Preparing a Tenure Portfolio

At the University of North Georgia, faculty apply for tenure after year four. The faculty handbook outlines the specific documents needed and these documents are uploaded to UNG’s course management platform (D2L) by the second Monday of September. Committees form, committees review, committees make recommendations, and an email arrives, then a letter, signed by the provost announcing the decision.

Faculty apply for tenure at the beginning of their fifth year. That date doesn’t budge—though it can be extended, if needed.  But promotion, at UNG, can be uncoupled from tenure. Faculty can apply early for promotion. Much thanks to my colleague in the College of Business who noticed the single-sentence paragraph in the Faculty Handbook stating such. With the endorsement of my chair and my dean, I applied for early promotion last AY; I received it and the increase in pay as stipulated, again, in the Faculty Handbook.

Since I applied for early promotion, I have all the documents needed for tenure. The same documents are needed. I have spent the summer updating.

In general, here are the requirements for tenure, which I’ve cut and pasted:

The criteria to be used when considering a faculty member for tenure or promotion are as follows: 

  • Superior teaching; Demonstrating excellence in instruction
  • Professional Growth & Development / Scholarship / Academic Achievement
  • Outstanding service to the institution, profession, or community

Faculty provide evidence of these three bullet points by uploading a lot of documents:

  • A cover sheet
  • A “full professional CV”
  • A teaching CV
  • A service CV
  • A scholarship CV

 These three additional CVs, of course, echo the full professional CV. But there are additional items requested on these specific CVs that I don’t have on my full professional CV, such as how many advises I work with.

  • A summary statement of 6 single-space pages
  • And a bunch of supporting documents to “prove” scholarship, teaching, service. I include pdfs of all my articles and syllabi.
  • All annual performance evaluations
  • All student evaluations
  • Letter from chair
  • Letter from at least 2 colleagues, one of whom needs to have tenure

If the Department Promotion and Tenure Committee approve the portfolio, then they write a letter. If the College Promotion and Tenure Committee approve the portfolio, then they write a letter. Then the dean writes, then the University Wide Promotion and Tenure Committee writes.

What I have below is my 6 page single-spaced summary statement. In this summary statement, I connect my work with the UNG’s Strategic Plan, with AAC&U best practices, and with material from the Faculty Handbook for defining service and scholarship.

This document, then, is grounded in the language my university speaks, as I seek to show my value to UNG—not my value to another university, another college.

Finally, as I am at a teaching school, teaching is foregrounded in this summary statement. 60% of my contract is based off my work in the classroom. I’m a teacher at heart who does some writing/research.

Like book proposals, I don’t think grad students get much, if any training, in writing tenure documents. But this is a critical genre, and I am thankful for the examples I have looked over and the wonderful workshops our Center for Teaching, Learning, and Leadership offer on preparing for tenure and promotion.

Start preparing week 1, day 1. Start compiling documents. Start reading the Faculty Handbook, the QEP, the Strategic Plan. Learn the language of your school.

And then write.

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Thankfulness: I’m Here Because of Others

I’m here because of others.

Question: What is here?

Answer: a tenure-track position landed out of graduate school at a four year university located 45 minutes from my two parents and 4.5 hours from the Wife’s two parents. A stable job where the Chair is supportive, the Dean is supportive, the colleagues are supportive. A position where I received early promotion and am confident in landing tenure next AY. A teaching career with flexibility in my class schedule and students engaged. A service career where I lead faculty development workshops, oversee the FYC program, sit on the honors program advisory council. A research career where I have two book contracts, multiple articles, inside access to the athletics department, to the Corps of Cadets.

Question: where else is here?

Answer: this house; a new house in a new neighborhood with room in the house for our family of five; this city with strong public libraries, park and rec association, easy access to interstate and state parks; this state where I was raised, where my wife was raised, where both sets of parents still live; this time, where my kids don’t have to work in factories at a young age, where my wife can safely give birth, where I and my family have easy access to vaccinations and health care, where my wife and I and my kids can vote for whoever we want and then safely voice our support or displeasure.

I’m here because of others.

