining Latina/o Studies”: Perspectives on the First International Latina/o Studies Initiative Conference

It’s not everyday that new professional and academic organizations are formed. That’s why the decision to join together in a new association, made by over 500 scholars gathered in Chicago for the “Imagining Latina/o Studies: Past, Present, and Future” Conference on July 17, 2014, was a historic moment. As the Program Committee, composed of leading scholars in multiple fields from all regions of the country, stated in the program:

With this conference we hope to spotlight the dynamic work being carried out in a range of disciplines with a particular focus on the interdisciplinary impulse that shapes and motivates work produced under the banner of Latina/o Studies. We recognize the decades-long history and crucial work of national-origin studies, such as Chicana/o Studies and Puerto Rican Studies, from which many of us have emerged; and we further ask how might we conceptualize the field so that it reflects the complex histories, social formations, and cultural production of Latinas/os even while seeking to imagine a larger sense of belonging that might transcend nationalisms?

Fourteen sessions, with eight to ten panels in each session, took place over the three days of this gathering, providing a wealth of rigorous and creative scholarship as well as insights on pedagogy in this interdisciplinary field. The growing establishment of Latina/o Studies Departments in colleges and universities across the country was evident at the gathering, as well as valuable regional networks of Latina/o Studies scholars in many parts of the country. Another indication of the significance of this professional gathering was the participation of eleven academic presses and four academic journals in the book exhibit. Eighteen (18) of the forty-one (41) ads in the program booklet were from Latina/o Studies Departments, programs, journals and presses based in the Midwest, representing a significant new trend in the field. Conference organizers allowed all participants to join in the work of creating a new association by scheduling business meetings over the lunch period. Participants either picked up something to go or took advantage of a limited number of conference free lunches and joined in the business discussions, voting to form a new association, discussing possible names for the new group, deciding on an initial leadership and governance structure, and establishing a Coordinating Committee to guide the next steps. The new Coordinating Committee includes: Elena Machado, Carmen Lamas, Deb Vargas, Raúl Coronado, and Isabel Porras. Along with Frances Aparicio and Lourdes Torres, who will not continue on the Coordinating Committee, this group worked together to organize the events.  Included here are some of the comments and observations of those who participated in the conference. The colorful notes/doodles on conference sessions of Brian Herrera, in Theater at Princeton University – used with his permission — also provide additional commentary here.

From Adriana Estill, English, Carleton College, Minnesota

On Thursday morning, July 17, 2014, I was one of “those people” — the members of the audience in a conference session that get thanked because they came out so early. (In this case at 8:00 a.m.) But on that Thursday morning, “those people” were out in droves. The excitement was palpable at the session “Latina/o Representation in Mass Media and Popular Culture,” not only because the papers were riveting and engaging, but because we knew — I knew — that this was a historic moment. The energy at the Palmer Hotel in Chicago was unflagging, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. Even our business meetings occupied a crowded Empire ballroom. Things that I deeply appreciated about the inaugural conference of a new Latina/o Studies Association:

  • feeling like I was “at home,” that people could understand the basic motivation for my work and that, maybe more importantly, they saw me;
  • hearing exciting new ideas insistently framed in relation to past Latin@, Chican@ and Puertorriqueñ@ scholarship. There was no amnesia here;
  • the sense of empowerment. Here, in this space (unlike at my home institution), it felt like our ideas, our curricula, our Latina/o Studies initiatives, and our scholarship could, should, and can matter. Part of this feeling stemmed from hearing about the amazing work that colleagues are doing, but part came from feeling heard in a number of different arenas.

Things that I hope we’ll work on in this new organization:

  • I saw the photo of our amazing conference organizers recently. Out of 10 (?) people, only one was cisgender male. I’d like to make sure that service to our association doesn’t fall primarily on cisgender female shoulders, given historical imbalances in that arena.
  • In that vein, a number of sessions that I attended that had “feminism” or “Latina” as one of the organizing rationale drew mainly cisgender women. Two thoughts: men involved in Latin@ studies should care about these issues; are we thinking deeply about masculinities?

Last but not least, a number of scholars used twitter at this conference, mainly to help get out the word on the sessions they attended. It was exciting to watch the ideas circulate not just in the rooms they were uttered, but out in “the open,” ready to be engaged by wider publics. And Iván Chaar López has archived our #LSCHI2014 in order to preserve those conversations for the archives.

From Luz Baez, M.A., Studies of the Americas, CUNY/City College of New York

First, I congratulate the Conference organizers for coordinating, what was in my estimation, a very successful event. Each panelist was distinguished and presented research in their field of study passionately and eloquently. It was enlightening to hear about the research each is conducting in their field.  There were several that resonated loudly and peak further interest in the subject matter, specifically how the construct of race has evolved and developed in a different space as Latina/os migrate to the South specifically Alabama, Mississippi and Florida; how inequality in media representation distorts the Latino/a image, and creates identity confusion and economic disparities; and, finally, the impact that the Treyvon Martin and George Zimmerman case had on the Latino/a community.  The benefits I received from attending the conference are countless and will further assist me in the development of my research.  Thanks again to the Organizers.  I look forward to the next Latino/a Studies Conference.

