I shared over Twitter last week that I got the news I was promoted to full professor. I took my time getting there; my department chair, Marlon Boarnet, told me about two years ago that I should go up, but I was nervous about my citation count and not having the book done, and putting together these cases IS SO MUCH WORK that a) I didn’t want to go to the trouble of dealing with it, nor did I want to put my colleagues through all the hassle of the case if it wasn’t going to fly. (I have good colleagues for this kind of thing; they would have told me the case wasn’t ready to go if they weren’t ready to bring it forward, as it IS a lot of work for them, too; and b) I didn’t want to risk getting turned down as even if it doesn’t mean job loss, I’m sensitive enough that a reject from the central administration would have prompted me to spend large amounts of time sulking in my bed and watching Gilmore Girls reruns and eating Ben and Jerry’s, the 21st century version of Achilles pouting in his tent. So I put it off.
Last February, Marlon, David Sloane, and Mike Nichols press-ganged me into it; David knew the the book was taking a long time, and he decided it wasn’t worth waiting for and I had done enough research, service, and teaching without that to merit the promotion. I put together the case, unwillingly. However, since Marlon and Mike (my dean of faculty) gave me such a short deadline for putting the case together, and the work coincided with putting together the special issue for JAPA, I didn’t really have time to overwork it or worry about it as much as I normally would have. I just did the best I could and sent it.
For the first time in a very long time, I trusted other people. Marlon is a very, very conscientious and diligent administrator. He wouldn’t slop together the case, and David Sloane, who is running Promotion and Tenure this year, is also unbelievably conscientious in doing service (which is why he ends up doing all the things.) Both are really good leaders.
I thought it was going to be an iffy case, so I didn’t think I’d hear until next spring, unless my dean, Jack Knott, choose not to take the case forward. Jack is also somebody I trust on these things; he won’t send over a case he doesn’t believe in.
So when Jack called on Wednesday I thought, well, that’s it. Either the Price School is in LA Times with some scandal of some sort, and it involves something I can help with…or he’s decided to tell me that this year the case is a no-go. I figured it was probably the latter as I read the LAT front to back every day, and I hadn’t seen anything.
But–nope. He was calling to say that the central administration sent word along that they, too, had approved the case. Everything is very hush-hush here; we don’t see the letters, we don’t see the departmental votes, we don’t see any committee reports. I didn’t ask any questions because I didn’t want people to feel like they were violating rules.
Thus I didn’t even know it had left the school for approval at the university level. So it was a big surprise and, honestly, a great honor. The other people who hold the rank of full professor here are among the finest scholars in urbanism: Tridib Banerjee, Dowell Myers, Gen Giuliano. Cray that I am among them.
This sort of thing must be fun for Jack, too, and David. David was the program chair and Jack was the dean who hired both Elizabeth Currid-Halkett and me as young assistant professors and then got to see us both promoted to full.
Anyway, my takeaway lesson was: believe your colleagues when they tell you it’s time, and don’t be a giant chicken.
Here is a copy of my Personal Statement to read through to help with yours. I know I sound like Braggy McBraggerson, but these personal statements are the not the time for modesty, false or real. Men don’t usually have that much trouble with these statements. Women often do. Suck it up and brag. If you need me to give you a pep talk to get yourself to brag, I will happily administer one. People may snicker about how much you’ve bragged–though most of us know the game enough to know self-promotion is part of it–but living well, i.e., getting the professional cookies you deserve, is the best revenge.