Next fall, I go up for tenure at the U. It seems early to be doing this, but every school has its own way of doing things. The process is extremely complex, and I think I understand most nooks and crannies. Here's how it works (or at least: here's how I THINK it works):
1. NOW: Create a series of documents that summarize all of your academic and creative work at the U and in you research area since you joined the U. This brick of content should include: photographs, audio, video, class materials, published articles, books, etc. My packet will include: two color photograph/press booklets, four scores, four DVDs, one booklet of classroom materials. Optional (but strongly encouraged): a multi-page document outlining why YOU think you deserve tenure. A bit of interesting minutia: the document must lay down flat: no three-ring binders allowed.
2. SOON: Copy that entire brick-of-content six times.
3. MAY: Send the brick-of-content out to readers around the world. 'Readers' means 'tenured faculty at research universities who don't have a personal relationship with you.' Fortunately, I don't have major inroads in academia, so there are plenty of people to choose from. Unfortunately, there are approximately 6 sound designers who fit that bill, and I know 4 of them.
4. SUMMER: Those readers will read through my file and write letters that (hopefully) support my promotion to tenure.
5. SEPTEMBER: Revise my brick-of-content to include the work I did over the summer.
6. OCTOBER: Deliver the brick-of-content to the Drama faculty for their review and (hopefully) support. The faculty will generate a letter stating their view. After that, my department chair writes a letter. After that, the Dean writes a letter. After that, the whole brick-of-content (now accompanied by letters from readers, my colleagues, my chair, and my dean) goes into the bureaucratic mess of the greater U. I'm not really sure what happens there. There might be the reading of chicken bones or tea leaves. Eventually, a final decision will be made.
7. MARCH(ish): I get a response from the U as to whether I've been awarded tenure. If I get tenure, then I get a small bump in salary, a promotion from Assistant Prof. to Associate Prof., and some financial stability (as much as one can have in California). If I don't get tenure, then I finish the school year and am out of a job on 1 August 2011. There's no middle ground. Yikes!
So, this is the kind of thing that I've been working on for a few months now. I think I have a good shot at it, but there's no real way to tell...