From Diana Rivera, Librarian and Archivist, Michigan State University

I attended the Latino Studies Conference in Chicago from July 17 to July 19, 2014.  It was the launching of the Latina/o Studies Association; an idea discussed throughout the previous year at national-origin studies conferences (whose focus are Latin American Studies, Puerto Rican Studies and Chicana and Chicano Studies) and the American Studies Association, the Modern Language Association, the Organization of American Historians and the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage conferences.  The new organization will meet biennially and discuss the shifting landscape of Latina/os (including Chicana/os) in the humanities, social sciences and professional schools. My presentation, in a roundtable/workshop on Mujeres Talk, discussed Chicana and Latina blogs generally, and the work I have done as an associate editor of Mujeres Talk, which is a unique format with a two-editor review of submitted and solicited posts.  Ohio State University Libraries is the hosting institution for the blog. Sessions I attended included:

  • Latina/o Representation in Mass Media and Popular Culture
  • Roundtable on Latina/o History in the American Midwest
  • Roundtable on Libraries, Institutional Pressures and Cultural Politics
  • Latin@ in the Upper Midwest and Canada
  • Printing Latinidad: The Power of Paper in Latina/o Art
  • Roundtable – La Bloga Contributors in Person: Talk about Blogging, Writing, Publishing
  • Theorizing an Alternative Ethos of Preservation: Land, Space and Place in Latina/o Literature and Culture
  • Roundtable – Archive as Social Practice, Contestation, Queer Gesture, and Chisme

Librarians from Stanford University, UC San Diego and I moved a motion forward to have librarians as part of the executive leadership structure of the new organization to educate, improve and establish a continued library/archives use among the new faculty entering the ranks of academia. It was a conversation that was well received.

To reach the Coordinating Committee for a new Latina/o Studies Association use the Contact Form on their website, or look up “Latina/o Studies Initiative” on Facebook. 

Dichos for Summer Research

by Theresa Delgadillo

For many years, members of my family often referred to my summer schedule as my “time off” or my “long summer vacation” in contrast to their one or two weeks. As the working-class daughter of working-class parents, I understand well the fascination and misunderstanding with which many view the summer life of academics. I’ve also spent many a hot summer working in a factory, mill or sweatshop or in what seemed like a hermetically sealed over-air conditioned office. From that perspective, an academic summer schedule looks pretty good. Yet, if you’re on the tenure-track or trying to get on the tenure-track, summer is definitely not playtime. It’s precious research and writing time. Here are a few notes to remind you that even though it may seem like campus is deserted or, if you’re teaching this summer, like the school year never ends, that there are many, many people, just like you, trying to get as much research and writing in over the summer as possible. Because we know that the readers of Mujeres Talk have a wealth of knowledge to offer us all, we wish you well in that work. In recognition of this seasonal shift in our collective work rhythms, Mujeres Talk will change from a weekly to a biweekly publication schedule in July and August. We will return to a weekly publication schedule in September.

“Cada maestrillo/a tiene su librillo.”

We each do things in our own way, so stick to what works for you. If you don’t know what your process is for getting to the writing and research, think back on how you’ve done it. Are you the kind of writer/researcher who needs to finish up all obligations to others (service, reviewing, reports, letters) before you can concentrate on your project? If so, create a reasonable schedule for clearing your desk of writing and work you owe others. Would making a map or list of what you’d like to accomplish this summer help you to achieve it? If so, consider penciling in some timelines or due dates for parts of the project. Do you know that support is essential to keeping you on track? Find writing/research partners. A colleague recently told me about her “writing accountability” group where everyone reports on their daily writing accomplishments. Another colleague is now away at the second two-day writer’s retreat with peers that she has organized already this summer. Do you need to have the physical stacks of books related to each piece of writing/research visible on your desk to keep you on track and moving through it? A visit to the library will get you started. Will working at the office or at home or some other third location make writing possible? I’ll never forget the poet Annie Dillard’s description of her choice of workplace and time: a deserted library in the wee hours, equipped with thermos and writing instruments.

“El comer y el rascar, todo es empezar.”

Even the shortest piece of writing, or note-taking or reading is a start, and we all have to start somewhere. Start. Begin. Are you going to start generating new text? Are you going to start revising and editing? Are you going to start by reviewing your field notes, or feedback you received at a conference or workshop? Are you going to start by reading and note-taking? Are you going to start by creating questions and goals for fieldwork? Do you need to begin interviewing or analyzing data? If starting is hard, set a shorter time period for beginning on first day and then add to it everyday until you get to your optimal working hours. Write down, every day, a short note on what you accomplished for that day. Once you really get going, it may be difficult to tear yourself away from your work.

“Más vale maña que fuerza.”

This saying cautions us to make intelligent use of our time and resources rather than muscling our way through. One way to think of this is to consider structuring your work so that you are writing and generating new text at times when you are most alert and creative, and revising and editing when you’ve temporarily run out of ideas or need a break from writing but still have time to do work. Flexibility and willingness to shift into another aspect of research/writing can work really well to complement the time you focus on writing and generating new work. This saying might also apply to establishing a regular writing practice for the summer, doing some work all the time rather than squeezing it all into a shorter period.

Reference: Bermejo, Belén. Refranes Populares. Madrid: Editorial Luis Vives, 2002. 33, 51,79.

Theresa Delgadillo is an Associate Professor of Comparative Studies and Coordinator of the Latina/o Studies Program at The Ohio State University. She has served as an Editor of Mujeres Talk since January 2011. 

María Teresa Márquez and CHICLE: The First Chicana/o Electronic Mailing List

By Miguel Juárez

These days we take e-mail and electronic lists for granted, but imagine a world where there is no e-mail or exchange of information like we have now?  That was the world for Humanities Librarian María Teresa Márquez at the University of New Mexico (UNM) Zimmerman Library and creator of CHICLE, the first Chicana/o electronic mailing list created in 1991, to focus on Latino literature and later on the social sciences. [1] Other Chicano/Latino listservs include Roberto Vásquez’s Lared Latina of the Intermountain Southwest (Lared-L) [2] created in 1996, and Roberto Calderon’s Historia-L, created in March 2003. [3] These electronic lists were influential in expanding communication and opportunities among Chicanas/os. CHICLE, nevertheless, deserves wider recognition as a pioneering effort whose importance has been overlooked.