With none of my involvement or skill or intelligence, I was born to two middle class white people who also have two sets of supportive parents and who had the money to raise a child. I was born to a dad with a college degree who wanted to be in my life and who worked a steady federal gov’t job. I was born to a mom who went back to receive her college degree when I was in elementary school and who could rely on the dad to watch the kids; she didn’t have to pay a babysitter, leave us home alone. I was raised by two white—now upper middleclass—people both with a college degree. I got a head start.

I was raised in a house my parents owned. When they sold that house, they moved into another house they owned. In a neighborhood where the only cause of concern was the length of the grass—gotta cut your grass per HOA rules.

When the local high school didn’t work out, I went to a private school because that was possible. Not because I did anything to earn it.

I went to college. I graduated with $7000 in debt and paid it off within three years.

I got engaged and paid cash for a engagement ring and then wedding ring. I used the money from my summer job, which was a construction gig because my uncle owned a construction company. Where did I live during the summer? At my grandma’s place. For free. Because she was alive and interested in me.

With support from parents, my wife and I bought our first house and I landed a job teaching high school because the principle knew where I went to college and wanted to send her son there. That’s all. She recognized my alma mater.

During graduate school, I never took out a loan because my wife worked. We lived off her teaching salary. I graduated in four years with my PhD. I graduated without any debt because of my wife’s job.

I landed a book contract with Utah State University Press, partly because I met the acquisitions editor, Michael Spooner, through one of my mentors, Michele Eodice. Michele and Michael are good friends who share a love of whiskey and cigars. I met Michael through Michele in Las Vegas at a conference. When it came time for my to pitch my book, I already had a connection. And that connection worked.

On and on. I can now start tracing the head start my kids are receiving. Hard work is needed, sure. But so much depends on the celestial roll of the dice. I wouldn’t be upper middle class if I was born in England in the 14th century. I would be a farmer, live a farmer, die a farmer. Hard work wouldn’t move me up the ladder. So much depends on the roll, the bounce, the spin, looking over the edge of the table with hopeful eyes and seeing the black dots on the stark white of the die.

It’s so much luck, this life game we play. But we also gotta give people a chance to play. We gotta let them sidle up to the table, finger the die, blow on them, toss them down on the hard felt, watch the roll, the bounce, the spin, and see what the black dots say. The Celestial Casinos need to invite all. Not just those who have won in the past.

But also those who have lost in the past.

I’m here because my parents and their parents entered the Celestial Casinos and rolled well. I, then, got entry and rolled, too.

I’m here because of others.

Annotated Table of Contents

Somewhere in Colorado, my book is undergoing production. I just got an email from Laura Furney, the assistant director and managing editor with the University of Colorado Press. She wrote to tell me that they are prepping my manuscript for copyediting and adding XML coding for the ebook edition. Around October, copyedited files will fall on my desk for review. The book should come out in April.

The Embodied Playbook: Writing Practices of Student-Athletes will soon be born.

I posted a few weeks back about the book proposal process. Book proposals are unique genres, ones we don’t get much—if any—training on in graduate school. Unlike article or books, they aren’t published; they are a hidden genre that gives rise to a public genre. Kinda odd, right?

I’ll glad some found that helpful.

Below, I’m posting my annotated table of contents. Per the submission guidelines for my press, I needed to send along a proposal, two sample chapters, a cv, and an annotated TOC. I modeled my proposal after Chris Carter’s; I modeled my annotated TOC after Chris’s, too. I even kept the same font and fully justified the text—just like Chris.

I struggle mightily with abstracts, and annotated TOCs are just a bunch of abstracts. This was nasty hard for me. But just like an IRB application, the process helped me better understand my project. It helped me see the throughline of my book, how the sections fit together; the process helped me feel where I was spinning bullsh*t, and where I really knew my plan for the chapter.

Below is the finished doc. Through reader feedback, the chapters changed a bit—especially the title of my book. But this is the original demo (to borrow some music lingo). Final note: my book has five chapters and always has. I’m not sure where the chapter 5 blurb went. Hmm.. Musta been there at some point.

