Interim provost talks about tenure, promotion



Bryan Slinker, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President, discusses WSU's process for tenure and the provost's role in it on Wednesday afternoon at his office at French Administration Building.

JARED BRADLEY, Evergreen reporter

Forty-seven members of WSU faculty have been promoted and granted tenure by the university.

Jessica Willoughby has been promoted to Associate Professor of Strategic Communication. She said that she is happy to have the job security tenure offers.

“It’s a little bit surreal,” she said. “I think it’s really exciting.”

Bryan Slinker, WSU Interim Provost and Executive Vice President, said a tenured position for a professor is usually permanent. 

He said the position can only be taken away in extreme circumstances. This means being appointed to a tenured position is important to new professors. Tenure helps to maintain academic freedom in an institution, and allows professors to hold opposing opinions without risking their careers.

Slinker said new hires start as assistant professors before they are either being granted tenure as an associate professor or becoming an associate professor on the non-tenured job path. After spending a few years as an associate professor, they can become a full-fledged professor, he said. 

At each level of promotion, the process remains mostly the same, Slinker said. The colleagues of tenure promotees are able to comment on whether or not the promotees should be promoted. After the comment period, a vote is held. 

Slinker said WSU has a “super-rank” which is highly selective. WSU holds regent professors in high regard because there are only 30 regent professors at a given time, he said. 

Similar to how associate professors are granted tenure, potential new regents are voted on by current regents, he said. 

Each level of promotion comes with a 10 percent increase in salary. Every position past assistant professor is tenured for those in the tenure track. If a professor who is seeking tenure is not granted tenure, then they can no longer be employed if they are not granted tenure within a year, Slinker said. 

It is extremely rare for tenure to be taken away from a professor. 

“They always involve lawyers,” Slinker said. “It hasn’t come to that at WSU for a long time.”

Final decisions on promotion are ultimately made by the provost, he said. Recommendations are put forth by the deans of each college. Slinker said he was a dean before becoming the interim provost, so he understands both perspectives on the matter. 

Slinker said differences of opinion on the matter of promotion are rare, but they usually get resolved before the provost makes the final call.

A full list of promoted WSU faculty can be found on WSU Insider.