In many instances the Internet revolution was shepherded by librarians in their institutions. Libraries and librarians were early adopters of this new technology. Márquez used computers and e-mail in her work in the Government Information Department at UNM. However, it was in the Library and Information Science Program at California State University, Fullerton, where she first learned about and used computers in a federally-funded program in the 1970s that sought to increase the number of Mexican American librarians. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Márquez earned a Certificate of Advanced Study in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, where she learned more about computers and databases.

In April 1991, Márquez attended the Nineteenth Annual Conference (Los Dos Méxicos) of the National Association of [Chicana and ] Chicano Studies (NACS) in Hermosillo, Sonora, México. One of the panels, moderated by Professor Francisco Lomelí, University of California, Santa Barbara, presented papers on “Literatura Chicana.”  While discussing the topic, scholars raised problems encountered in communicating with each other and in sharing information on new publications and current research. Márquez volunteered to create a listserv or electronic mailing list and explained how it could be of use in keeping scholars informed. At UNM, she developed the list and Professor Erlinda V. Gonzales-Berry, then a faculty member in the UNM Spanish Department, coined its name-CHICLE (which translates into gum in Spanish). CHICLE stood for Chicana/Chicano Literature Exchange.

According to Márquez, most faculty members were not willing to join CHICLE, citing no experience with computers nor did they wish to consider its potential use in academic work. Yet, Márquez launched CHICLE with eight subscribers. She attended numerous academic conferences to distribute fliers and talk to people about the list and recruit subscribers. Furthermore, she attempted to impress upon her listeners the need to be at the forefront of technology, but Márquez said she had few takers. Believing in the importance of the list and in this new form of communication, she persevered and she states: “One day, all of a sudden, membership went up to 800!” As more institutions and faculty members started using computers, the list exploded in the number of subscribers.

The idea for the list evolved from Márquez’s work in a library setting that was used to basically communicating internally. At first Márquez sent out all of the information on the list because she had most of it. She would use librarian’s tools and lists of new books, information of upcoming conferences, calls for papers, and articles that would be of interest, but she received very little in return. The list was limited to her contributions in its early years. Later, as the number of subscribers in the social sciences increased the list moved away from literature. Numerous topics were discussed over the list’s ten–year history (1991-2001), but eventually its popularity led to its demise. Subscribers often stated that the list contained too much information and was time consuming.

Among the active subscribers to CHICLE was archivist Dorinda Moreno, [4] who later went on to work with Lared as well as with Dr. Robert Calderón‘s Historia-L. Moreno contributed history-related information. In contrast to Márquez’s effort, Calderón changed his list to a closed list with a finite number of subscribers where he posted items of interest to the Chicano/a academic community, as opposed to CHICLE which was an open forum. [5] Initially CHICLE was designed as an open forum to encourage broad participation. Dr. Tey Mariana Nunn, now Director and Chief Curator of the Art Museum and Visual Arts Program at the National Hispanic Cultural Center Art Museum in Albuquerque, played a large role in promoting the list in its early days. Nunn was a graduate work-study student. Additionally, Renee Stephens, now at San Francisco State University, then a graduate work-study student at UNM, was also editor for the list, a task inherited from Janice Gould. All these women were instrumental in the success of CHICLE. Eventually, the expansion of the Internet eclipsed Chicana/o listservs.

When CHICLE began, Márquez acted as the sole moderator, but over time, as it gained popularity, she trained students to run it. The popular list existed until her funding to hire work-study students ran out. Her institution was reluctant to provide further support. CHICLE was not considered an appropriate academic part of Márquez’s professional responsibilities. Management of the list competed with duties at the library and as subscriptions grew, it became overwhelming and difficult. Márquez who often managed the list on her own time, stated she would have continued the list but that  it would have required more energy than she was willing to invest. When Márquez decided it was time to move on and discontinue the list, she approached the UNM Technical Center to store the CHICLE files. The Center claimed it did not have sufficient storage space for her files. As news of CHICLE’s imminent shutdown spread, people volunteered to keep the list going but were deterred by the amount of work entailed.

Dr. Diana I. Rios, who has a joint appointment in the Department of Communication and El Instituto at the University of Connecticut among others, made attempts to create an archive of CHICLE.  She made copies of conversations via cut and paste. There were attempts to incorporate CHICLE into another list but Ríos did not want that to happen. Eventually, Latino literary blogs such as Pluma Fronteriza [6] and La Bloga [7] emerged to continue where CHICLE left off.

After CHICLE, Márquez took her energy and enthusiasm in supporting Latina/o students and created a program called CHIPOTLE. [8] She used CHIPOTLE to familiarize Chicana/o rural students with the academic environment and to reach out to surrounding communities. Via grant and affiliated department funded sponsorship, Márquez would take posters and boxes of books by Chicana/Chicano writers to give to students when she visited Hispanic-dominate schools. As part of CHIPOTLE, she created a forum to bring Latina/o speakers into the library and encouraged Latina/o students to utilize the research resources available to them. She directed two programs funded by Rudolfo Anaya: Premío Aztlán and Critica Nueva. Premío Aztlán recognized emerging Chicana/o writers and Critica Nueva was an award honoring the foremost scholars who produced a body of literary criticism based on Chicana/o literature. For many years, Márquez was the only Latina librarian at the University of New Mexico University Libraries. Presently, she is an Associate Professor Emerita. No Latina/o librarians have been hired since her retirement.