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I’ll glad many found that helpfu

Rhetoric & Comics

For the second time, I am teaching a rhetoric and comics class. It’s officially titled “Rhetoric and the Graphic Novel” to lend some gravitas to our Important Scholarly Work.

It’s not really my area. I got the visual rhetoric theory, which I also bring to bear on my work with scripted sports’ plays and how athletes make sense of the kaleidoscope of images swirling in a play. My first publication, a Composition Forum piece, made work of some of this theory and so do portions of my forthcoming book–The Embodied Playbook: Writing Practices of Student-Athletes.

But comics? Never published here. But I do read a lot of em.

I got into comics as a grad student when I made my way into Atomik Pop on Main Street one  day. I’m not sure what pulled me into that space; I don’t know what I was looking for. But I had a great talk with the dude behind the counter (it’s always a dude behind the counter at our LCS). I think I walked out with an issue of Daredevil, a series I purchased consistently for 15 months or so.

I’m now full-on with DC. I reread Geoff Johns’s wonderful Infinite Crisis over the past two days.

No Marvel for me, please.

But the texts that stay with me the most are the graphic novels, not the serialized paperbacks or the one-shots.

Alan Moore’s From Hell–possibly the most unsettling text I’ve read; and I’ve read Stephen King entire oeuvre.

Jeff Lemire’s Essex County–I teared up when the hockey team tapped their sticks to the ground in a sign of respect.

Grant Morrison’s We3–another one that caused my tear ducts to get to work.

Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan–one I keep finding new areas of exploration in the narrative.

Craig Thompson’s Blankets–evidence that all graphic novels don’t need to be negative, dark, weighty, angsty.

I’ve brought my love of the narratives, the images, the lines, the lettering, the inking to my class this summer. Below is what we are doing–my full syllabus.

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Book proposals

On July 1, 2015, I sent a book proposal to Michael Spooner, the acquisitions editor at Utah State University Press, an imprint of the University Press of Colorado.  The book came with a tentative title: The Literate Practices of Big-Time College Sports. And I included an annotated TOC with my proposal.

I received an advanced contract in mid-August.

After two rounds of reader review, I sent in the complete book (newly titled as The Embodied Playbook: Writing Practices of Student-Athletes; thanks to Michele Eodice for help there) in January 2017.

As I type out these words, the book is undergoing the publication process right now, and I am thankful for an old high school friend who designed my cover.

Below, I include the exact cover letter I send onto Michael. The book proposal format is a tough one: rhetorically tricky that asks for a dash of marketing and salesmanship that many academics feel uncomfortable with. I’m wired as an introvert; so getting me to bang my own drum, shout from the mountain top for recognition in the loud and busy world book publishing–well, that’s tough. And the ego it takes to think someone should publish MANY copies and MANY pages of your writing. Yikes.

Examples are key for thinking through new genres. I am grateful that Chris Carter shared his book proposal with me. His book, Rhetorical Exposures, just came out with the University of Alabama Press. Paying the love forward, I share mine.

One final note: check out William Germano’s From Dissertation to Book and Getting It Published. I could take you to the exact booth at my university’s cafeteria where, when reading From Diss, I realized, I had a book buried and screaming for release from within my dissertation.

Rachel Toor also has a good series of posts on about writing a book proposal.

I’m keeping things brief here, but if you wanna talk more, then let’s.

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Comedy and Writing

About two years, I interviewed comedian John Crist after his show at the University of North Georgia.

As a writing teacher-researcher, I am fascinated by what writing means for different people and how writing is accomplished for different jobs.

John has developed a strong following with his clean comedy and self-deprecating approach to his Christian upbringing and faith. One of his more watched YouTube bits is titled “Christian Girl Instagram,” a short satirical video of how to post social media content of one’s daily spiritual quiet-time.

My article focused on John was just published by the Journal for the Assembly of Expanded Perspectives on Learning. The full pdf is below. Further down is a link to a Soundcloud clip of my interview with John. Apologies for the 30 second gap near the end; Audacity and I don’t always get along.

