October 29, 2015

Promotion and tenure recognition through a University Library

Posted by Laura Guertin

Each university recognizes the personal and professional attainment of tenure and/or the promotion to the rank of associate/full professor in a variety of ways. At Penn State University, the University Libraries organizes a celebration for faculty across all Penn State campuses with a Promotion and Tenure Recognition event (I’ve heard the University of Illinois has the same program, as well as Florida State University).

I first learned of this unique honor when I was granted tenure and promoted to the rank of associate professor, but the Penn State Libraries has been hosting this annual event since 2003. Faculty can select any book on any topic and provide a written statement (2000 characters or less) that explains their book selection. Each book then includes a customized bookplate to commemorate the achievement. The books are put on display for this university-wide reception, before being sent to the campus library collection where that faculty member is located. Some faculty select books of professional interest, while others choose books that have offered personal inspiration.

The name plate included in my "tenure" book, sitting in the stacks at the Penn State Brandywine Vairo Library

The bookplate included in my “tenure” book, sitting in the stacks at the Penn State Brandywine Vairo Library

Here is the book I selected in 2007, along with the summary I provided that is now archived on the University Library website, along with a notation in the online catalog record when clicking on Detailed Information.

Unbowed, by Wangari Maathai

Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai details the challenges and successes in her life as she fights for political reform, for women, and for the environment. She is one of my personal heroes, as her actions not only improve conditions in her homeland of Kenya but all across the globe. From encouraging people to vote, to planting trees through her Green Belt Movement, Maathai shows us all what can be accomplished with the passion and desire to make a positive change.

This is me, posing with my selection!

Here I am, posing with my book selection!

With my recent promotion to the rank of full professor, I was thrilled to be given another opportunity to select a book for the university collection. Here is the book I selected in 2015, along with the summary I provided that is now archived on the University Library website, along with a notation in the online catalog record when clicking on Detailed Information.

The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, by Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns

The establishment of our national park system has a fascinating history, and the journeys taken by John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt, and others laid the foundation for these public lands we have today. The protection and conservation of the most beautiful natural landscapes across the country has allowed all of us to be inspired and to connect with our inner geologist during our outdoor explorations. I am so thankful for the opportunities I have had to witness the geologic wonders from Acadia and Arches to Glacier and Hawaii Volcanoes, from the Everglades and the Grand Canyon to the Great Sand Dunes and the Great Smoky Mountains… the list goes on and on for where I have been, and what I have yet to see. Visiting national parks keeps me inspired as a geologist, as a citizen, and as an instructor who can share these journeys with her classroom. This book can bring a piece of these public lands to students through stunning images and the cultural history of national parks. I thank Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns for sharing with us not just the present-day inspiration provided by national parks, but the important history of how the park system came to be.

This year’s event took place October 28, showcasing the 75 book selections of recently promoted and/or tenured faculty. Barbara Dewey, Dean of University Libraries and Scholarly Communications, provided some remarks, as well as Penn State President Barron. Here are some photos from the event.

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Thank you, University Libraries, for providing this once-in-a-lifetime recognition! May your program inspire other universities and campuses to do the same.