In the era of search engines, web browsers, blogs, wiki’s, intranets, and social media, it is important to recognize the efforts of a pioneering Chicana librarian and a pioneering electronic list that was a unique cultural creation. It was given life by so many who read it, posted on it, and worked on it. CHICLE brought many voices together and established a foundation for the future. As Márquez stated, “CHICLE was the catalyst for many things.” [9]

[1] María Teresa Márquez, interview by the author, Albuquerque, April 28, 2007.  [2] Lared Latina of the Intermountain Southwest, was established in the Spring of 1996 by Roberto Vásquez, as a World Wide Web Forum, for the purpose of disseminating socio-political, cultural, educational, and economic information about Latinos in the Albuquerque/Santa Fe Metro area and the Intermountain Region which includes Metropolitan Areas such as the Salt Lake City/Ogden region, Denver, Phoenix, Tucson, Boise, Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada, accessed January 30, 2014:  [3] Dr. Roberto R. Calderón, interview by the author, College Station, Texas, December 20, 2007. Historia-l, focused on Chicano/a history, started as “96SERADC” with 200 subscribers in May 1996 and continued through October 1997. Originally housed at the University of Washington, it helped mobilize the first Immigrant Rights March on Washington, D.C., held on Saturday, October 12, 1996. The march had upwards of 50,000 participants, half of whom were Latina/o college students from across the country. The listserv list then changed venues and was housed at the University of California at Riverside becoming “2000SERADC,” from November 1997 through August 1999, at which point the listserv list was discontinued. This twice-named listserv list project lasted three-and-a-half-years. [4] Dorinda Moreno, Chicano/native Apache (Mother, Grandmother, Great Grandmother) has worked bridging Elders, Women of Color, Inter-generational networks and alliances, with a focus on non-racist, non-sexist (LGBT community), non-toxic–Chicano/a, Mexicano/a, Latino/a, Indigenous communities, projects and networks that give voice to under-represented groups and enable feminist empowerment through social change networks and innovations. As an early Web pioneer and archivist, she has been actively using the Internet since 1973. [5] Calderón interview.  [6] Pluma Fronteriza began as a printed newsletter, then became a blog and currently has a companion site on Facebook:  Accessed February 8, 2014:  [7] La Bloga hosts various bloggers who write on Latino/a literature.  Accessed February 8, 2014:  [8] According to the Memidex Online Dictionary and Thesaurus, Chipotle comes from the Nahuatl word chilpoctli meaning “smoked chili pepper” is a smoke-dried jalapeño, accessed January 30, 2014, [9] Márquez interview.

Miguel Juárez is a doctoral student in Borderlands History at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). He has a Masters in Library Science (MLS) degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo and a Masters of Arts (MA) in Border History from UTEP. In 1997, he published the book: Colors on Desert Walls: the Murals of El Paso (Texas Western Press). Miguel has curated numerous exhibits, as well as written articles in academic journals, newsletters, and newspapers focusing on librarianship, archives, and the cultural arts. From 1998 to 2008, Miguel worked as an academic librarian at the following institutions and centers: State University of New York at Buffalo; Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona; Texas A&M in College Station, TX; and the Chicano Studies Research Center (CSRC) at UCLA. He is also co-editor with Rebecca Hankins of the upcoming book Where Are All the Librarians of Color? The Experiences of People of Color in Academia, part of the Series on Critical Multiculturalism in Information Studies of Litwin Books. The author would like to thank María Teresa Márquez, Dr. Roberto Calderón, Dorinda Moreno, Dr. Tey Mariana Nunn, Renee Stephens, Rebecca Hankins and Dr. Diana Ríos for making suggestions and recommendations for this article. This work is part of a larger body of research on Chicana/o electronic and digital projects during the advent of the Internet.

Finishing the Dissertation

stream of colored lights
Energy Stream (1/5) by Flickr User Joe Skinner Photography
Advice from Graduate Students To Graduate Students on Finishing Your Dissertation

by Yalidy Matos

Graduate school can be an extremely isolating and lonely experience for many  students. It is hard to make time to join social organizations, or for anything other than courses or your dissertation, thus, adding to the isolation and loneliness of it. However, one of the main factors that has helped me is the support from other graduate students. Their friendship and advice has been instrumental to my success in graduate school.

Writing a dissertation can be a daunting and overwhelming experience. It can very easily overwhelm you to the point where you feel immobile; you’re not sure where or how to start. The following is some advice from women graduate students who are either working on or have successfully finished the dissertation.

First, remember that “You can’t eat an elephant in one bite.” Writing a dissertation is a process, it needs to be taken one step at a time. Many of the graduate students emphasize pre-planning, outlining chapters, daily scheduling and writing, weekly goals, and making a dissertation calendar as some of the most important ways they were able to write and ultimately finish their dissertation. Setting feasible weekly goals such as “draft literature review section,” or “edit introduction to chapter x,” are both feasible weekly goals. Each goal focuses on a section of the dissertation, not the entire dissertation or even an entire chapter. Feasible weekly goals allow you to actually meet those goals and reward yourself for it.  Another bit of advice from graduate students is to reward yourself for completing a milestone and/or your weekly goal. One of the graduate students, for example, treated herself to a movie when she finished a weekly goal. You are your own cheerleader and advocate!

On that note, get rid of any “negative energy” and speak positively about your dissertation. Getting rid of negative energy can mean many things. Negative energy can come from others, but it can also come from your inner critic. If you have other graduate students who are always speaking negatively about you or your work, make an attempt not to have conversations with them. Always do so politely and professionally. As graduate students we should be able to choose not to have any kind of negativity around us; it hinders our own progress and work. It is the case, however, that we can be our own worst critic. Find a way to release negative energy (exercise, yoga, meditation, counseling, graduate student support groups), and surround yourself with people that cheer you on and love and support you and your work. On a related note, make use of university resources. If your university offers counseling services or graduate student support groups, join! There is no shame in wanting a supportive group of people to talk to and with which to share experiences. Additionally, if your university or department does not offer these types of services, then take the initiative and create a dissertation workshop/group where you only have supportive positive graduate students. Such a group can serve many purposes; it can be a writing group or more of a support group.

Finally, seeking positive energy includes having a supportive dissertation committee. The dissertation process is already difficult and time-consuming; you want your committee to be supportive of you and your work. Committees are not set in stone until you turn in your paperwork to graduate to the graduate school.  Seek mentorship from other faculty members with whom you feel comfortable. At the end of the day your dissertation committee should be a group of people who believe in you and push you to be and do better. The relationships with your committee members will not always result in happiness (dissertations are hard work, after all), but they should always be a relationship marked by professionalism and guided support.