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Morning PT at Fort Wainwright

. 0545 HOURS

I’m less than the 200 miles from the Arctic Circle sitting in the passenger seat of an creaky Subaru Outback driven by an Army Major. Major Brian Forester, a West Point and Ranger school graduate, a veteran of three deployments, takes a turn and we pull into the parking lot at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks, Alaska. I step out into the cool morning. We stretch, chat, wait for another Army officer to show up, and then take off on a 4-mile run snaking our way through the base, across bridges, along sidewalks, over the gently rolling Chena River. We chat about admissions processes at West Point, a UNG graduate who was recently killed in Mosul, Iraq, and the merits of a local golf course. I keep up during the four mile run at an 8.30 pace though I have a hunching suspicious that they lessened their pace for my civilian capabilities.

We shower off, eat breakfast, slurp some coffee. By 0830 hours, we in the office. Forester is behind his standing desk, rapidly sending out emails on his computer, thumbing through his iPhone, swigging coffee from his thermos. In less than a month days, he is responsible for coordinating the arrival and training of hundreds of soldiers in his brigade in the Pacific. As he has many times in the past, he will leave his wife and three kids and head off with the Army. This time, however, he isn’t entering a theater of war and will only be gone for three months. Papers are spread across the table in his office; his dry erase board is covered in time lines complete with five different color dry erase markers.

(Chena River; my own pic)

Through navigating a complex web of literate practices, Forester will plan and execute this three month long international joint training exercise. If all goes well, he tells me on our run, then no one will get credit; if things fall a part, then the burden of guilt falls on his shoulders, not his superior’s.

At 0840 hours, the network goes down. With a shake of his head, Forester leaves his office.

Inside a Brigade Headquarters

I’m sitting in an office at Brigade headquarters.

I’m at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks, Alaska.

I’m closer to Russia and Japan than I am to my hometown of Atlanta, Georgia.

I’m 200 miles from the Arctic Circle.

With generous funding from my Department, I’ve traveled thousands of miles to learn what writing is and what it accomplishes within the U.S. Army. More specifically, I wanna know how Major Brian Forester, the Brigade S-3, uses writing to accomplish the many planning and operations that cycle through the 1st Brigade 25th Infantry here in Fairbanks. Major Forester reports directly to a Colonel, one of the three 0-6 Colonels overseeing activities at Fort Wainwright. As I sit in Forester’s office, I watch him coordinate current training exercises to Fort Polk in Louisiana, prepare for training exercises in the around the pacific. From his iPhone, he thumbs through email after email and with a few swipes and taps moves the 4500 soldiers at Fort Wainwright from Here to There.

His office is a collection of literate practices; his conference table covered in timelines; his dry erase board covered in timelines; his desk covered in paper-clipped documents; his wall covered in topographical maps of the immediate area.

Fairbanks, Alaska is an outpost. Not a place people pass through and low on the tourist interest level for Alaska. In Fairbanks, the soaring, majestic peaks of the Chugach Mountains are gone; the coast is gone; the glaciers are gone. The President isn’t making publicity stops in Fairbanks nor are senators or generals. But this Fort, like all Army forts scattered in desolate and populated areas alike, fulfills a critical mission of being on high alert, well-trained and well-equipped for deployment to a theater of war at any moment.

With a collective rallying cry of “Arctic Strong,” this Brigade completes the many tasks and orders circulated through its space. And one of the central nodes for this continued circulation of the office is Major Brian Forester.

What does writing mean to him? How does he accomplish writing and how does writing—in a broadly conceived understanding of this noun and verb—help coordinate the movement of thousands of troops from Alaska to Louisiana to Korea to Australia all in the quest of betterment and all in the quest of strengthening our national security?

FYC Annual Report for the University of North Georgia

In my role as Director of First-Year Composition, I believe it is important for me to prepare and disseminate an annual report that captures the dynamic work of our FYC program and of the FYC Committee (Kendra Bryant, Marc DiMaggio, Kathryn Hinds, and Jim Shimkus).

This AY 16-17 annual report is embedded below.

Reading the report, you will learn that we taught 26% of the entire student population in our first-year writing classes during the fall semester and that we taught 8,785 students during the AY. You will also learn that 1,750 students received a 3 on one of the AP  language tests and, therefore, received the optional to exempt 1101.