Thank you to the following faculty and students who generously contributed tips and advice to this essay: Devyn Gillette, PhD, Post-Doctoral Researcher, UNC-Chapel Hill; Danielle Olden, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Utah, Department of History; Desiree Vega, PhD, NCSP, Assistant Professor, Texas State University, School Psychology Program; Delia Fernandez, PhD Candidate, Ohio State University, Department of History; Gisell Jeter, PhD Candidate, Ohio State University, Department of History; Tiffany Lewis, Graduate Student, Ohio State University, Arts Administration Education & Policy.

Suggested Additional Resources:


Single, Peg Boyle. 2020. Demystifying Dissertation Writing. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

Miller, Allison B. 2009. Finish Your Dissertation Once and for All!: How to Overcome Psychological Barriers, Get Results, and Move on With Your Life. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Evans, David., and Paul Gruba. 2002. How to Write a Better Thesis. Australia: Melbourne University Press.


Get a Life, PhD at

The Thesis Whisperer at

Yalidy Matos is a graduate student in the Department of Political Science at The Ohio State University. Her dissertation focuses on the dynamics driving public opinion on U.S. immigration policy. Matos is currently a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow.

Call Me “Doctor”?

People sitting in Occupy Movement protest.Photo by Flickr User Steve Rhodes, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

by Erika Gisela Abad 

This past summer, a call center coworker of mine joked that I should have clients call me “Doctor,” because, having recently graduated with a PhD, it was my professional title as well. As we laughed, I recalled graduate school conversations where the title ‘doctor’ or ‘professor’ was not a laughing matter, especially among women and peers of color. Many of us believed that the title could reinforce what respect and authority we had earned. “Doctor” conversations in both graduate student cubicles and call center cubicles reflect how each environment perceived power, authority and, more specifically, respect. As I compare blogs and academic journals that discuss the nature of how faculty are treated to the perceived experiences of customer service workers, and undocumented workers to which they are compared, I ask myself: when did I begin to equate educational training with earned respect?

In attempting to address the question, I bear in mind compared expectations and value assessment in each position. While the comparison warrants longer conversation, I had to come to terms with the reality that the skills of a person with an advanced degree are more transferable to other forms of white collar and or middle class labor than those within other professions. The way some adjunct faculty have reflected on their experiences, it is easy to forget the extent to which one with a master’s or doctorate can apply their literacy, writing and reviewing skills to other professions. While it is an injustice that adjuncts who rely on teaching as their sole income do not make a living wage nor have access to affordable healthcare, it is important to re-examine the context in which the aforementioned concerns are discussed. Particularly that the focus is on one profession which experiences these economic limitations instead of the general limitation as a whole.

The reason one applies for food stamps, could have barely afforded adequate health care insurance, or worries about their economic stability has less to do with education and more to do with both national and regional policies of what we allow a living wage to be for anyone. Those of us who are underemployed or who, despite our training and skills, do not have full time teaching positions, are a testament that professional degrees do not, by default, create a demand to match the supply. As we vocalize our gendered and raced subordination within the profession, it is critical we bear in mind the national policies and practices that shape limited access to education, adequate health care and affordable housing. Moving beyond the disappointment that advanced degrees do not guarantee the higher quality of life expected, what critical lessons are we learning from the economic recession?

I will answer that question specifically focusing on the women of color narratives I have begun to review so far. Women of color, who speak from a position of recognized institutional marginalization, frame their narrative cognizant of how their gendered and raced social locations create student-teacher/teacher-administrator/supervisor tensions (Turner, Harley, Maisto). Such testimonies and theoretical discussions had initially framed the reliance on “Doctor/Professor” as a symbol of authority and respect, especially on campuses whose towns and cities featured fewer middle class and politically organized people of color. Solely relying on resilience built from my graduate school experience tempted me to forget the manners in which working-class women/women of color in my family and former client bases have worked to assert their respect because of their right to human dignity and community empowerment. As much as I worked to resist institutional xenophobia and the resulting micro-aggressions I encountered along the way towards my PhD, my self-righteous resilience transformed into a meritocratic ethos that overlooked the womanist, mujerista ethos that shaped my intellectual and political communities.

At the core of that ethos lies the understanding that formal education is but one avenue by which we can address social disparities. While reflecting on the pressures and stresses experienced as a result of departmental hierarchies and policies, it is imperative to remember the professional and skilled position from which we speak. Many of the readers of and contributors to Mujeres Talk use our position as educators and advocates to disrupt the insular culture of the ivory tower. As we do so, we risk a great deal because of how our commitment to serving students and our greater communities is pitted against our institutions’ expectations of production. As my academic generation negotiates the double-edged sword of cultural capital and racial profiling, how are we coming to terms with the vulnerability of critical pedagogy and the prestige of our formal training? How do we not internalize racial micro-aggressions by presuming our mixed-class position should be the foundation of our economic security?

Returning to my coworker’s joke, a title or formal training does not guarantee the recognition of human dignity, nor should they be required to acknowledge it. I do not ignore the grave concern around society’s devaluing a liberal arts education nor am I ignoring the worth of the time and effort I put into my projects. As we work to call attention to the degradation of liberal arts higher education and to social justice oriented pedagogy and scholarship, what would it look like if we addressed those concerns within the greater injustices experienced by those whose labor in literal and figurative ‘service’ work is undervalued?


1) Firmage, Ed. “Wage Slaves in the Ivory Tower.” UVU Review the Student Voice. 26 March 2013. 2) Harley, Debra A. “Maids of Academe: African American Women Faculty at Predominantly White Institutions.” Journal of African American Studies 12 (2008): 19-36. 3) Leonard, David. “Adjuncts Aren’t Slaves. Let’s Stop Saying They Are” Vitae 4 December 2013. 4) Maisto, Maria. “Adjuncts, Class, and Fear.” Working-Class Perspectives. 23 September 2013. 5) Snodgrass, Langston. “Adjuncts: The Slave Labor of Higher Education.” Langston Snodgrass. May 2013. 6) Turner, Caroline Sotello Viernes. “Women of Color in Academy Living with Multiple Marginality.” The Journal of Higher Education. 73.1 (2002): 74-93.

Erika Gisela Abad received her PhD from Washington State University’s American Studies Program in May 2012. Her work and poetry have been published in Diálogo and Mujeres de Maiz, and she has work forthcoming in Latino Studies and Sinister Wisdom. An alumni of AmeriCorps and long-time volunteer of organizations serving Latino youth and their families, she does her best to maintain communities ties that foment a theory in praxis. Since finishing graduate school, she has been supporting the Latino community of her North Portland parish, running between the kitchen and the food pantry, going to where she is needed.

From Adjunct to Tenure Track: Reflections and Advice on Navigating an Academic Career in the 21st Century

July 8, 2013

Credit: "Adjunct Instructor" by pixelsrzen on Creative Commons/Flickr.

Credit: “Adjunct Instructor” by pixelsrzen on Creative Commons/Flickr.

By Ella Díaz

The academic career has changed dramatically over the last two decades. Some would even argue that things started to change long before the twenty-first century and for various reasons. However, it is now indisputable that junior colleagues and graduate students feel deep anxieties and pressure about their futures in the university. Finding a tenure-track job in the year that one completes her doctorate is unlikely, especially in arts and humanities fields.  The alternative to the tenure-track or multi-year postdoc is to work as an adjunct instructor, which typically means to “teach on a contract basis, often booked one semester at a time” (Bradbury 2013). Making up 75% of higher ed faculty, adjuncts are the new majority in academia, but this predominance is not beneficial. This certainly was the case for me when I completed my Ph.D. in American Studies in 2010. I had been an adjunct lecturer for four years prior to completing my degree, and would continue as contingent faculty until 2012, when I accepted a tenure-track position, after two years of rigorously applying for lectureships, assistant professorships and postdoctoral fellowships.

In January 2012, MLA president Michael Bérubé reported that “adjunct, contingent faculty make up 1.5 million people teaching in American colleges and universities. Many of them working at or under the poverty line, without health insurance; they have no academic freedom worthy of the name,  because they can be fired at will” (Bérubé 2012). A bleak outlook, Bérubé sums up the spiritual and psychological crises for recently graduated and unemployed or underemployed educators—who find their ideological and political commitments to research, teaching, and service, overshadowed by their need for health care, income to pay back student loans, and the intellectual resources that can only be guaranteed by a tenure-track position (library privileges, research funds, an office, etc.).  Furthermore, Bérubé’s point on the lack of academic freedom for adjunct faculty has ripple effects. Adjunct instructors can feel an indescribable alienation from their labor and personal integrity because they are overburdened with the fear of unexpected dismissal and not knowing semester–to-semester if they will be employed. Subsequently, they self-censor in the classroom, avoid interpersonal relationships with students who seek mentorship, and withdrawal from the larger community of the university (O’Shaughnessy 2012). Aptly entitled Ghosts in the Classroom,Michael Dubson’s 2001 examination of the plight of contingent faculty elaborates on the dilemma of being expected to perform at a professional level while not being treated professionally.

I also can’t help but consider the scarcity of tenure-track jobs at present in the context of other changes and shifts that create greater precarity in our communities—from draconian immigration laws and enforcement, to the banning of books and dismantling of programs in U.S. Latino/a Studies. The point I hope to make by spelling out the individual impact and collective toll of an adjunct faculty majority is that the stakes are higher for those of us who work in Chicana/o-Latina/o Studies at the university level than for scholars in different fields. If we are not present in the university in viable and sustainable ways, we are not able to create, shape, and put forth the knowledge that heals and advances our communities. I have in mind Jason Richwine’s 2009 dissertation which contends that low IQs among “Hispanics” in the U.S. are a genetic failure and contribute to the intellectual deterioration of the nation. His manuscript has been mentioned recently in the press and factors in political discourse on immigration reform, reminding us that knowledge is always constructed, and we have to make sure that we are part of its production.

In what follows, I offer several insights into my transition from an adjunct lecturer of six years to a tenure-track assistant professor. I am aware that every situation is different, including mine. Nevertheless, I believe some of my experiences may offer a perspective to recent graduate students and adjunct faculty that can facilitate professionalization, whether or not one is on a tenure-track.

One of the most important insights I can offer adjunct lecturers and recent graduates is to think strategically about your labor. Sure, you are teaching classes—from writing lesson plans and assignments, to grading student work and holding office hours (at cafes, coffee shops, and the other meeting places of the adjunct lecturer with no office.) But look more closely at what you are doing. Are you conversing in multiple languages? Are you participating in reading or writing groups with other colleagues or graduate students? Are you discussing curriculum for the upcoming semester? I ask because I have recently realized that part of the problem of contingent labor in academia is the alienation one feels through the denial of professionalization, a process that is largely made up of vocabulary and official terms. Of course, the process of professionalization in academia isn’t only linguistic; it also includes levels of access that facilitate research and ultimately, scholarship, through funding, institutional privileges, and a sense of job security. But on the average day, reading and writing groups, bilingual networks, classroom instruction, and student tutorials, are the ways you labor, whether you refer to them as such. Each of these activities are essentially what tenure-track colleagues are doing; they are simply told what to call such activities: a writing group, a language enrichment meeting, a student research group, a curriculum committee and other academic service and research.