You will also learn of professional development opportunities for next AY that I am offering at UNG through the FYC Program such as a teaching circle on antiracist writing assessment practices–using Asao Inoue’s book–and a culled list of recent scholarship from the world of writing studies—including a piece by two of my colleagues (Mary Carney and Laura Ng) from the journal Teaching & Learning Inquiry.

In these Dark Times, transparency, commitment to student learning, and engagement with all university stakeholders may the Light which helps us along the way.

I offer transparency, commitment, and engagement in this report.

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Playing With Fiction

When I had world enough and time (and the drive), I arranged some words into two chapter books for elementary age kids. I wrote the first, Jimmy, Grumple, and the Band of Beavers, long-hand, during the long, hot Oklahoma summers. I remember sitting under a tree on a park bench by the playground and moving words across a yellow legal pad with my blue pen.

At night, I would type up the words, rearranging and editing as the words moved from my legal pad to a Word doc on this brand new Apple desktop my wife and I bought.

I wrote for myself and my son, who was about three months away from making his way into the world. After Maddux was born, I self-published Jimmy through It sits on my bookshelf now.

I turned my attention to another narrative. Driving through the Oklahoma plains, I had this picture of a fifth grader who could not read–but no one knew he couldn’t. Through trickery, he concealed his literacy struggles from parents and teachers. In 2010, I finished The Boy Who Couldn’t Read, a title which sucks now because of the popularity of Girl/Boy/Man Who titles. But a title I liked at the time.

Below is chapter 12 in all of it’s unedited and unpolished joy. This chapter is about 1/4 of the way into the book. It’s the turning point–kinda like the point in the narrative where the kids discover that the wardrobe goes to Narnia, that a Fellowship will band together to destroy the Ring.

Almost a decade later, I still like it, and look back on this story fondly.

Magic, boys, journeys, reading, forests–I still find hope in these things.


Chapter 12

Damian moved down the ladder and into the large hole in the center of the charred forest floor. His hands held tight to the rungs as he descended. When his foot hit the ground, he could feel like soft sand floor.

He bent down and picked up his wooden bat.

Though he couldn’t see anything, Damian could tell the space he was in was large.  He took a deep loud breath and held out his hand. It disappeared in the dark.  He started walking forward with his baseball bat in front on him like a cane. He moved slow, walking on the sandy floor. His BB gun was propped on his shoulder.  He took steps and kept waiting to run into a wall. But on he walked. And walked. And walked.

He had taken roughly a hundred paces when he turned and looked back at the ladder. A ray of sun jumped down the hole and illuminated the ladder. It stood against the wall of the hole like a safe tower waiting for him to return. He was tempted to run up the ladder and back home. At home he was safe. He could work on his project with Liam and listen to Liam read him a Daredevil comic. The new one just came out and Damian was dying to know if Daredevil would still be leading the Hand and what Daredevil planned to do with the evil Bullesye. But, of course, Liam would have to read to him. Again.

Damian was tired of people reading to him. He was tired of not being able to read on his own. He had never really like Daredevil.  Not really. He had always been a Batman fan. What he really wanted Liam or Stuart to read to him was about Batman, Robin and Arkham Asylum. He wanted to learn more about Bruce Wayne’s journey in time and how Dick Grayson was doing as the new Batman.  But no, he always had to listen to Daredevil.

And then there was Peter his pet turtle. Peter died because Damian could not read the instructions on the medicine. Damian still thought about Peter when he was falling asleep. He could picture Peter with his striped body happily floating in the water. Now Peter was in the ground and never coming back. He asked for another turtle, but his parents suggesting getting a fish instead. Damian yelled some bad words and his parents said that maybe he was not responsible enough for a pet. Two years had passed and Damian was the only kid in the neighborhood without a pet.

These thoughts were in his head as he stared at the safe ladder. He turned and began walking to the ladder when something caught his vision. It was a small glowing globe hanging and dancing in the air like a firefly. The light was orange, brown, white. It changed colors as it glowed. Stunned, Damian moved toward it.  He was staring at it and dropped his bat and gun. His mouth was open. As he moved closer the globe changed shape. It molded itself into a turtle and opened its small mouth.