In my first year as a tenure-track assistant professor I have had several trainings in which I have been introduced to professionalizing vocabularies. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I have been using concepts of “universal design” in my classroom and “service-learning” components in my syllabi; I have also been a longtime contributor to undergraduate curriculum planning, but now I am on an official committee with senior colleagues. In other words, I have literally been taught how to talk about what I am doing when I am lesson-planning, writing course descriptions, instructing, researching and writing. As an adjunct instructor, your reading or writing group may not be funded by your university, but the work is the same and it is important to know how you have labored when conversing with tenured faculty, interviewing for positions and networking.

In the process of identifying your labor, it is imperative to value everything you do—be it a lecture at a local history society, a public library or a community center. I didn’t realize all of my labor value until my new senior colleagues commented on how many times I popped up on Google for 2011-2012. As an adjunct lecturer, I had to hustle for venues and invitations to present my work. I inquired with galleries, community centers and public history groups for lectures and events. In doing so, I increased my public profile in ways I did not expect because most of these organizations have websites and advertise events and programming. During my job interview and campus visit, I heard several tenured faculty remark on my community activism and creative projects. Moreover, my work outside the university also inspired new academic research and took me in directions I would have never gone if I had stayed safe and entrenched in the university. But many MALCSistas already know the value of community-based work because you’re active in local organizations and causes as part of research, service-learning, civic duty or spiritual care. It’s time to merge these activities (at least on paper) with your professional profile.

Also, how are you accounting for all of your writing? For many of us in humanities fields, we must publish a book and peer-reviewed articles to achieve tenure. But, in the twenty-first-century, other genres and outlets for writing are imperative, and many of you are blogging on your own websites, or on sites like The Huffington PostVice, and our fledgling Mujeres Talk. While blogging is not weighted on the level that the aforementioned publications are for tenure, it offers a particular visibility that can enhance your public profile. So, if you blog, you should make note of it in a professional way, including on your CV, school profile or even business cards. Are you linking your blogs to other known sites? Are you tracking your hits? You never know who’s reading your posts. Recently a tenure-track colleague of mine sent me an email exclaiming that she was thrilled by a blog on the very topic of obtaining a Ph.D. in a humanities field, despite the shrinking pool of tenure-track opportunities. The blog she was so excited about was written by an adjunct instructor. There are two points I hope to make with my example. The first one is that name recognition is incredibly helpful for contingent faculty. If you’re writing blogs or other online commentary, you are building a reputation that may be helpful to you down the road for getting an interview, or even while on an interview, because you never know who is a fan.

The second point I want to make with this particular example is that despite our titles, we are all colleagues, whether one is an adjunct lecturer, professor, instructor, practitioner, artist, etc. It is a system of power (that grows more corporate in structure every day), which categorizes us into different positions; it is not our degrees, nor our scholarship or very persons that have done so. Remember:numerous framers of our fields, including Gloria Anzaldúa, were contingent faculty.

Bérubé touches on the issue of collegiality in his report. He comments that after referring to an adjunct instructor as his colleague, the person thanked him because it was rare when she was referred to as such by her own tenured colleagues. While I don’t want to overemphasize Bérubé’s anecdote or suggest that it is a cure-all to the hardships faced by contingent faculty, the sentiment is not lost on me because, in my six years as an adjunct lecturer, when I was treated by tenured colleagues as, well, a colleague, it made an impact on my teaching and my occupational identity. Moreover, for colleagues who are already tenured, I suggest you reach out to your adjunct colleagues. Mentoring junior colleagues who are in departments as adjuncts can be disconcerting for tenured faculty because they are sometimes unsure how to advise them on advancing. But advice is always welcome and so is friendship.

It is important to remember that the culture of silence that surrounds the changes to the academic career is not our culture. And if the changes that are happening are not ours by desire or design, our responses to them should not perpetuate the problem by not talking about them, whether we are tenured or not. In fact, our culture offers a powerful alternative to the status quo, as lecturer and blogger Annemarie Perez recently wrote in response to the flurry of online articles on the dismal state of the academic job market: “Yes, part of me reads these articles and understands. The job market / adjunct situation is bad. Rejection sucks. Uncertainty is hard. But nothing is ever certain. My family is proud of the adjuncting work I do, proud of the editing work I do, proud of me. They wouldn’t understand (or care) about the difference between a tenured and untenured position. To them all employment is uncertain, all work has dignity” (April 16, 2013Perez’s statement is powerful for all of us to remember. It definitely reminds me of who I am on a daily basis and motivates me to speak with undergraduate and graduate students about why I wanted a Ph.D. in the first place. Ironically, the reasons that I wanted to be a professor are the very same ones for the Chicana undergraduate, who came to my office last May to ask me to be her advisor. Her reasons for wanting to become a Ph.D. aren’t innocent, naïve or overly idealistic. They are time-tested, honorable and based on tradition. With this blog, I hope more of you will weigh in and offer advice and testimony on your experiences.

Ella Diaz is an Assistant Professor of English at Cornell University. Her research is on the interdependence of Chicana/o and Latina/o literary and visual cultures.


  1. Ella Diaz    July 10, 2013 at 10:55 AM

    I have also had time to catch up on some of my journal reading and I recommend that folks check out George Lipsitz and Barbara Tomlinson’s brilliant essay on accompaniment in this last spring’s AMST Quarterly. My thoughts in the above blog fit nicely into this larger perspective of the stakes of our work as academics:

  2. Theresa Delgadillo    July 14, 2013 at 9:46 AM


    Thanks for this blog essay offering both advice and perspective on the adjunct situation. Readers might also be interested in a recent blog on this topic in the Chronicle of Higher Education titled “I’m an Adjunct, Not a Volunteer.”

    A colleague recently asked me for advice about an adjunct offer she received and it occurred to me that we know much more about advising someone in negotiations for tenure-track jobs than we do about advising them on adjunct work. For example, must one accept the teaching load and salary that is offered or is there any room for negotiation? Where are better places for adjunct work? Should you try to do service as an adjunct to prove that you would make a good tenure track hire or do you stick just to your work? What can we do to diminish the reliance on adjunct faculty? I appreciate how your essay calls us to discuss these topics more openly.

  3. CR    September 24, 2013 at 7:22 AM

    I believe this is another reason why the US can’t compete in the global marketplace– an education system can hardly thrive and remain worldclass when educators have to struggle and new talent isn’t incentivized to enter and stay in academia.

DICHOS: Tips on Seeking Tenure

April 29, 2013

Step Junction by Prof Shorthair. Flickr/Creative Commons License.
Step Junction by Prof Shorthair. Flickr/Creative Commons License.

By Catherine Ramírez and Karen Mary Davalos

Recently, the Mujeres Talk Collective asked successful women to share tips and advice on the tenure process. Below are two insightful contributions from Dras. Catherine Ramírez and Karen Mary Davalos:

Catherine S. Ramírez
Know your institution. Familiarize yourself with its policies, procedures, and expectations.  Ask colleagues who’ve recently been promoted to tenure for their CVs. (Increasingly, CVs are available online.) If you have the opportunity to write a statement for your file, quote your institution’s policy manual directly. For example, if the manual states that candidates must demonstrate “scholarly progress and productivity,” write, “I’ve demonstrated scholarly progress and productivity by…” In other words, show your colleagues that you’ve played by the rules of the game.

Build bridges. While it’s essential to have allies within your own department, it’s equally important and often more illuminating to forge ties with colleagues beyond it. Senior colleagues at other institutions will serve as your external reviewers when you’re up for tenure. Get to know them and make sure they know you (e.g., by attending conferences and serving on professional organization committees). Meanwhile, reach out to colleagues in other departments at your university. Find a mentor outside of your department. Forging ties with colleagues across campus can prevent you from becoming isolated. And if any irregularities arise in your tenure review, you’re more likely to be made aware of them if you have friends elsewhere.

Stay focused. If your institution requires a book for tenure, then write a book. Scholarly projects can be a bit like lovers: it’s easy to get bored with an old one and be tempted by a newer, less familiar one. As tempting as it is to drop the older project for the newer one, finish the former (or the bulk of it, at least) before moving on to the latter. Avoid over-conferencing. Attending conferences can be rewarding, but it can also be distracting, exhausting, and expensive.

Publish strategically. A publication in a refereed journal generally carries more weight than the very same publication in a special issue or anthology. Academic presses are almost always deemed more legitimate than others.

Hustle. While requirements and expectations vary, it’s safe to say that those of us at research institutions should publish and present our work publicly on a regular basis.

Karen Mary Davalos
Email is not your friend. Learn this lesson early in your academic career and you will avoid many of the common structural challenges of higher education. One minute you are checking email, and the next minute three hours slipped past. Email can alter the time-space continuum and take up precious time for scholarship.

More importantly, email does not help you create relationships, and as our society adds texting to its mode of communication, we come to assume that less is more. As a chair, email used to give me a sense that I am connected to my faculty, accessible and available. At one point on my campus, the model faculty member was imagined as the one who immediately answered email—and at all hours of the day. What about those poor fools who were routed through the slower servers and their email arrived or was sent hours later? Well, they just could not be trusted with departmental governance!  But don’t be fooled! Email is not anyone’s best tool to achieve leadership, communication, or relationships.

Try these ten simple tips to protect yourself from the vortex of email and from conflict and miscommunication in your department. The tips are not listed in any particular order, but if the institution’s legal counsel has been after you, then number three is at the top of your list. Email is a paper trail, even if it exists in virtual space. It is not private and nor does it belong to you if you are using the institution’s email address. If you find that you have been devoting several hours each day to email, then numbers 1 and 2 top your list. But stick to the plan, and don’t let one hour become three.

Finally, email is not your scapegoat. Don’t allow it to control how you use your day. You would not plan a meeting without an agenda, and you certainly would not meet with a faculty member “just to kill time.” If you need a break, take a walk. The effects will get so much more mileage than a hastily written email.

1) Turn off automatic email delivery.

2) Schedule time specifically for email retrieval and reply. Try one hour in the morning and one hour at the end of the day.

3) Never use email to discuss a personnel issue.

4) Proofread your email before you send. Email is letter writing. It counts.

5) Do not forward to another party without sender’s consent.

6) If you’re writing more than five sentences in reply, then walk over to the sender’s office and talk face-to-face.

7) If it’s a complicated reply, then call the sender for an appointment.

8) Use Reply-All with caution. Some communications should be shared with all department members, but if it really is something for everyone to know or discuss, then add it to the monthly agenda. Better yet: create an email culture in your department: Does everyone receive everything? Does every email require a confirmation of receipt? What is a reasonable time frame for reply? Talk about email communication expectations, since it’s still a relatively new genre and our cultural codes are being renegotiated.

9) Model professional communication. Don’t curse or gossip.

10) If email threads are the norm in your department, then use another application to manage electronic communication.

Catherine Ramírez is an Associate Professor in Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  She’s the author of The Woman in the Zoot Suit: Gender, Nationalism, and the Cultural Politics of Memory (Duke University Press, 2009) and is currently writing a history of assimilation in the United States.

Karen Mary Davalos is Chair and Professor of Chicana/o Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Her book, Yolanda M. López, (UCLA CSRC Press with distribution by University of Minnesota Press, 2008), brings together her research and teaching interests in Chicana feminist scholarship, spirituality, art, exhibition practices, and oral history.


Ella Diaz    April 29, 2013 at 1:24 PM

Thank you Catherine and Karen Mary for these sharp and distilled pieces of advice. Being on a tenure track and a new institution can be overwhelming and not easy to maneuver. Your direct suggestions cut through the fog. Much appreciated!
Ella Diaz