“Keepcoming,” the mouth spoke in a high-pitched voice.

The mouth changed color: orange, brown, white, and darted down into the dark away from the ladder.

Damian chased the mouth into the dark leaving behind his bat and gun.

Damian ran into the dark. He shoes bounced off the soft sand floor.  He forgot about running into a wall and rushed into the dark after the mouth.

“Keepcoming,” the high-pitched voice spoke. “ Keepcoming.  Goodvitaminsthisway.  Justwhatyou needtofeelbetter.”

Damian ran. He was no longer scared. He trusted the mouth.


Damian was on his back. He had run into something. He picked himself up.  The mouth was in front on him.

“Keepcoming,” it spoke.

Damian reached out and his hand touched a cool surface.

“Huh?” he mouthed to himself.

The mouth started quivering and began to make a loud hard noise. It sounded like tires screeching on the pavement. The mouth grew larger. The size of a baseball, the size of a basketball, the size of a beach ball.

The noise continued, and then the mouth exploded.

“Keepcoming!”  it yelled as it burst into bright light illuminating the dark passage.

The light bounced off the sandy floor and the walls, and Damian could see all around him.

The walls were closer than he expected and the ceiling was only three feet above his head. Damian looked all around, and it seemed like he was in an old mine shaft.  Behind him, the dark began again. In front of him, the bright glow from the mouth showed a strange silver ball blocking the entire passage.

This is what I ran into, Damian thought.

The silver ball was spinning rapidly and seemed to be covered in water.

Damian wondered why the mouth said “Keepcoming.”

How can I get past this?  Damian thought. He thought of his bat and his gun but remembered he left then behind.

No way I am going back that way.  No way I am going back into the dark.

Damian walked toward the spinning silver ball. It made a soft humming sound. He reached out his hand toward it and touched the hard wet ball. It was cold and hard.  Damian lightly knocked on it and it rang out. He pushed on the ball but nothing happened.  It kept spinning.

Damian sat on the ground unsure of what to do. He wanted to be home with his toys. He wanted to stare at his ceiling and dream of sailing through space. He wanted to catch night crawlers with his dad and feed them to Peter. He wanted to read by himself about Batman and Batman’s supposed son. What was his name?

“Damian” Damian said to himself.  “Batman’s son is named Damian. That Damian would know what to do”

Angrily, Damian jumped to his feet, ran at the silver spinning ball and stretched out his foot to kick. Right when his foot was about to make contact, it slide into the silver ball. All of Damian’s weight was traveling toward the ball and Damian found himself falling into the strange spinning silver ball.

All color was gone. He could only see silver as he spun around and around inside the strange ball. The loud buzzing sound from before returned, as did the squeeze/release of the invisible hand.

Damian was spun around and around. He tried to scream but no words came out. His voice was gone and the water from the spinning ball filled his lungs.  Around and around.  Buzzing. Squeeze/release. He tried to stand but couldn’t.


Damian heard a quick noise.

“Oi there!”

A little man sailed next to Damian.  He was short and bald.  On his head he had a strange mark that looked like a question mark.

“Oi!  Drink this!” The man said holding out a little vial.  The man was not spinning but seemed to be standing on solid ground.

Spinning around and around Damian tried to grab the vial but couldn’t.

The little man laughed.

“So sorry. Here!”  He tossed the liquid out at Damian. Damian could feel a warm thick liquid cover him. And slowly he stopped spinning

He was lying on his back inside the silver spinning ball. He tried to stand but was still too dizzy. The ball continued to spin but Damian was still.

The inside of the ball grew to life. The wet silver walls turned into trees, houses, paths, people. A whole world opened up inside the ball. Damian closed his eyes and opened them again. There was no sign of the walls of the strange silver spinning ball. Instead Damian seemed to be in strange village.

He looked around and saw the people. They looked like regular people but their heads were large. Some heads were so large that the people were not able to stand but had to crawl around on the ground. All had a strange question mark on their foreheads.

Damian looked at the little bald man in front of him who now held an empty vial.

“Where am I?” Damian asked.

“Oi!  Welcome to Carver City!”